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Archive/File: people/c/collins.doug/press/press-council-intervention.971205
Last-Modified: 1997/12/07

Victoria Newsgroup  December 5,1997    FRONT PAGE

Collins' Words Won't Retire as Another Complaint Gathers Steam

Dave Clements
Weekend Edition Staff

   The number of players in the ring for the next round with Doug Collins
remains to be seen, but either way, a match is set.
   As reported in the Weekend Edition two weeks ago, Victoria's Harry Abrams
is proceeding with his complaint against the infamous retired newspaper
columnist Doug Collins and two newspapers who printed his work - The North
Shore News and The Daily Victorian.

   The question now is how many others will pile on.
   Proceeding in the case as an individual. Abrams alleges Collins
contravened the hate speech provisions of B.C.'s 1993 Human Rights Code, in
several of his columns.
   The charges are very similar to those made by the Canadian Jewish
Congress, in a case that wrapped up with a  human rights tribunal decision
Nov 12 to acquit Collins.
   The CJC placed all its eggs in one basket. The Congress took issue with a
March 1994 column entitled "Hollywood Propaganda" in which Collins called
the Holocaust "not only the longest-lasting, but also the most effective
propaganda exercise ever."

   But Abrams believes his case has a better chance of landing a conviction.
   That's because Abrams believes, by presenting a cross-section of Collins'
work, he can more clearly establish a pattern of hate.
   Now the Weekend Edition has learned the B.C. Press Council is considering
intervening in the Abrams case, to challenge the constitutionality of the
Human Rights Code's section 7(1)(b).
   That clause - which the Press Council failed to prove as unconstitutional
in the CJC's case against Collins - prohibits the use of speech that is
"likely to expose a person or a group of persons to hatred or contempt."
   Gerry Porter, the Press Council's executive secretary, says he will meet
today with the incoming chair of the Press Council - former B.C. Conflict of
Interest Commissioner Ted Hughes - to consider whether they should again
intervene. Hughes does not take up his post until Feb. 1.

   "We were not intervening in the CJC case for Doug Collins, we were
intervening for the Charter of Rights," Porter says.
   Abrams, who says he was "thrilled" when he heard of Hughes' selection as
Press Council Chair, says he hopes the Press Council will eventually decide
not to intervene.
   "I hope they decide to use their moral suasion to put a stop to these
proceedings," says Abrams, who has criticized the Press Council for lacking
teeth in controlling the practices of their member newspapers.

   The B.C. Civil Liberties Association - who also intervened in the
CJC/Collins case to challenge the hate law - has not ruled out joining again
but won't rush to do so, says the group's president, Kay Stockholder.
   "We don't have any plans to intervene immediately, but what we will be
looking for is an opportunity to take the constitutionality of that section
of the code beyond the human rights tribunal and to a judicial review,"
Stockholder says.

   Harinder Mahil, the province's deputy human rights commissioner, says if
the Press Council and BCCLA decide to involve themselves, the commission
will also consider intervening to defend the legislation, as it did in the
CJC case.
   Frank Cox, one of the three Victoria men who published the Daily
Victorian from 1993 to 1995, says he hopes both the Press Council and the
BCCLA decide to intervene.
   "When you read the code, you realize the issue is a lot larger than just
me," Cox says.
   According to Cox, on Dec. 15 lawyers involved will meet to discuss the
case and a possible date for a hearing.
   Harry Abrams is currently the B.C. representative of B'nai Brith (Canada).
   However, when he launched his complaint he was not involved with the
organization.

-30-
   



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