VANCOUVER SUN: Wednesday 3 December 1997 FRONT PAGE
Doug Collins to face new tribunal
Tom Barrett Vancouver Sun
Former North Shore News columnist Doug Collins will face another human
rights tribunal, likely in the spring, for his writings about ethnic
Harry Abrams, B.C. representative for B’nai B’rith, claims a series of
columns by Collins in the North Shore News and the now-defunct Daily
Victorian created hatred against a number of minorities.
Last month, a human rights tribunal dismissed a complaint against Collins by
the Canadian Jewish Congress.
But while the CJC complaint was based on a single column — about the
Holocaust movie Schindler’s List — Abrams’ complaint covers a number of
Abrams, who is bringing the complaint as an individual rather than as a
representative of B’nai Brith, said Collins’ columns are likely to cause
hatred against groups including Jews, Sikhs, Iranians, Chinese and Japanese.
He said he hopes the broader scope of the complaint will allow him to
succeed where the CJC failed in making a case that Collins’ work fits the
definition of hatred under B.C. human- rights legislation.
Lawyers for the parties involved will discuss the case in mid-December, when
a date for a hearing is likely to be set.
Abrams’ lawyer, Tom Bulmer, said Tuesday he expects the hearing will take
place in the spring.
Last month, human rights tribunal chair Nitya Iyer found Collins’
Schindler’s List column was anti-Semitic and “likely to make it more
acceptable for others to express hatred or contempt against Jewish people. .
The tone of Collins’ column was “nasty,” “deliberately provocative and
insulting” and “mean-spirited,” she found. But she ruled it was not
sufficiently vitriolic to warrant action under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
Her decision, which upheld the constitutionality of the code while rejecting
the CJC complaint, upset all parties to the matter. Groups including the
B.C. Civil Liberties Association called it a threat to freedom of speech.
Abrams said Tuesday in an interview that he would not have pressed his
complaint if the B.C. Press Council had taken a tougher line against Collins
in the past.
The council, which is the B.C. newspaper industry’s professional ethics
body, did require the North Shore News in 1995 to publish its ruling that
Collins misled readers and misrepresented source material on the number of
Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust.
But the council also ruled it was inappropriate to ask the North Shore News
to publish an apology for an “opinion column the complainant does not like
or approve of.”
Abrams said his complaints “wouldn’t have happened if the press council had
showed some leadership.”
The CJC wanted only two things when it brought its complaint, he said.
“They wanted an apology and they wanted a good-faith undertaking to refrain
from vilification of people because of their ethnicity.”
If the press council had shown a willingness to order such an apology, no
one would need to complain against Collins under the Human Rights Code,
Collins and officials of the North Shore News could not be reached to
Collins, 77, retired from the paper in September.