Defence labels trial a ‘Roman Circus’
Red Deer- The defence lawyer in the trial of Jim Keegstra has confirmed he
authored a letter that says “we are watching the equivalent of a Roman
Doug Christie told reporters Wednesday extracts of a letter he sent to
private individuals in Canada was contained in a fundraising circular
directed at members of the Moslem community.
“This is a letter of mine, but it was not sent to the public. It was sent
to individuals… it was private whenever I sent it,” Christie said when
shown a typed version of the circular.
“I have no control over what somebody does with a letter any more than you
have control over what somebody does with a newspaper,” he said.
A copy of the circular addressed to Brothers and Sisters of Islam was
obtained from the Canadian Jewish Congress in Toronto.
The address included in the circular is a house in northwest Red Deer, the
same place Christie, Keegstra and some supporters have been staying during
It was on the front steps of that house that Christie spoke to reporters
His reference to the Roman Circus pertained to the “the prosecution calling
students to inform on their teachers… nothing says anything about a
court,” Christie said.
“I think the prosecution of people for their opinions is disgraceful,” he
Christie made reference to the freedom of speech issue in his letter,
saying that the Keegstra trial involves “not one issue but several
inter-woven into a matrix of the most important values of our society.”
“A man is on trial in Canada for what he thought and spoke of over a period
of four years; few will dare say anything about it. Every day a
representative of the Canadian Jewish Congress sits in court and walks in
and out of the prosecutor’s office at the breaks, as well as advises the
media, showing us who is the real power in the land. We are watching the
equivalent of a Roman Circus…” the letter said in part.
Christie said he has nothing to do with the “Jim Keegstra Foundation Funds”
identified in the circular.
Source: Times Colonist (Victoria) March 2 1985
Lawyer Pays price for style
(the second part of a longer article about Doug Christie)
Many of Christie’s cases are of the unrewarding, legal-aid type, and later
this year is to conduct the defence of Albertan James Keegstra on hate
charges. The case, certain to garner more headlines across Canada, will be
argued by Christie virtually for free.
The issues that arouse his passion revolve around Big Brother. Forced
federalism, the metric system and the demise of the Union Jack led him to
found the separatist Western Canada Concept party.
Money doesn’t mean much to him, Christie recently said as he leaned on the
sauerkraut-and-sausage-laden dining room of Zundel’s fortified Toronto
His Victoria office is not exactly orthodox: he operates from an
odd-looking parking attendants shack in the middle of the lot across from
Victoria’s courthouse. A car ran into it once, said Lissom
Christie, a devout Roman Catholic, is most comfortable chopping wood, with
his goats and ducks sidling around him on his 12 hectare piece of land
north of Victoria.
During the trial, Christie lived in Zundel’s home, which also served as
barracks for about 20 witnesses and supporters. At night, the whole bunch
would sometimes get around the piano and sing.
Christie says he admires the courage of people such as Zundel and Keegstra.
“With all the pressures toward conformity in our society, why do we need
another form of it? This is destructive to free ideas,” he said.
The Zundel case also had an unexpected result. The more he learned about
the revisionist view of the Holocaust, “the more sense it made. I can say
I’ve come to have some grave doubts about the exterminationist side.”
Defending Zundel has cost him a couple of valued friendships and brought
worry to his parents in Alberta. “My father always taught me to be true to
myself,” the lawyer said thoughtfully. “It’s when people’s ideas are not
popular that the real test comes. I don’t like to upset them, but you have
to do what you have to do.”
Zundel said Christie doesn’t admit how rotten he feels about being shunned.
“I will forever admire that man,” said Zundel. “I consider him a great
Within a day or two in his first Toronto trial, Christie had also staked
out a claim as one of the most irreverent, combative lawyers practicing in
His daily run-ins with Locke during the Zundel trial made him an instant
courthouse legend and left observers flinching. Locke was particularly
incensed by Christie’s sarcastic backtalk, his petulance and his habit of
referring to his client as we.
“That is not theatrics,” Lisson said. “That is Doug Christie… There are
occasions when he pushes a point so far he loses the point.”
Said But not yet” [sic]
Times-Colonist (Victoria, BC) Wednesday February 24, 1993
Law body won’t punish Christie but flays ties to ‘lunatic fringe’
The Canadian Press
Toronto- The Law Society of Upper Canada says it won’t discipline Doug
Christie, a Victoria lawyer known for defending accused racists, neo-Nazis
But the law society leveled stinging criticism of Christie’s conduct during
the trial of accused war criminal Imre Finta and pro-Nazi publisher Ernst
The 37 page decision released Tuesday didn’t appear to satisfy anyone
connected with the complaints, including Christie.
“In all circumstances, I have concluded that Mr. Christie exercised
exceedingly poor judgment, engaged in bad advocacy and was plainly wrong to
assert actual bias,” Harvey Strosberg, the chairman of discipline, wrote of
Christie’s conduct during the Zundel case.
The 46 year old lawyer “has made common cause with a small, lunatic
anti-Semitic fringe element of our society,” Strosberg wrote.
The law society began investigating Christie in 1990 after receiving
several complaints from people alleging his conduct was unbecoming for a
lawyer and that he badgered witnesses at Finite’s trial.
Christie, who is based in Victoria but permitted to practice in other
provinces, represented both Zundel and Finta during lengthy trials in
He is also known across Canada for defending others accused of promoting
hatred toward Jews, including former Alberta teacher Jim Keegstra and New
Brunswick author Malcolm Ross.
Last fall he defended Ku Klux Klansmen in Winnipeg and represented David
Irving, a British author who says reports about the Holocaust have been
greatly exaggerated, at immigration proceedings that saw him ordered to
The law society focused on three incidents: Christie’s allegations that the
trial judge in the Zundel trial was biased against his client; his jury
address at the Finta trial and a 1990 speech he made in support of Finta.
Finta, a Toronto restaurateur, was acquitted in May 1990 on charges that he
committed crimes against Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Second
World War. The case is under appeal.
Zundel was convicted of spreading false news about the Holocaust, though
the Supreme Court of Canada quashed the decision, saying the law he was
charged under was unconstitutional.
Strosberg agreed Christie was wrong to suggest the trial judge was biased,
but said “there is minimal evidence to support a conclusion that he
honestly but mistakenly believed the trial judge was biased.”
He also agreed Christie “broke the rules” during his jury address at the
Finta trial when he expressed a personal opinion and “invited” the jury to
disregard the law. However, Strosberg said it “was not so excessive as to
warrant the initiation of the discipline process.”
Strosberg saved his harshest criticism for Christie’s 1990 speech.
“We know who Mr. Christie is. In the depths of his imagery he has not
lied. Suffering Mr. Christie’s words and opinions is part of the price one
pays for upholding and cherishing freedom of speech in a free and
In Victoria, Christie said the law society’s decision exonerates him but
calledthe written decision a “smear” job. He said the law society wrongly
attributed words to him, and “then condemned me for saying them.”
“They make a decision that they’re to going to charge me but they say some
awful things about me that are incorrect.”
Source: July 21, 1985. Calgary Herald