TORONTO (Jun. 18)
James Keegstra, a dismissed high school teacher from Eckville, Alberta, has been remanded for trial on charges of violating Canada’s anti-hate laws.
Judge Douglas Crowe ruled after a nine day preliminary hearing in Red Deer, Alberta, that he had heard sufficient evidence to warrant trial. He was referring to testimony by former pupils that Keegstra used his classroom to preach virulent anti-Semitism and incite hatred of Jews.
No date was set for the trial which is not expected to begin until the fall session of the courts. The antihate provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code were enacted 14 years ago, in July, 1970. So far there have been no convictions under the statute.
Sherron Wolny, now 19, an honors graduate and class valedictorian of the Eckville high school, testified that keegstra referred to Jews as “thugs” and “money thugs. ” “You got a better mark if you wrote what Mr. Keegstra said” on examinations, she told the court.
Blair Andrew, 17, who appeared as a defense witness at the hearing, said he believed Keegstra and to this day lives in fear of Jews, though he also feels ashamed. He said he was taught in Keegstra’s class, when he was 13, that there was “a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world” and that “your average Jew was a criminal gutter rat and cut throat.”
Another former student, Trudi Roth, said Keegstra taught that President Roosevelt was a “dupe of Zionism” and committed suicide when Stalin refused to “make him President of the world. ” She said that when she wrote an essay on Zionism based on an encyclopedia article, Keegstra gave her a failing mark and warned her to base her essays on his notes, not other sources.
Dana Kreil, 19, also a defense witness, said Keegstra referred to an “elite group” of about 7-8 percent of all Jews as being responsible for plots and atrocities. These “elite” were described by Keegstra as “Bolshevik Jews,” “Zionist Jews” and “Khazar Jews. ” The Khazars were a Central Asian people whose rulers converted to Judaism in the eighth century.
Twice during the hearing defense counsel Douglas Christie read long passages from the Talmud. Danny Desrosiers, 19, said Keegstra contended that the Talmud gave Jews the right to kill or steal from gentiles.
Crown Prosecutors Bruce Fraser and Larry Philippe introduced essays written by three students which praised Hitler and said Judaism was the enemy of Christainity. Ms. Wolny testified that she was taught in Keegstra’s calss that Jews paid for Lincoln’s assassination, provoked World Wars I and II and the Russian revolution and plan to control the world by the year 2000.
Keegstra was fired from the Alberta school system on the complaint of parents that he was indoctrinating their children with anti-Semitism. Several of the parents testified at the hearing. None are Jewish and no Jews live in Eckville. Keegstra, who served as Mayor of Eckville, was defeated in a re-election bid last year. While his teaching was not a campaign issue, the voters were reported repelled by his views and angered by the disrepute he brought on their town, a farm community of about 900.