TORONTO (Aug. 19)
James Keegstra, a former high school teacher in rural Alberta, must stand trial again for inciting hatred of Jews, the Canadian Supreme Court decided last Friday.
It dismissed without comment his appeal against the Alberta Appellate Court’s decision to retry him.
Keegstra, who taught in Eckville, a village of 900, and was its mayor, preached to his 12th grade social studies classes that the Holocaust was a hoax and Jews are behind all evil.
Brought to trial at the complaints of parents, none of them Jewish, he was convicted in 1985 of wilfully promoting hatred of an identifiable group, in violation of Canada’s anti-hate statute, and was fined $5,000.
The conviction was overturned on a technicality by the Alberta Appeals Court in June 1988. But the same court refused to dismiss the charges.
In March, it ordered a new trial for the 56-year-old Keegstra.
While the decision was generally welcomed by Canadian Jews, there is strong concern in Jewish and other circles that the new trial will serve no purpose but to provide Keegstra with a platform and an aura of martyrdom.