TORONTO (Sep. 3)
Malcolm Ross of Moncton, New Brunswick, an exemplary teacher with 23 years of experience, was permanently barred from the classroom last week by a provincial human rights panel because of anti-Semitic views he has expounded in books about a so-called Jewish conspiracy to govern the world and destroy Christianity.
Proceedings against the 45-year-old Ross, one of Canada’s most vocal Holocaust-deniers, were initiated in 1988 when David Attis, a father of one of Ross’ students, filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission saying that Ross’ school district condoned his views by employing him.
Yona Attis attended Magnetic Hill Collegiate, where Ross taught.
In response to the complaint, the commission appointed Brian Bruce, a Fredericton, New Brunswick, law professor to investigate the complaint.
Ross’ lawyer, Doug Christie, known for defending Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and accused ex-Nazis who found refuge in Canada, challenged the commission’s jurisdiction to hear the case.
But last year, Canada’s Supreme Court dismissed the legal challenge, and Bruce was allowed to proceed.
Yona Attis and two of her classmates were among those to testify against Ross.
While Ross did not teach his views in the classroom, his ideas were well known through his four books, including “Specter of Hate” and “Web of Deceit.”
Ross is believed to be the first Canadian teacher to lose his job because of views expressed outside the classroom. Former high school teacher Jim Keegstra of Eckville, Alberta, lost his job after expounding anti-Semitic views to his students.
The New Brunswick Teachers Federation came out in support of Ross’ right to freedom of expression.
A ‘POISONED ENVIRONMENT’
But Bruce nevertheless ordered the school board Aug. 29 to immediately suspend Ross without pay for an 18-month “leave of absence” and either find him a non-teaching job or dismiss him.
Bruce issued a gag order forbidding Ross to publicly express his opinions about Jews. Violation of the gag order would result in termination either of Ross’ leave or of his job.
Bruce’s decision was sharply critical of the school board, saying it had allowed a “poisoned environment” to develop which led to discrimination against Jewish students.
Ironically, the ruling could mean a promotion for Ross to an administrative position with higher pay and more prestige, according to school board Chairman Carl Ross, who is no relation.
Previously, the board had refused to fire or suspend Ross but had ordered him to keep his opinions to himself.
Christie, in a telephone conversation from his office in Victoria, British Columbia, called the ruling unfair, saying his client is “being punished for what he believes to be the truth on a religious subject.”
The Canadian Jewish Congress hailed the ruling.
“Teachers must not be perceived by children or parents as racist or hate-filled if they are properly to fulfill their function as a positive influence and role model in the classroom,” said CJC spokesman Joseph Wilder.
B’nai Brith Canada has asked the New Brunswick attorney general to press charges against Ross under Canada’s anti-hate-mongering law. The la’v has been used against other Holocaust deniers, including Keegstra and Ernst Zundel.
In 1978 and 1985, Dr. Julius Israeli, a retired chemistry teacher and Orthodox Jew living in New Brunswick, filed complaints against Ross with the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police, asking that Ross be charged under Section 281.2 of the Criminal Code.
Israeli said the attorney general told him in 1978 that the terms “wilful” and “hatred” in the Criminal Code were too nebulous to allow for a strong enough case.
In 1985, following Keegstra’s convictior under the same statute, police launched a 13-month investigation of Ross. But the New Brunswick attorney general ultimately decided not to prosecute, saying that Ross’ books were not generally available.
Journalists covering the story, however, reported that public libraries were stocked with his books and that they enjoyed healthy circulation.