TORONTO (Apr. 8)
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the need to protect young minds from teachers who purvey anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial overrides any free-speech claim such a teacher might make.
The court’s resounding 9-0 decision, handed down April 3 in Ottawa, upheld a ruling by New Brunswick’s Human Rights Commission removing math and remedial reading teacher Malcolm Ross from a New Brunswick Junior high school classroom.
The judges said it was irrelevant that Ross never espoused his views about an international Jewish conspiracy in the classroom.
Though not officially fired, Ross, 49, is likely to lose his job since his school board will be unable to find an administrative position for him.
In four books with titles like “Spectre of Hate” and “Web of Deceit,” Ross has written that a Jewish conspiracy exists to govern the world and destroy Christianity, and that the Holocaust is a hoax.
But he never mentioned his beliefs to his students.
The issue of what — if anything — to do with him has vexed the province of New Brunswick since 1985, when Julius Israeli, a retired chemistry professor, filed a complaint with the local office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Following a 13-month police investigation, the New Brunswick attorney general decided not to charge Ross with promoting hatred of an identifiable group, an offense under Canada’s criminal code, saying it would be very difficult to secure a conviction.
In 1988, David Attis — whose daughter, Yona, occasionally attended special events at the school where Ross taught — complained to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission that the local school board was condoning Ross’ views by employing him.
Attis, an officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, claimed the anti-Jewish taunts his daughter suffered at the hands of her classmates stemmed from the presence of Ross.
The commission appointed Brian Bruce, a New Brunswick law professor, to investigate the complaint.
At the same time, CJC sought and was granted standing at the commission’s tribunal to represent Canada’s 365,000-strong Jewish community.
Ross’ lawyer, Doug Christie, had long specialized in defending alleged Nazi war criminals and Holocaust deniers.
Among those to testify against Ross at the tribunal were Yona Attis and two classmates.
The New Brunswick Teachers Federation came out in support of Ross’ right to freedom of expression.
Bruce ordered the school board to immediately suspend Ross without pay for an 18-month “leave of absence” and to find him a non-teaching job. He also put a gag order on Ross, forbidding him from publicly expressing his opinions about Jews.
His decision was sharply critical of the school board, saying it had allowed a “poisoned environment” to develop that led to discrimination against Jewish students.