Menu JTA Search

Holocaust denial case tests Canadian province’s hate law

TORONTO, May 14 (JTA) — A veteran British Columbia journalist is facing charges of publishing statements that are “likely to expose a group or class of persons to hatred or contempt.” The case comes three years after Doug Collins wrote a newspaper column accusing Jews of distorting and propagandizing the Holocaust to make money. Collins is the first person accused by the British Columbia Human Rights Council of contravening the province’s 1993 Human Rights Act. If convicted by the panel of three judges in Vancouver, Collins could be fined. The case revolves around a column, “Hollywood Propaganda,” that Collins wrote in 1994 for the Vancouver newspaper North Shore News, which has a circulation of about 60,000. In his column, Collins dismissed the accepted figure of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust as “nonsense,” and suggested the total was more like “hundreds of thousands.” He described Holocaust films such as “Schindler’s List” as “hate literature in the form of films” and asserted that Jews control Hollywood and are making up lies to extort billions of dollars in reparations from Germany. The Canadian Jewish Congress, the British Columbia Human Rights Coalition and the Chinese Benevolent Association have all filed briefs in favor of conviction. “The rights of free speech are limited by the rights of victims of hate speech,” said Michael Elterman, chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress’s Pacific Region. “The article holds the Jewish community up to hatred and contempt,” Elterman said. “It says that the Jews are out to dupe the non-Jewish world for as much money as possible, which touches on a number of historic anti-Semitic themes and stereotypes.” Favoring acquittal, the B.C. Civil Liberties Union and the B.C. Press Council argue that the 1993 law is unconstitutional since, they say, it exerts limits on the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press.” A legal defense campaign has reportedly raised more than $65,000 in recent weeks for Collins. Some 50 people attended a rally for his defense Sunday at a public library in West Vancouver.

NEXT STORY