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Canadian Court Voids Conviction of Holocaust Revisionist Teacher

March 20, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Opinion is divided in Jewish and legal circles over a new trial for Jim Keegstra, the former mayor and high school teacher in Eckville, Alberta, who was fined $50,000 for preaching hatred of Jews.

Last week, Keegstra’s 1985 conviction was overturned on a technicality for the second time by the Alberta Court of Appeal in Calgary, and Justices Roger Kerans and Howard Irving ruled that “a new trial must be ordered.”

“At this point, we are encouraging the Crown to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court,” said Drew Stoffenberg, director of the Calgary chapter of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Alberta Legislator Sheldon Chumir believes, however, that “if we are faced with going to another trial, my feeling is that we should leave the matter sit. It would be counterproductive.

“Why give him (Keegstra) the publicity? Why create a martyr?” Chumir asked.

Keegstra, who taught high school in rural Eckville for 12 years and was also mayor there, was charged under Canada’s anti-hate laws with preaching to his classes that the Holocaust is a lie and that Jews are the root of all evil.

He was convicted in 1985 by the Court of Queen’s Bench in Red Deer, Alberta, of wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group.

But the conviction was overturned on appeal in 1988 on grounds that the anti-hate statutes were unconstitutional.

The case remained in limbo until three months ago, when Canada’s Supreme Court decided 4-3 that the law was in fact constitutional. The high court referred Keegstra’s other motions of appeal back to the Alberta court.


The Alberta court ruled March 13 that Keegstra should have been allowed to challenge the impartiality of the jurors in his 1985 trial and, having not been, “the conviction must be quashed and a new trial ordered.”

“We thought this whole thing was behind us,” commented Stoffenberg of the CJC.

He stressed, however, that in overturning the conviction, the Alberta court was “only speaking about the technicalities and legal procedures. The substantive part of the trial, his preaching hate, was ruled constitutional.”

Keegstra was originally charged on the complaints of parents in Eckville, a hamlet of about 900 where no Jews lived. Keegstra was dismissed from his teaching job at the end of 1982.

But in 1983, the Eckville City Council voted not to ask for his resignation as mayor, although there were requests for that from the Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Legion. He lost a subsequent bid for re-election.

Keegstra still lives in Eckville, where he now works as an automobile mechanic.

According to a British Columbia Television telephone interview, Keegstra still holds to his Jewish conspiracy theory.

But in Chumir’s opinion, he is “totally discredited, so going for a new trial will look like Jews are after a pound of flesh.”

Chumir said he was much more concerned with the violence-prone Skinheads and Aryan Nation groups.

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