R. v. Zundel (No. 2), (1992) 140 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeLa Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateAugust 27, 1992
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1992), 140 N.R. 1 (SCC);17 WCB (2d) 106;95 DLR (4th) 202;75 CCC (3d) 449;[1992] 2 SCR 731;140 NR 1;JE 92-1309;1992 CanLII 75 (SCC);10 CRR (2d) 193;56 OAC 161;16 CR (4th) 1;[1992] SCJ No 70 (QL)

R. v. Zundel (1992), 140 N.R. 1 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Ernst Zundel (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent) and The Attorney General of Canada, The Attorney General of Manitoba, The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, The League for Human Rights of B'Nai Brith Canada and The Canadian Jewish Congress (intervenors)

(21811)

Indexed As: R. v. Zundel (No. 2)

Supreme Court of Canada

La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ.

August 27, 1992.

Summary:

The accused was charged with two counts of publishing a knowingly false statement which was likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest contrary to s. 177 (now s. 181) of the Criminal Code. The accused was convicted on count two, respecting a pamphlet denying the existence of the Holo­caust in World War II. The accused was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment plus three years' probation. The accused appealed both conviction and sentence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a judg­ment reported 18 O.A.C. 161, allowed the conviction appeal and ordered a new trial. Following a second trial, the accused was again convicted and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. The accused again appealed his conviction and, alternatively, his sentence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a judg­ment reported 37 O.A.C. 354, dismissed both appeals. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Cory, Iacobucci and Gonthier, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal and substituted an ac­quittal. The court held that s. 171 violated the s. 2(b) Charter right to freedom of ex­pression and was not a reasonable limit prescribed by law under s. 1.

Civil Rights - Topic 1803

Freedom of speech or expression - Scope of - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "the purpose of the guarantee is to permit free expression to the end of pro­moting truth, political or social participa­tion, and self-fulfilment. That purpose extends to the protection of minority beliefs which the majority regard as wrong or false. ... a law which forbids expression of a minority or 'false' view on pain of criminal prosecution and imprisonment, on its face, offends the purpose of the guar­antee of free expression". - The court reaffirmed that "all communications which convey or attempt to convey meaning are protected by s. 2(b), unless the physical form by which communication is made (for example, by a violent act) excludes protection". - See paragraphs 20 to 23.

Civil Rights - Topic 1860

Freedom of speech or expression - Limi­tations on - Publication limitations - Offence of spreading false news - Section 177 of the Criminal Code made it an offence to wilfully publish a statement, tale or news that a person knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mis­chief to the public interest - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 177 violated freedom of expression (Charter, s. 2(b)) and was not a reasonable limit pre­scribed by law under s. 1 - Section 177 was vague and overly broad, with no identified objec­tive of pressing and sub­stantial concern to justify overriding the right to freedom of expression - The court stated that even if s. 177 passed the objec­tives test, it still failed the proportionality test, where its "virtually unlimited reach" did not impair rights as little as possible.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law - [See Civil Rights - Topic 1860 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 822

Nuisances - Spreading false news - Gen­eral - Section 177 of the Criminal Code made it an offence to wilfully publish a statement, tale or news that a person knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to the public interest - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 177 violated freedom of ex­pression (Char­ter, s. 2(b)) and was not a reasonable limit prescribed by law under s. 1, because it failed both the objectives test and the proportionality test.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697; 117 N.R. 1; 114 A.R. 81; 1 C.R.(4th) 129; 77 Alta. L.R.(2d) 193; [1991] 2 W.W.R. 1; 61 C.C.C.(3d) 1; 3 C.R.R.(2d) 193, refd to. [para. 2].

R. v. Carrier (1951), 16 C.R. 18; 104 C.C.C. 75 (Que. K.B.), refd to. [para. 9].

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Québec (Procureur gén­éral), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 167; 24 Q.A.C. 2; 58 D.L.R.(4th) 577; 25 C.P.R.(3d) 417, refd to. [para. 20].

Reference Re Alberta Statutes, [1938] S.C.R. 100, refd to. [para. 21].

Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285, refd to. [para. 21].

Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326; 102 N.R. 321; 103 A.R. 321; [1990] 1 W.W.R. 577; 64 D.L.R.(4th) 577; 71 Alta. L.R.(2d) 273; 45 C.R.R. 1, refd to. [para. 21].

United States v. Schwimmer (1929), 279 U.S. 644, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Butler and McCord, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 452; 134 N.R. 81; 78 Man.R.(2d) 1; 16 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 23].

R. v. Hoaglin (1907), 12 C.C.C. 226 (N.W.T.S.C.), refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Kirby (1970), 1 C.C.C.(2d) 286 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 30].

Chaussure Brown's Inc. et al. v. Québec (Procureur général), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712; 90 N.R. 84; 19 Q.A.C. 69, refd to. [para. 32].

Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General) - see Chaussure Brown's Inc. et al. v. Québec (Procureur général).

Metropolitan Stores MTS Ltd. et al. v. Manitoba Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 832 and Labour Board (Man.), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 110; 73 N.R. 341; 46 Man.R.(2d) 241; 38 D.L.R.(4th) 321; 18 C.P.C.(2d) 273; 25 Admin. L.R. 20, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 26 D.L.R.(4th) 200; 50 C.R.(3d) 1; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 321; 19 C.R.R. 308, refd to. [para. 45].

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; [1985] 3 W.W.R. 481; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161; 18 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 321; 37 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97; 85 C.L.L.C. 14,203; 13 C.R.R. 64, refd to. [para. 45].

R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and Chedore, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 154; 130 N.R. 1; 49 O.A.C. 161; 67 C.C.C.(3d) 193; 8 C.R.(4th) 145, refd to. [para. 52].

Reference Re ss. 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1123; 109 N.R. 81; 68 Man.R.(2d) 1; 56 C.C.C.(3d) 65; 77 C.R.(3d) 1; [1990] 4 W.W.R. 481, refd to. [para. 56].

Hills v. Canada (Attorney General), [1988] 1 S.C.R. 513; 84 N.R. 86; 48 D.L.R.(4th) 193; 88 C.L.L.C. 14,011, refd to. [para. 59].

Davidson v. Slaight Communications Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183; 59 D.L.R.(4th) 416; 26 C.C.E.L. 85; 89 C.L.L.C. 14,031; 40 C.R.R. 100, refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Salituro, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 654; 131 N.R. 161; 50 O.A.C. 125, refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Pappajohn, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 120; 32 N.R. 104; 14 C.R.(3d) 243; [1980] 4 W.W.R. 387; 111 D.L.R.(3d) 1; 52 C.C.C.(2d) 481, refd to. [para. 100].

R. v. Osborne (1732), 2 Swans. 532; 36 E.R. 717; and 2 Barn K.B. 138 and 166; 94 E.R. 406 and 425; W. Kel. 230; 25 E.R. 584, refd to. [para. 117].

Gathercole's Case (1838), 2 Lewin 237; 168 E.R. 1140, refd to. [para. 118].

Scott's Case (1778), 5 New Newgate Cal­endar 284, refd to. [para. 120].

R. v. De Berenger (1814), 3 M. & S. 67; 105 E.R. 536 (K.B.), refd to. [para. 121].

R. v. Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society et al. (No. 2) (1992), 139 N.R. 249 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 138].

R. v. MacLean and MacLean (No. 2) (1982), 1 C.C.C.(3d) 412 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 144].

R. v. Springer (1975), 24 C.C.C.(2d) 56 (Sask. Dist. Ct.), refd to. [para. 144].

R. v. Olan, Hudson and Hartnett, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 1175; 21 N.R. 504, refd to. [para. 145].

Kane v. Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations, [1992] A.W.L.D. No. 302 (Alta. Bd. Inq.), refd to. [para. 156].

Reference Re Compulsory Arbitration, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313; 74 N.R. 99; 78 A.R. 1, refd to. [para. 160].

Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.) - see Reference Re Compulsory Arbitration.

R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713; 71 N.R. 161; 19 O.A.C. 239; 30 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 55 C.R.(3d) 193; 35 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 176].

R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al.

Andrews v. Law Society of British Col­umbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255; [1989] 2 W.W.R. 289; 56 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 34 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273; 36 C.R.R. 193; 25 C.C.E.L. 255, refd to. [para. 177].

R. v. Fringe Products Inc. (1990), 53 C.C.C.(3d) 422 (Dist. Ct.), refd to. [para. 192].

Garrison v. Louisiana (1964), 379 U.S. 64, refd to. [para. 209].

Ollman v. Evans (1984), 750 F.2d 970 (D.C. Cir.), refd to. [para. 220].

Johnson v. R., [1975] 2 S.C.R. 160, refd to. [para. 236].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [para. 42]; sect. 2(b) [paras. 19, 133]; sect. 7 [para. 1]; sect. 15 [para. 168]; sect. 27 [para. 171].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1927, c. 36, sect. 136 [para. 8].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34, sect. 177 [paras. 1, 74].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 181 [paras. 1, 74]; sect. 319 [para. 49].

Criminal Code, S.C. 1892, c. 29, sect. 126 [para. 124].

Criminal Code, S.C. 1953-54, c. 51, sect. 166 [para. 129].

International Covenant on Civil and Politi­cal Rights, 999 U.N.T.S. 172, art. 20(2) [para. 161]; art. 27 [para. 172].

International Convention on the Elimin­ation of All Forms of Racial Discrimina­tion, 660 U.N.T.S. 212, art. 4 [para. 161].

Public Order Act, 1936 (U.K.), 1 Edw. 8 & 1 Geo. 6, c. 6, generally [para. 122].

Statute Law Revision Act, 1887 (U.K.), 50 & 51 Vict., c. 59, generally [para. 7].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Brown, Raymond E., The Law of Defama­tion in Canada (1987), vol. 1, p. 678 [para. 220].

Burbridge, George W., A Digest of the Criminal Law in Canada (1890), gen­erally [paras. 8, 195].

Canada, House of Commons, Special Committee on the Participation of Vis­ible Minorities in Canadian Society, Equality Now! (1984), generally [paras. 49, 156].

Canada, Law Reform Commission, Work­ing Paper No. 50, Hate Propaganda (1986), generally [para. 50].

Canada, Royal Commission Report on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, The Cultural Contribution of the Other Ethnic Groups (1969), Book 4, generally [para. 175].

Canada, Special Committee on Hate Pro­paganda in Canada, Report of (1966), generally [paras. 49, 53, 211].

Canadian Bar Association, Report of the Special Committee on Racial and Relig­ious Hatred (1984), generally [para. 156].

Carr, Edward H., What is History? (1961), generally [para. 12].

Cohen Report - see Canada, Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada, Report of.

Dawidowicz, Lucy S., Lies About the Holocaust (1980), 70:6 Commentary 31, p. 37 [para. 229].

Holdsworth, William, A History of English Law (5th Ed. 1942), vol. 3, p. 409 [para. 7].

Kallen, Evelyn, Multiculturalism, Minor­ities, and Motherhood: A Social Scien­tific Critique of Section 27, in Multiculturalism and the Charter: A Legal Perspective (1987), pp. 125 [para. 181]; 136 [para. 182].

Lasson, Kenneth, Racial Defamation As Free Speech: Abusing the First Amend­ment (1985), 17 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 11, p. 51 [para. 165].

Matsuda, Mari J., Public Response to Racist Speech: Considering the Victim's Story (1989), 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2320, pp. 2338, 2379 [para. 153].

Pace, Alessandro, Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression in Italy (1990), 2 European Review of Public Law 71, p. 84 [para. 163].

Partlett, David, From Red Lion Square to Skokie to the Fatal Shore: Racial De­famation and Freedom of Speech (1989), 22 Vand. J. Transnat'l. L. 431, pp. 459, 468, 469 [para. 204].

Rushdie, Salman, Satanic Verses [para. 28].

Scott, F.R., Publishing False News (1952), 30 Can. Bar Rev. 37, pp. 39 [para. 8]; 40 [paras. 8, 116, 126]; 42 [para. 126].

Seidel, Gill, The Holocaust Denial: Anti­Semitism, Racism and the New Right (1986), p. 105 [para. 228].

Spencer, J.R., Criminal Libel - A Skeleton in the Cupboard, [1977] Crim. L.R. 383, generally [para. 115].

Starkie's Treatise on the Law of Libel and Slander (3rd Ed. 1869), p. 578 [para. 119].

Stein, Eric, History Against Free Speech: The New German Law Against the "Auschwitz" - and other - "Lies" (1986), 85 Mich. L. Rev. 277, generally [para. 166].

Stephen, James F., Digest of the Criminal Law (1878), p. 62 [para. 123].

United Kingdom, Law Commission, Working Paper No. 84, Criminal Libel (1982), pp. 10 [para. 114]; 12, 13 [para. 115].

Veeder, Van Vechten, The History and Theory of the Law of Defamation I (1903), 3 Colum. L. Rev. 546, p. 548 [para. 112].

Veeder, Van Vechten, The History and Theory of the Law of Defamation II (1904), 4 Colum. L. Rev. 33, generally [para. 112].

Counsel:

Douglas H. Christie, for the appellant;

W.J. Blacklock and Jamie C. Klukach, for the respondent;

Graham R. Garton and James Hendry, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Aaron L. Berg, for the intervenor, the Attorney General of Manitoba;

Marc Rosenberg and Shayne Kert, for the intervenor, Canadian Civil Liberties Association;

Mark J. Sandler and Marvin Kurz, for the intervenor, the League for Human Rights of B'Nai Brith Canada;

Neil Finkelstein, for the intervenor, Cana­dian Jewish Congress.

Solicitors of Record:

W.J. Blacklock, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant;

Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, for the re­spondent;

John C. Tait, Q.C., Deputy Attorney Gen­eral of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Attorney General of Manitoba, Department of Justice, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Mani­toba;

Greenspan, Rosenberg & Buhr, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, Canadian Civil Liberties Association;

Cooper, Sandler, West & Skurka, Toronto, Ontario, and Dale, Streiman & Kurz, Brampton, Ontario, for the intervenor, League for Human Rights of B'Nai Brith Canada;

Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, Canadian Jewish Congress.

This appeal was heard on December 10, 1991, before La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin and Iacobucci, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On August 27, 1992, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered and the following opinions were filed:

McLachlin, J. (La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 73;

Cory and Iacobucci, JJ., dissenting (Gonthier, J., concurring) - see para­graphs 74 to 246.

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