URGENT COURT UPDATE: Will it still be legal to call someone "anti-Semitic" in Canada?

In November of 2014 I lost a defamation lawsuit brought by Khurrum Awan, the former youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

One of the reasons I lost was that the judge ruled that calling Awan an anti-Semite was defamatory.

But Awan used to be the youth president of an anti-Semitic group — the Canadian Islamic Congress. Back then the CIC was led by a notorious anti-Semite, Mohamed Elmasry. Elmasry went on national TV to declare that any adult in Israel is a legitimate target for terrorism. The CIC even called for the legalization of anti-Semitic terrorist groups.

And yet the judge ruled that it was defamatory for me to call their former youth president anti-Semitic. Because Awan denied it in court, and said he never knew about his organization's infamous misconduct. The judge ruled I did not prove it was factually true.

What’s so incredible is that Awan himself testified at trial that he agreed it's reasonable for people to call certain statements by the Canadian Islamic Congress anti-Semitic.

I simply had to appeal this ruling. And yesterday — finally — I had my day at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

You can read my lawyer’s legal brief by clicking here.

My lawyer made many points, but a key one was this: if the trial judge’s ruling is not overturned, there will be a great chill over free speech in Canada.

My lawyer gave the court a hypothetical example of a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Would it really be defamatory to call a member of the KKK racist, if he denied he was racist? Even though he admitted it’s fair to call the KKK itself racist?

There aren’t a lot of KKK activists on university campuses these days. But there are a lot of pro-Hamas activists on campus, demonizing Israel and Jews, denying the last Holocaust even while calling for the next one.

If the precedent against me stands, any Jewish student or any righteous Gentile who dares to call out anti-Semites could be hauled before a court, and put through eight years of lawfare.

That’s how long it’s been for me — I first wrote those comments about Awan and the Canadian Islamic Congress back in 2008. And we’re still in court.

I have already received one legal bill from my lawyer, for his preparations for the appeal. And he hasn’t sent me the bill for our court appearance yet. I expect the total cost will be over $30,000. And if we lose, I’ll need to apply to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This trial judgment doesn’t just affect my rights. It’s a setback for freedom for everyone — especially for activists trying to fight back against anti-Semitism. Imagine not being able to use that word to describe activists with anti-Semitic groups.

If you share my belief that we cannot let this ruling stand, please help me cover the costs of this appeal by clicking here to contribute.

Yours gratefully,

Ezra Levant

P.S. If you prefer to send a cheque, please make it payable to “Chitiz Pathak LLP in Trust” and write “Ezra Levant defence fund” in the memo line. Please mail it to:

Chitiz Pathak LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
320 Bay St., Suite 1600
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 4A6

Thank you.


Why did I resign as a lawyer?

I resigned as a member of the Law Society of Alberta yesterday. I actually had to apply for permission to quit.

Now, that’s not really news — I haven’t worked at a law firm in 13 years. I’m a journalist and activist. But for some reason, there were more than 100 news stories about my resignation. 

I’ll tell you the reason: because it was a matter of freedom of speech.

You see, even though I was a non-practicing lawyer, I was still governed by the Law Society’s code of professional conduct. That’s supposed to discipline lawyers who do things like steal money from their clients — serious, professional malpractice. But there’s also a catch-all provision to discipline lawyers who engage in “unbecoming” conduct.

Well, over the last eight years, left-wing political extremists have abused that provision to file 26 nuisance complaints against me, claiming my journalism and political activism was “unbecoming”. 

Here’s a video I made about complaints number 25 and 26:


I had been a lawyer for almost sixteen years. So why did all these nuisance complaints start eight years ago? Because that’s when I launched my campaign against Canada’s corrupt human rights commissions, and their censorship powers.

Not a single one of these complaints against me was ever upheld. I resigned with a perfect record. But each time I’d beat one complaint, leftist activists would simply file a new one. Because it cost them nothing — and it cost me thousands of dollars to fight each complaint.

The process itself became the punishment. So I applied to get out. But not before I gave the Law Society a piece of my mind.

Here’s the statement that I read out at the Law Society’s headquarters:

Statement by Ezra Levant to the Law Society of Alberta

March 2, 2016

I’ve been a member of the Law Society of Alberta for sixteen years but I only worked for a law firm for just over one year: after I briefly ran for Parliament in Calgary Southwest in 2002, until I started the Western Standard news magazine in 2003. Those two things – politics and journalism – are what I do. I don’t practice law.

I’m glad I went to law school and I use my legal training almost every day, but I use it to do politics or journalism, not as a lawyer. I haven’t had a client in years.

While I was at the firm, I received no complaints about my professional work. After I stopped practicing law, I kept renewing my Law Society membership and paying my dues, out of habit and sentimentality. Trouble is, by remaining a member of the Law Society, even as a non-practicing lawyer, I gave my political opponents free shots at me through the profession’s complaints procedure.

Starting in 2008, weeks after I launched my political and journalistic campaign to reform Canada’s human rights commissions, I became the target of a series of nuisance complaints to the Law Society. None of the complaints had anything to do with my work as a lawyer – I wasn’t working as a lawyer then. None of the complaints were filed by clients – I didn’t have any clients then. And almost all of the complaints were made by people with no connection to Alberta.

They were filed by political activists who had found a free way to take a run at me because of my politics and journalism. I don’t believe that’s what the Law Societies are about, or what the Code of Professional Conduct is about. But those nuisance complaints were jammed into the catch-all heading of “conduct unbecoming” a lawyer.

I acknowledge that there are some things that could amount to conduct unbecoming for a lawyer, even a non-practicing lawyer. Being convicted of a crime might be one example. But having strong opinions shouldn’t be. Nor should expressing them. Which is good, considering how many opinionated politicians are non-practicing members of the Law Society. Like Premiers Alison Redford, Jim Prentice and Rachel Notley.

It’s been eight years since the first nuisance complaint was filed against me. And as of today, fully 26 complaints have been filed against me, all by political activists. They prefer a Law Society complaint to a letter to the editor, because Law Society complaints compel me to hire a lawyer to defend myself, and to go through a meticulous process, consuming my time and money. And they prefer a Law Society complaint to a civil lawsuit against me, because when their complaints are eventually thrown out, as the 24 resolved complaints have been, they aren’t on the hook for my legal costs. The Law Society of Alberta has become a magnet for every nuisance litigant, crank and shakedown artist in the country. One Ontario left-wing activist – probably living not too far from where I live in Toronto – actually published an online template for how to file complaints against me here in Alberta. Just like me, the Law Society is forced to deal with these tactics.

Every complaint against me has been dismissed so far. But the trouble is, by the time each complaint had been dismissed, another one had been filed. So there has been no free moment to resign from the Law Society in eight years, and I wasn’t going to resign in the face of a complaint. That’s my one complaint: the Law Society has been fair in their dealings with me, and they’ve obviously supported my freedom of speech every single time. But they’ve been slow about it, usually taking more than a year to throw out political complaints.

To my surprise, after eight years of dismissing nuisance complaints without even a hearing, a panel of Benchers recently decided to refer the last two complaints against me to a prosecutor. I really couldn’t believe it – at first I thought it was a typo. The complaints, as you can see, center around a newspaper column in which I called the Alberta human rights commission “crazy”. In a newspaper’s editorial section. We were going to have a full hearing about that.

The Alberta human rights commission is crazy. I know, because I lived through one of their crazier prosecutions – a 900-day blasphemy case against me for the grave sin of publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in a news magazine. But there is no such thing as the counterfeit human right not to be offended. That’s a crazy idea.

I should mention that Syed Soharwardy, one of the imams who filed that human rights commission complaint against me, also filed a Law Society complaint against me too. Both were dismissed.

I believe these last Law Society complaints are a violation of my Charter rights of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. I am confident that they would be dismissed, either by a Law Society panel or a court of appeal. The law in this area is well developed.

It was strange to me that after eight years of standing up for my freedom of speech, a panel of Benchers wanted a hearing. I’ve skimmed through the other disciplinary hearings at the Law Society – lawyers stealing money from client trust funds; lawyers making legal settlements without their client’s permission; lawyers too drunk to do their jobs. Real cases of professional conduct issues. And in the middle of that, a hearing because I called the human rights commission crazy.

Well, look. I’d love to have that hearing, and win, and set a strong precedent for freedom of speech – not just for myself, but so that in the future, no lawyer, either on the right or the left, has to go through the expensive hassle of a multi-year investigation of their political opinions.

I just stared down Premier Notley, whose office directed the sheriff to kick my reporters out of the Legislature. The Premier has backed down. This was an important freedom of speech issue, that we fought on behalf of TheRebel.media, but also for the benefit of all journalists. Yet I have no doubt that a Law Society complaint against me is coming, alleging that my comments during this latest fight with the Premier weren’t lawyerly. This merry go round is not going to stop.

To be frank, the cost and inconvenience aside  – I was looking forward to a freedom of speech fight with the Law Society. But a few weeks ago the Law Society raised the idea of resolution without the necessity of a hearing. I was pretty suspicious – what was the catch? Would I be asked to say that the Alberta human rights commission is a great bunch of guys, totally not crazy, really really sane? Or maybe that I shouldn’t have written my newspaper column about it? But that’s not the proposal. It appears all counsel want resolution without a contested hearing which, on their advice, I am prepared to accept.

I haven’t lived in Alberta for years, and I haven’t been at a law firm in over a decade. I actually submitted an application to resign from the Law Society years ago – but on the condition that there are no complaints outstanding against me. So, I’ve been waiting.

I’m a 16-year member of the Law Society without a single disciplinary action on my record. I’d prefer to remain an inactive lawyer, but I accept, that in this situation, it makes little sense for me to remain a member of the Law Society, knowing that the political harassment will continue.

I’ll miss the collegiality of being a lawyer – a little bit. But I won’t miss the nuisance complaints. And I promise I’ll keep fighting for freedom of speech every day in my real job as a journalist and political activist.

I think I know what the Law Society staff wants to do after eight years of nuisance complaints. They want to stop being forced to read my newspaper columns and watch my videos as part of their job. But you’re the deciders here. Let me know what you think is in the interests of the profession, the province, and the Constitution.

What do you think? Should I have stayed and fought — and wasted thousands more dollars and hundreds more hours?

Or should I have pulled the plug — so I can spend time on the projects I choose, not those chosen by my political enemies?

In the end, the Law Society granted me my resignation, with a perfect disciplinary record. They know the complaints were bogus.

Finally, the bleeding from the legal bills is over — at least in this forum. But unfortunately, I’ve still got plenty of nuisance suits being filed against me in other courts, by many of the same activists. In fact, my next court date is coming up in May. 

I hate these vexatious suits against me. But I know one thing: people never shoot at a dead duck. The fact that 26 nuisance complaints were filed against me is a grim compliment. These leftists know I’m making a difference, or they wouldn’t be trying so hard to bankrupt me.

Ezra Levant

P.S. Believe it or not, I had to hire lawyers to apply for me to resign from the Law Society. They prepared for weeks, and in the end it was a three-hour hearing. I know, it’s crazy. If you are in a position to help me cover those legal costs, I’d be very grateful. Please click here, if you can. 

P.P.S. It’s a small consolation, but here is confirmation from the Law Society that I leave the profession with a perfect ethical record — despite 26 attempts by left-wing activists to smear me.


Should I be prosecuted for calling human rights commissions “crazy”?

Today was the day I was scheduled to be prosecuted for one charge of being “publicly discourteous or disrespectful to a Commissioner or Tribunal Chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission” and two charges that my “public comments regarding the Alberta Human Rights Commission were inappropriate and unbecoming and that such conduct is deserving of sanction.”

Because two years ago I wrote a newspaper editorial calling Alberta’s human rights commission “crazy”.

Here’s a video I made about this prosecution last year:

This time, the prosecution was going to be at the hands of the Law Society, as if writing a political editorial is some sort of professional misconduct on my part (I’m a non-practicing lawyer).

Well, after the Law Society prosecutor looked things over, he called my lawyers and said he didn’t want to go through with it. I don’t blame him. There have been 24 previous nuisance complaints filed against me with the Law Society, all filed by my political opponents. And every one of them has been thrown out. Why waste his time prosecuting these ones?

So we’re still meeting at the Law Society today. But it’s to ask the Law Society to ignore these latest nuisance complaints against me. I haven’t worked at a law firm in 13 years and I don't live in Alberta; I had applied to resign as a lawyer years ago — I just refused to do so until all the nuisance complaints were gone, so I wasn’t leaving under a cloud.

Will the Law Society listen to their own prosecutor, ignore these two latest nuisance complaints, and let me get back to being a journalist? Or will they insist on having a hearing about my newspaper editorial two years ago?

We’re about to find out!

Below is the statement that I read out at the hearing moments ago. Let me know what you think.

This whole exercise is designed by my political opponents to waste my time and money — as they’ve done 24 times before. If you feel moved to help chip in to my legal defence fund, I’d be grateful, you can do so by clicking here — thanks.

Here’s my statement today:

I’ve been a member of the Law Society of Alberta for sixteen years but I only worked for a law firm for just over one year: after I briefly ran for Parliament in Calgary Southwest in 2002, until I started the Western Standard news magazine in 2003. Those two things – politics and journalism – are what I do. I don’t practice law.

I’m glad I went to law school and I use my legal training almost every day, but I use it to do politics or journalism, not as a lawyer. I haven’t had a client in years.

While I was at the firm, I received no complaints about my professional work. After I stopped practicing law, I kept renewing my Law Society membership and paying my dues, out of habit and sentimentality. Trouble is, by remaining a member of the Law Society, even as a non-practicing lawyer, I gave my political opponents free shots at me through the profession’s complaints procedure.

Starting in 2008, weeks after I launched my political and journalistic campaign to reform Canada’s human rights commissions, I became the target of a series of nuisance complaints to the Law Society. None of the complaints had anything to do with my work as a lawyer – I wasn’t working as a lawyer then. None of the complaints were filed by clients – I didn’t have any clients then. And almost all of the complaints were made by people with no connection to Alberta.

They were filed by political activists who had found a free way to take a run at me because of my politics and journalism. I don’t believe that’s what the Law Societies are about, or what the Code of Professional Conduct is about. But those nuisance complaints were jammed into the catch-all heading of “conduct unbecoming” a lawyer.

I acknowledge that there are some things that could amount to conduct unbecoming for a lawyer, even a non-practicing lawyer. Being convicted of a crime might be one example. But having strong opinions shouldn’t be. Nor should expressing them. Which is good, considering how many opinionated politicians are non-practicing members of the Law Society. Like Premiers Alison Redford, Jim Prentice and Rachel Notley.

It’s been eight years since the first nuisance complaint was filed against me. And as of today, fully 26 complaints have been filed against me, all by political activists. They prefer a Law Society complaint to a letter to the editor, because Law Society complaints compel me to hire a lawyer to defend myself, and to go through a meticulous process, consuming my time and money. And they prefer a Law Society complaint to a civil lawsuit against me, because when their complaints are eventually thrown out, as the 24 resolved complaints have been, they aren’t on the hook for my legal costs. The Law Society of Alberta has become a magnet for every nuisance litigant, crank and shakedown artist in the country. One Ontario left-wing activist – probably living not too far from where I live in Toronto – actually published an online template for how to file complaints against me here in Alberta. Just like me, the Law Society is forced to deal with these tactics.

Every complaint against me has been dismissed so far. But the trouble is, by the time each complaint had been dismissed, another one had been filed. So there has been no free moment to resign from the Law Society in eight years, and I wasn’t going to resign in the face of a complaint. That’s my one complaint: the Law Society has been fair in their dealings with me, and they’ve obviously supported my freedom of speech every single time. But they’ve been slow about it, usually taking more than a year to throw out political complaints.

To my surprise, after eight years of dismissing nuisance complaints without even a hearing, a panel of Benchers recently decided to refer the last two complaints against me to a prosecutor. I really couldn’t believe it – at first I thought it was a typo. The complaints, as you can see, center around a newspaper column in which I called the Alberta human rights commission “crazy”. In a newspaper’s editorial section. We were going to have a full hearing about that.

The Alberta human rights commission is crazy. I know, because I lived through one of their crazier prosecutions – a 900-day blasphemy case against me for the grave sin of publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in a news magazine. But there is no such thing as the counterfeit human right not to be offended. That’s a crazy idea.

I should mention that Syed Soharwardy, one of the imams who filed that human rights commission complaint against me, also filed a Law Society complaint against me too. Both were dismissed.

I believe these last Law Society complaints are a violation of my Charter rights of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. I am confident that they would be dismissed, either by a Law Society panel or a court of appeal. The law in this area is well developed.

It was strange to me that after eight years of standing up for my freedom of speech, a panel of Benchers wanted a hearing. I’ve skimmed through the other disciplinary hearings at the Law Society – lawyers stealing money from client trust funds; lawyers making legal settlements without their client’s permission; lawyers too drunk to do their jobs. Real cases of professional conduct issues. And in the middle of that, a hearing because I called the human rights commission crazy.

Well, look. I’d love to have that hearing, and win, and set a strong precedent for freedom of speech – not just for myself, but so that in the future, no lawyer, either on the right or the left, has to go through the expensive hassle of a multi-year investigation of their political opinions.

I just stared down Premier Notley, whose office directed the sheriff to kick my reporters out of the Legislature. The Premier has backed down. This was an important freedom of speech issue, that we fought on behalf of TheRebel.media, but also for the benefit of all journalists. Yet I have no doubt that a Law Society complaint against me is coming, alleging that my comments during this latest fight with the Premier weren’t lawyerly. This merry go round is not going to stop.

To be frank, the cost and inconvenience aside – I was looking forward to a freedom of speech fight with the Law Society. But a few weeks ago the Law Society raised the idea of resolution without the necessity of a hearing. I was pretty suspicious – what was the catch? Would I be asked to say that the Alberta human rights commission is a great bunch of guys, totally not crazy, really really sane? Or maybe that I shouldn’t have written my newspaper column about it? But that’s not the proposal. It appears all counsel want resolution without a contested hearing which, on their advice, I am prepared to accept.

I haven’t lived in Alberta for years, and I haven’t been at a law firm in over a decade. I actually submitted an application to resign from the Law Society years ago – but on the condition that there are no complaints outstanding against me. So, I’ve been waiting.

I’m a 16-year member of the Law Society without a single disciplinary action on my record. I’d prefer to remain an inactive lawyer, but I accept, that in this situation, it makes little sense for me to remain a member of the Law Society, knowing that the political harassment will continue.

I’ll miss the collegiality of being a lawyer – a little bit. But I won’t miss the nuisance complaints. And I promise I’ll keep fighting for freedom of speech every day in my real job as a journalist and political activist.

I think I know what the Law Society staff wants to do after eight years of nuisance complaints. They want to stop being forced to read my newspaper columns and watch my videos as part of their job. But you’re the deciders here. Let me know what you think is in the interests of the profession, the province, and the Constitution.


I’m being prosecuted for calling human rights commissions “crazy”

Here we go again.

This October I will be prosecuted for one charge of being “publicly discourteous or disrespectful to a Commissioner or Tribunal Chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission” and two charges that my “public comments regarding the Alberta Human Rights Commission were inappropriate and unbecoming and that such conduct is deserving of sanction.”

Because last year I wrote a newspaper editorial calling Alberta’s human rights commission “crazy”.

Have you ever heard of a journalist being prosecuted for being disrespectful towards a government agency? A journalist in Canada, that is — not in China or Russia.

I’ve been through something like this before. In February of 2006, I was the publisher of the Western Standard magazine. We ran a news story on the Danish cartoons of Mohammed and the deadly Muslim riots that followed. Being a news magazine, we included photos of the cartoons to show the central element of the story.

Muslim activists filed “hate speech” complaints against the magazine, and me personally, for reporting this legitimate news story. What followed was straight out of Kafka: a 900-day investigation by no fewer than 15 government bureaucrats and lawyers for the thought crime of publishing news “likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt.” Truth was not a defence; journalism was not a defence. The commission had invented a counterfeit human right not to be offended.

I spent $100,000 on legal fees before the commission dropped the charges against me — because they were taking such a beating in the media. Even the provincial cabinet minister in charge of the commission at the time, the Hon. Lindsay Blackett, told reporters the commission had become a “kangaroo court”. I guess he’s allowed to say that, but I’m not.

Over time human rights commissions have gotten much more scrutiny, and the federal human rights commission even had its censorship powers repealed by Parliament. But last year, Alberta’s commission stumbled back in the news. A Czech immigrant had failed the provincial engineering exam three times, so he complained to the commission that the exam was “discriminatory”. In a shocking ruling, they agreed and ordered Alberta’s engineering profession to lower their standards and pay the complainer $10,000.

I have an opinion about that. I think it’s: crazy. You may have the same opinion and, if you’re not a lawyer, you’re allowed to express it. I expressed it anyway. After all, I was a journalist and hadn’t practiced law in many years. My job was to express my opinion. Sun News hired me, as a journalist, to do exactly that.

This time the commission didn’t come for me. But one of their prosecutors did. Arman Chak filed a complaint to the Law Society of Alberta about my column. Even though I haven’t practiced law in years, I’m still a lawyer. That was his angle.

At first, the Law Society dismissed his complaint without even a hearing, as they do with other nuisance complaints filed against me over the years by my political opponents. It would be unprecedented to prosecute a journalist for having the wrong opinions about a government agency.

Alberta benchers aren’t always so fastidious about courtesy. Earlier this year Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s lawyer, stood outside the Edmonton court house, blaming Khadr’s legal situation on the legal system’s anti-Muslim “bigotry”. But like Chak, Edney is a law society bencher himself. He is not being prosecuted. Nor should he be — we need passionate lawyers, zealously advocating for their clients, even if they’re sometimes prickly.

To my knowledge the decision to prosecute me is unprecedented. Unlike Edney and his court-house remarks, I’m not even a practicing lawyer. I’m a journalist who happens to be trained in the law. There are tens of thousands of inactive lawyers like me in Canada. They include politicians like Peter MacKay and Thomas Mulcair. Sometimes these politician-lawyers are polite. Sometimes they aren’t. Two years ago, my fellow member of the Law Society of Alberta, an opposition politician named Rachel Notley, compared the Alberta Energy Regulator to a “banana republic”. It’s a quasi-judicial tribunal, like the human rights commission. But it’s unthinkable that the Law Society would have prosecuted her for being “discourteous” to a government agency. Because we live in a democracy and value public debate.

Well, I do too. And I’m going to keep calling the human rights commission “crazy” for the rest of my life. And the fact is that their old prosecutor is still trying to get me — that is a bit crazy, isn’t it?

Please help me cover the cost of defending against this prosecution. I estimate it will cost me $25,000 in legal fees. I’d be very grateful if you could help me, by making a secure donation 



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