A Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing in Toronto was adjourned unexpectedly Monday after the accused Georgetown man stormed out of the room, yelling and accusing a witness of slander. Craig Harrison, 40, has been accused of posting hate propaganda on a Toronto website calling for the murder of the family of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, blacks, non-whites, francophones and aboriginals. Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who filed the initial complaint, testified that he found 71 messages on the website http://www.freedomsite.org and he believes Harrison posted them because one of the messages referred to a crime of which Harrison had already been convicted. That website posting read: "I'm the guy who got 2 for thumpin that nigger on main street." Harrison spent two years in jail when he was convicted in 1996 of assault causing bodily harm after attacking a black man, a Georgetown shopkeeper, while shouting racial slurs. During Warman's testimony, Harrison became upset and began yelling before leaving the courtroom. "It wasn't racist, watch your language, boy," Harrison said. "That's slander, there's nothing racist about it."
Local man accused of posting hate messages on Internet leaves Human Rights Tribunal
The hearing was adjourned and Harrison did not return. Michel Doucet, who is chairman of the hearing, said a letter would be issued to Harrison informing him the hearing would continue whether Harrison appeared yesterday (Tuesday) morning or not Harrison did not return yesterday. Warman said Tuesday afternoon that when Harrison was served with the letter from the tribunal he indicated he would no longer be participating in the hearing. He said a representative from Bell Sympatico appeared at the hearing Tuesday and stated Bell corporate security records show that six or seven different posting times he (Warman) attributed to Harrison on the Freedomsite matched times that Harrison and his wife Susan Holmes's computer was logged onto the Internet. If found responsible for the postings, Harrison may have to pay a penalty of up to $10,000 and face a permanent court order preventing him from posting hate propaganda on the Internet. Elizabeth Carmichael, chair of the North Halton Cultural Awareness Council, said police face many challenges when investigating hate propaganda on the Internet. "It's so difficult to charge a person," said Carmichael. "It goes across countries. Many times the person can be living here in Canada and the message can be originating in the United States." "The danger of the Internet is the facelessness of it," said Carmichael. Hate propaganda on the Internet was also a topic of discussion at the Canadian Telecom Conference in Mississauga, where Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, spoke of the challenge balancing the right of freedom of speech with the right of individuals not to be the object of hate speech. "Since the mid-'90s, they've moved from street corners to the Internet cafés," said Farber. Abbe Corb, with the Hate Crime Extremism Investigative Team, of which Halton Police and several other police services are members, said the Internet "has made hate more accessible." "Like-minded people can reach others with the click of a mouse," said Corb. Law enforcement officers face several challenges, including dealing with outdated laws, given the speed at which Internet access has developed in recent years. "It can be derogatory and illegal for a long time before anything is done to declare it illegal," said Sgt. Don McKinnon, detective with the youth and hate crime branch in London, Ont. Corb said identifying the individual posting propaganda on the Internet is also a challenge for police.