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Defence for a Lawyer's "Crazy Town" Comments

August 12, 2015

Ezra Levant, a lawyer who stopped practicing law to become a columnist and sometime legal commentator for Sun News, is a man of strong opinions. As is often the case with people who proclaim often controversial opinions in strident tones, Mr. Levant has earned himself no small number of enemies—here in Calgary and throughout Canada, it is safe to say, you can find people who revile him.

The most recent controversy involving Levant centers on an opinion piece in the Toronto Sun, in which he accuses the Alberta Human Rights Commission of ethnic and religious cronyism. Alberta's human rights prosecutor at the time the article came out last year was Arman Chak, and he filed a complaint with the Law Society of Alberta alleging that Levant's statements equaled misconduct that should have him tossed out of the legal profession.

After initially dismissing the complaint, a panel of Law Society members granted an appeal by Chak and could potentially revoke Levant's ability to practice law in Alberta (which he doesn't currently do, anyway).

Some of the issues here are more complex than they might seem at first: Levant's accusation is a very serious one, even though it is expressed as opinion, and it is also easy to interpret some of what he says in his "Crazy Town" article as racially offensive. His argument doesn't even directly address these issues; he simply states that as a member of the press he has the freedom to publish his opinions if he wants to—presumably stopping short of libel (publishing a false and damaging statement about someone), which he isn't accused of in the first place.

And here, no matter how distasteful Levant's choice of words might have been and no matter how wrong is opinion of certain human rights cases are—and without carefully combing through the cases he mentions, it's impossible to make a reliable determination—any proponent of civil liberties as to stand with Levant. If a member of the press, lawyer or no, can be punished simply for accusing the government of corruption or unfair collusion, we're living in a dangerous time.

It's true, the Law Society of Alberta isn't the government, but it is an institution that has a great deal of power to influence the law and lawmakers, and it shouldn't be used by public officials to punish people who say or print things they dislike. This would completely stifle meaningful opposition to all manner of government practices, policies, and officers, and that's a hefty price to pay simply to remove one thorn—especially a thorn that might have some merit to it.

Contact a Calgary Defence Lawyer Who Defends EVERYONE'S Rights

Levant may no longer be practicing law in Alberta, but I sure am. If you'd like to discuss your pending criminal charges with a passionate, aggressive defence lawyer, please contact my office to schedule a free initial consultation.

This entry was posted on August 12, 2015

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