The Internet communications revolution has been a boon to bigots. Case in point, Arthur Topham.
The 65-year-old miner who lives in the north-central B.C. town of Quesnel operates a nasty little blog called Radical Press, which espouses the idea that a worldwide cabal of Zionist Jews control the levers of power.
The web site includes a link to the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a core document for anti-Semites. Both it and another work found on the site, The Biological Jew, are banned in Canada.
Topham's been on the radar of B'nai Brith Canada for some time and its complaints about his site last May prompted a police investigation that led to criminal charges of promoting hatred against an identifiable group, specifically the Jewish people and religion.
Spokesman Neil MacKenzie of the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch told the National Post charges were approved by the assistant deputy attorney general and Topham is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
"We're glad that the government and the police have taken our concerns seriously and proceeded," Anita Bromberg of B'nai Brith Canada told the Post.
In a lengthy message on his site Tuesday, Topham asked supporters for donations for what he said would be a protracted legal fight against Jewish organizations behind Canada's hate-crime legislation.
"What this means for me is that I will be facing not only the Jewish lobby here in Canada but also a hostile judiciary that is now under the controlling hand of these anti-free speech zealots," Topham wrote.
He noted he's not the first to face charges under Canada's hate-promotion law, which remains controversial as a suppression of free speech and a questionable method of countering bigotry. They're fairly rare but inevitably become high-profile cases.
One of the best known was teacher James Keegstra, who who tried to brainwash his high school students in the small Alberta town of Eckville that a world Jewish conspiracy controlled world events down through history. Marks were based on how well students parroted back his theories.
The respected teacher never denied teaching these things to his captive audience but defended himself on grounds of free speech and an honest belief that what he said was true.
Keegstra's 1985 conviction was overturned after his lawyer, Douglas Christie, successfully appealed that it violated his Charter right to freedom of expression. But after years of legal wrangling, the Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled that while the hate-promotion law infringed on the Charter, it was a justified under Section 1 of the Charter as a reasonable restriction in a free and democratic society.
Topham, who also faces a firearms charge, has also enlisted Christie, who's carved out a career defending people like him as free-speech martyrs, as his lawyer.
The Post reported that in a transcript of his May 16 interview with Det. Const. Terry Wilson of the RCMP's hate-crime unit, Topham asked the investigator if he had been trained by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.
He lectured Wilson about how "Jews control what you're doing," scolded him and asked if he was a Christian.
"These guys have spent the last 2,000 years trying to destroy our religion and you like a judice are out here like a, like one of their dogs chasing down people who are trying to defend the Christian religion," Topham said, according to the transcript. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
In an email to the Post, Christie said "opposition to Zionism should not be illegal."
But Bromberg said Topham's site went beyond opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state, the definition of Zionism.
"This isn't a free-speech issue about the politics behind Israel," she said. "It is borrowing on age-old canards that raise our concerns that this is designed to spread hate."
Christie told QMI Agency that Canadian hate-speech laws are "instruments of oppression." People are free not to visit Topham's site, he added.