A man charged for handing out anti-Islam flyers in Toronto was sentenced Tuesday to nine months in jail for promoting hate, among other charges, but is still allowed to hand out his flyers.
In February, Eric Brazau, 49, was convicted of willful promotion of hatred, criminal harassment, mischief and breach of probation by failing to keep the peace. He was charged in September, 2012.
The judge called Mr. Brazau’s conduct “despicable,” but rejected the Crown’s suggestion to stop Mr. Brazau from making and handing out the flyers because it would have imposed on him a higher standard than the Criminal Code’s section on the wilful promotion of hatred.
“Brazau’s speech and pamphlets not only vilified Muslims but demonstrate prejudice, intolerance and insensitivity towards Muslims and their religious values,” said Justice Ford Clements.
Mr. Brazau has already served nine months in pre-trial custody and said he will be appealing the sentence.
“As I appeal I will get a stay, and then I will continue handing out flyers,” he said. “The court did not say I cannot hand out flyers, he actually said that would be against my constitutional rights so that’s not been enforced.”
He said he will continue to hand out flyers during his probation, although they will be different from those that lead to his arrest.
“My voice is not going to be silenced,” he said. “Not only do I not see anything wrong with what I did, I see what I did as necessary.”
Judge Clements said the court does not have the right to moderate Mr. Brazau’s views, “as repugnant as they are,” and excluded the Crown’s suggestion that his probation include counselling and community service.
“In the context of this case and in particular Brazau’s firm belief and apparent unrepentant attitude, I see no real rehabilitative purpose,” Judge Clements said, noting however that deterrence measures were needed.
Mr. Brazau’s probation bars him from public places in downtown Toronto including the YMCA of Greater Toronto, Yonge and Dundas Square and Ryerson University. He has a criminal record dating back nearly 30 years. He is known for protesting during the funeral procession of slain Toronto police officer Sergeant Ryan Russell in 2011.
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