The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that a white supremacist who posted hate propaganda on the Internet is not in contempt of the court, but only on a technicality.
The court's written ruling notes that Terry Tremaine, a former University of Saskatchewan math lecturer, has a particular hatred for blacks, First Nations people and Jews.
"Mr. Tremaine thinks (or perhaps just wishes) he is better than others because of the colour of his skin," Federal Court Judge Sean Harrington wrote in his judgment this week. "He is a white supremacist."
"He is also a neo-Nazi. He is virulently anti-Jewish."
The Canadian Human Rights Commission proved that Mr. Tremaine deliberately flaunted a February 2007 order of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop communicating his racist views on the Internet.
The tribunal originally fined Mr. Tremaine $4,000 for his violations of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Judge Harrington, who dismissed a contempt charge launched by the commission in March 2009, said Mr. Tremaine knows he violated the tribunal's order.
"Indeed, he brags about it and admitted it before me," Judge Harrington wrote of the recent hearing on the matter in Victoria.
The tribunal registers its orders with the Federal Court, which then enforces them.
But Mr. Tremaine argued that the tribunal failed to immediately notify him that the order had been registered, and the judge agreed.
He also said he wasn't ordered to delete existing messages from his own website or another white supremacist site based in the United States.
Judge Harrington also accepted Tremaine's defence that the order did not make it sufficiently clear that he had to remove, or at least do his best to remove, material from the Internet that the tribunal found hateful.
Stacey-Ann Morris, a spokeswoman for the human rights commission, said Tuesday that the commission is carefully reviewing the court's decision before determining its next steps.
Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman, who filed the original complaint against Mr. Tremaine in 2004, said the man still operates his website despite the cease-and-desist order.
"It's not clear what has to be done to require Mr. Tremaine to respect the law," Mr. Warman said.
"It can't be that Mr. Tremaine can continue to pay for his website that calls for race war and genocide when he's the subject of a clear order that he stop disseminating hate propaganda."
Mr. Tremaine was represented at the hearing by Doug Christie, whose previous clients include Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel, former Saskatchewan First Nations leader David Ahenakew and Paul Fromm, a former Ontario teacher fired for his association with neo-Nazi groups and his attendance at white supremacist events.
Mr. Warman said he and the human rights commission will decide whether to appeal the ruling or get the court to vary the order to make it clear that Mr. Tremaine has to take down his website.
At the hearing, Mr. Tremaine argued that Mr. Warman was persecuting him.
Mr. Tremaine claims to be the leader of an unregistered political party called the National Socialist Party of Canada, for which he has set up a website to promote his beliefs.
Among those beliefs, the judge noted, Mr. Tremaine believes blacks and First Nations are somehow in league with one another and "he is fond of Adolph Hitler, who got it right - even though the holocaust is a hoax."
Mr. Tremaine has been charged criminally in Saskatchewan for disseminating hate propaganda and Mr. Warman said part of Mr. Tremaine's bail conditions are that he not be involved in further neo-Nazi activities on the Internet.