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The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that racist messages posted on two white-supremacy websites violated Canada's hate laws, and fined the two men responsible for the material.

In a decision released yesterday, the tribunal said those now-defunct websites -- run by groups calling themselves the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team and Tri-City Skins -- contained hate messages that exposed non-Christians and non-whites to "hatred and contempt."

The sites included jokes about killing blacks, Jews, Sikhs and Muslims, and contained a wide range of racist commentary.

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"This confirms that Canadians have no patience for hate in our society," Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer Monette Maillet said yesterday.

"Although it's a slow fight to combat hate, it's one step at a time," she said.

The tribunal has shut down Internet sites in a half-dozen cases in the past few years.

The first major Internet-related decision came in 2002, when it forced Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel to shutter his website.

In yesterday's ruling, the tribunal ordered two Ontario men, Alexan Kulbashian and James Scott Richardson, to cease and desist from distributing hate messages over the Internet.

It also shut down Mr. Kulbashian's web-hosting service, Affordable Space.com, because it was used as a base for hate-related sites.

The two men were each fined $1,000, the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team was fined $3,000, and Affordable Space.com was fined $3,000. Mr. Kulbashian was ordered to pay $5,000 to Ottawa human-rights lawyer Richard Warman, who was the subject of personal attacks on the website.

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It was Mr. Warman who first launched the human-rights complaint about the sites in 2002.

A long-time crusader against racist material on the Internet, Mr. Warman has had success in getting sites shut down, and the lawyer has several more cases before the tribunal.

Each one is important, he said, because there are not a large number of people in leadership roles in the white supremacist or neo-Nazi movements, and it is possible to put a crimp in their behaviour through these kinds of actions.

"My approach has always been that once you start targeting that small number of leaders, anyone else who might be thinking about stepping up to the plate will have cause to reconsider," he said.

"You won't ever fully solve the problem, but the goal is to contain it and to minimize it," the human rights lawyer said.

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