The Toronto Police Service is investigating an offensive anti-Semitic newsletter over allegations it willfully promoted hate and hate propaganda.
Scott Purches, a detective with the intelligence branch of the Toronto Police, confirmed with National Observer that an active investigation is ongoing into the publication known as Your Ward News. Judy Foote, the minister of public services and procurement, ordered Canada Post to cease distribution of the newsletter in early June.
“Right now [we’re] in the midst of the investigation to evaluate it to see if it meets the threshold of hate propaganda,” Purches said.
The detective said that the branch has been looking at Your Ward News since the spring of 2015 following complaints from the public. This is the first confirmation that an investigation is underway.
The investigation would probe both the content on both the print version and the publication’s web site, he explained. It would then consider the appropriate sections of the federal criminal code to see if it meets the criteria for the willful promotion of hate and hate propaganda.
The criminal code defines hate propaganda as any writing, sign or visible representation advocating or promoting genocide or its communication
Another section of the code makes it a crime to communicate, except in private conversation, statements that willfully promote hatred against an identifiable group.
What people are reading
James Sears, the newsletter’s publisher, maintains that the publication is political satire.
“That’s how he’s presenting himself,” Purches said. “That is the fine line in which we have to objectively evaluate the material."
Once the detective completes his evaluation, an investigative package will go to the Ontario Attorney-General’s office and it will determine whether or not charges are laid before a justice of the peace or a judge.
Purches couldn’t say when he might wrap up his investigation.
Citizens' coalition welcomes police investigation
Lisa Kinsella, a member of a broad coalition of citizens and activists in Toronto who have been trying to have the publication stopped, applauded the news of the investigation.
“I think it’s about time,” she said. “It’s a good decision on their part and I hope they follow it to their full conclusion.
“We’ve worked very hard to make sure we keep this trash out of our mail boxes. The government of Canada did their part and we did our part and it’s time for the police to do their part.”
Canada Post was ordered to stop distributing Your Ward News in June. Sears is currently appealing the government order.
In late April, Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman filed a strongly-worded human rights complaint against Canada Post and the Canadian government in order to stop distribution of the offensive newsletter.
“Canada Post and the Government of Canada are regularly and knowingly delivering misogynist, racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and homophobic hate propaganda into Toronto-area homes," alleged Warman in his complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Since 2015, Your Ward News has been the subject of complaints from the public and postal workers alike, who have bristled at the newsletter’s alleged hate propaganda.