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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sears and St. Germaine's sentencing delayed yet again

Here we are with yet another chapter in what seems like the never-ending saga of the James Sears/LeRoy St. Germaine sentencing hearing. Those of you who have stuck with me through this mess will recall that Sears and St. Germaine of Your Ward News were convicted of wilfully promoting hatred against women and Jews back in January. The sentencing hearing began on April 26th, and devolved quickly when Sears' delivered a truncated version of his 62 page allocution. Sears should have been sentenced on May 31st, but then he decided to fire his lawyer for, to use his words, "throwing the case." He had all sorts of grand plans for launching a constitutional challenge, among other things, now that he is self-represented, so I knew we were in for a rough ride on July 15th. 

Unlike Sears' last appearance in April, I had no illusion that this would be the end, but I also didn't expect it to feel like a new beginning either.

Determined to "have his day in court," Sears compiled a 79 page submission, with a 29 page addendum, dealing mainly with what he perceives as violations of his Charter rights. Justice Blouin determined none of these had any merit, however, he was willing to entertain the possibility that Sears did not have a fair trial due to his lawyer, Dean Embry's, decision not to call any witnesses. 

Blouin, who is set to retire at the end of August, is widely quoted as telling Sears and the court that:
“My overarching obligation is to ensure a fair trial. I’m allowing Mr. Sears an opportunity to satisfy me that this is an exceptional case and I should re-open this trial or declare a mistrial at this late date. [Sears has] made the argument that Mr. Embry basically threw the case. That’s an issue I’m going to have to decide.’’
Sears now has two weeks to put forward a list of potential witnesses, their credentials, and what they would add to the proceedings. According to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, Sears intends to call Embry as a witness, along with "experts" in satire, and a former YWN columnist who is apparently an Ethiopian Jew. Blouin will then have to decide whether to reopen the case, declare a mistrial, or press on with sentencing.

The standard "I'm not a lawyer, but..." caveat applies here, however, it is my understanding that satire has only successfully been used as a defence in Canada for copyright issues. Other racists, including Gary Schipper from the Heritage Front days, have tried to lean on humour as a defence in the past, but without success. If Blouin does reopen the trial, I'm very interested to see how they determine who can be considered an expert in satire for this case, and whether anyone could possibly argue about Sears' intentions regarding his hate-filled rants in YWN without relying on a psych evaluation.

While this circus plays out, St. Germaine's sentencing is also up in the air.

St. Germaine, who is Metis, had his lawyer present the findings of his Gladue Report, which showed that due to the trauma suffered by his father, and the challenging upbringing St. Germaine experienced as a result, these factors should be taken into account for sentencing, and that alternatives to a custodial sentence should be considered. A source who was in attendance said that there was a discussion of having a Victim Offender Reconciliation Meeting, however, that has yet to be decided.

St. Germaine, who we learned has only a grade 8 education, and a criminal record from the 1980s for "break and enter, theft, assault causing bodily harm and assaulting a police officer," (DiManno), had an opportunity to deliver his own allocution. While I'm hoping to find more details, he appears to remain angry and unrepentant, and is quoted as saying:
“I believe in free speech. And I think I’ve done my due diligence in checking Mr. Sears’s material. Besides, there were only some 200 complaints made against the paper over the years, during which 6 million plus editions of the Your Ward News were distributed. If it offends people, for the number of people reading to the number being offended was a wide gap.”
There is some good news, however. St. Germaine has apparently decided to permanently cease publishing YWN and plans to disassociate himself from Sears. He presents such a mixed message of being both unrepentant and yet ready to move on that it is hard to predict what the judge will finally decide with regards to sentencing.

Clearly, Justice Blouin will have a lot to consider prior to reconvening on August 1st. He is probably quite looking forward to retiring, given the headaches this case is causing. Hopefully he will be motivated to finally sentence these two, since most people, including me, would like this circus of a case to finally end. Sears' stalling tactics and theatrics have an impact on the identifiable groups and individuals targeted by the hate rag:
Sears and St Germaine have been found guilty. It is my hope that before the summer is over, those targeted by YWN will find some closure and peace.


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