The legal sagas of Scott Brockie continue, more than eight years after a complaint was first filed against the Christian printer from Toronto for refusing to publish gay- and lesbian-oriented literature.
In the latest installment, the Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed a Divisional Court ruling and put Brockie on the hook for more than $40,000, which includes legal costs – his, those of the Gay and Lesbian Archives and those of the Ontario Human Rights Commission – as well as a $5,000 fine that was levied against him in 1999. That’s in addition to almost $100,000 in legal fees previously expended.
The Divisional Court had earlier found that Brockie was entitled to $25,000 in costs because it felt he had won a significant victory from his appeals of lower court rulings on the human rights complaint. However, the Appeals Court threw all of that out with its ruling on March 30.
“It’s fascinating to me that the three Divisional Court judges, who heard the entire case, made, in their estimation, a rational, fair decision and it was instantly turned around. Welcome to the world of Canadian courts!” Brockie told The Interim with more than a little chagrin.
“The only way to appeal now would be to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, and there’s no guarantee they would hear an appeal,” he added. “We’re not sure that’s the way to go. There could be more of a risk by going there … If the other side decides its cost awards aren’t enough, it could appeal it as well.”
Brockie has received support from a wide segment of the Canadian community, including the Catholic Civil Rights League, a spokesman for which suggested that the latest court ruling brings the administration of justice into disrepute.
“That point is passed when a Christian printer is ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, is fined $5,000 for having refused to do so and is left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself,” said Sean Murphy from the CCRL.
London Free Press columnist Rory Leishman, in a May 4 piece on the matter, commented that judicial activists “have destroyed the rule of law for all Canadians.”
In Saskatchewan, Hugh Owens is appealing a ruling by that province’s human rights commission, which ordered him to pay $15,000 to three homosexuals who claimed they were offended by a newspaper advertisement he placed that contained a list of Bible verses opposed to homosexuality.
Owens, who is representing himself, has already lost one appeal and if he loses again, could, like Brockie, be hit with tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills by a prosecuting human rights commission.
Various efforts are underway to relieve Brockie of his financial burden. A defence fund has been in existence for some time and is still running at Royal Bank Branch #3132, 33 City Centre Dr., Mississauga, Ont., L5B 2N5. The account number is 507-721-9.
Brockie stressed that members of his church are administering the defence fund at arms length from him, so he is unable to ascertain who has contributed to it. He thanks all both for their past support and in advance for what they will contribute in the future.
A fundraising dinner is also being organized by the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre. The event will be held June 26 at the Heritage Christian School in Jordan, Ont., with guest speaker Senator Anne Cools. For tickets and other information, contact: Wilf Wikkerink at (905) 682-3371; Lynne Scime at (905) 575-5129; or Paul Tuns at (416) 204-1687. You can also e-mail Rev. Tristan Emmanuel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking back over the past eight years, Brockie said there is nothing major he would have done differently if he had a chance to do it over again. “I think the process is tilted against those who hold socially conservative views in the first place. It’s an uphill battle to start with,” he said.
He observed that in his case and others, social conservatives are reaping the results of their failure to get involved in the corridors of power where the big decisions are made.
“What we really need to have happen is for those who have socially conservative views to get themselves into positions of influence. As much as we say the system needs to be changed, unless we’re on the inside, we don’t have a hope of changing it.”
He also lamented the laissez-faire attitude of some of Canada’s spiritual leaders, who are content to have politicians remain part of their congregations while espousing immoral views. He cited former Progressive Conservative party leader Joe Clark as a prime example.
“In Canada, we can get away with pleasing two masters. How does a guy like Joe Clark have the audacity to even refer to himself as a Catholic when anything he holds on any moral view is completely against the Catholic church’s teaching? … Why hasn’t a guy like that been excommunicated?”
Brockie added that Christians and social conservatives have been “the first to complain about something afterwards, but if they had been there in the first place, things would have been different.”
He pointed to Keith Norton, a homosexual activist and head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as a model for what social conservatives should be doing. “He put himself in a position to influence culture. The church has a lot to learn from people like that. The homosexual community, 20 or 30 years ago, didn’t write the laws of the land, so they personally knocked on all the doors of people in power.”