'HEROIC' HATE FIGHTER BRINGS THE BATTLE WEST

'HEROIC' HATE FIGHTER BRINGS THE BATTLE WEST(Canada)

16/7/2006- At Queen's University, Richard Warman was happiest on a theatre stage. The Ottawa lawyer now spends much of his free time and his own money as an anti-hate crusader, on the warpath against neo-Nazis and hate messages on the Internet. Warman, in town to testify at a human rights tribunal into the alleged online hate activities of a Tofield-area man, celebrated a landmark victory Thursday after a complaint he filed led to the jailing of a white supremacist. The Federal Court incarcerated Tomasz Winnicki, of London, Ont., for nine months for violating a court order to stop spreading hate messages against Jews, blacks and immigrants on the Internet. It's all in a day's work for Warman, who has filed more than 15 human rights complaints since being called to the bar in 2001. Before his most recent victory, he counted four wins and settled two other cases through mediation. Several decisions are pending. Warman takes his inspiration from human rights commission lawyer Eddie Taylor, who argued the case against the Heritage Front -- a group of neo-Nazis then active in Toronto -- in the 1990s. Warman went to the hearings and watched Taylor in action. 'One of the things he wanted to do to neo-Nazis was make it so expensive and painful for them that they would never want to come back in a professional context,' Warman said. And so, his human rights crusade against hatred began.

'The impact of his work is quite incredible,' said Bernie M. Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress who has worked with Warman for years on hate-crime complaints. 'He's a hero. He's an individual who single-handedly takes on hate mongers and curbs the discourse of hate mongers on the Internet.' Warman spends five to 10 hours a week of his own time investigating hate crimes while holding down a day job in Ottawa. He was once a Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator, and has spent weeks in Alberta over the past several months on complaints he filed against Edmonton-based Western Canada for Us, and its alleged co-founders, Glenn Bahr and Peter Kouba. Warman targeted the group over the rapid growth of its neo-Nazi, white supremacist postings on the Web. Warman files complaints because those found guilty under Canadian human rights legislation are subject to permanent cease-and-desist orders and fines. 'By knocking them off the Internet permanently, you've put a major restriction on their ability to communicate and organize,' Warman said. His efforts to quash those hate speech elements, while not well-known, are appreciated by local minority groups. 'We always take comfort when the general population within a community takes a stand against racism and hateful speech,' said Shaukat Moloo of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. 'We are comforted when someone stands up and challenges them ... by using the due process of law.' His efforts, however, do not always draw such positive energy.

He is not Jewish, nor a member of a minority targeted by the groups he goes after. 'I'm as WASP as it gets,' Warman said. But he has been the subject of numerous death threats and must take precautions for his own personal safety. He does not talk about his current day job, where he lives, or his family. He is, however, more willing to talk about his past. He visited South Africa in 1995 and in 1998, as official apartheid rule ended. Seeing South African life shaped his views on racism against blacks and its lasting effects. His legal work is a far cry from his formative years spent as an actor working on a theatre degree from Queen's. The drama in his life is now fueled by his unrelenting determination to fight hate speech in Canada. 'It's still theatre, just in a different playhouse, if you will,' Warman said.

Edmonton Journal http://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/index.html