rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois 'guilty' of contempt of court: Terrifying precedent for free speech

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, former spokesperson for CLASSE and one of the most recognizable faces of this year's student movement, has been found guilty of contempt of court. 

Quebec Superior Court Justice Denis Jacques took over a month to deliberate on the case, which was heard on the 27th and 28th of September, before ruling on Thursday that Nadeau-Dubois was guilty of contempt of court for publicly asserting that picket lines were a legitimate tactic to enforce democratically voted strike mandates. 

The case was brought by Jean-François Morasse, a Université Laval student, who obtained an injunction allowing him to return to class in May, despite a majority of his fellow students voting to continue striking. 

Morasse blamed Nadeau-Dubois' defence of picket lines for preventing his return to class, and for causing him to be the target of ridicule and harassment. He stated publicly that he wanted to see Nadeau-Dubois in jail. 

On Friday morning Nadeau-Dubois announced his intention to appeal, and asked supporters to help him cover the costs of the drawn out court battle. You can read the appeal for support here

He said "with all respect" that the judge was mistaken, and he had never advocated anarchy. He also pointed to the terrible precedent this case could set, where a spokesperson could be jailed for articulating the views of their organization, and for expressing an opinion on a broad philosophical point, such as the legitimacy of picket lines.

I have a hard time believing this ruling will be upheld on appeal. A lawyer friend suggests the prosecutor may short circuit the appeal by offering to discharge the conviction. Failing that, I would hope it would be overturned.

Whether you support Nadeau-Dubois and the student movement or not, this ruling establishes a terrifying precedent with far reaching ramifications for free speech. 

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.