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Notes from Quebec by Ethan Cox

Ethan Cox's picture
rabble's Quebec correspondent, Ethan Cox is a 29 year-old journo, pundit and incorrigible rabble rouser from Montreal. A former union organizer and student union executive, Ethan has also worked on a number of successful municipal and federal election campaigns, and was a member of Quebec central office staff for the NDP in the 2011 election. More recently he served as Quebec Director and Senior Communications Advisor on Brian Topp's NDP leadership campaign. He now spends his time writing for rabble, freelancing for outlets like the National Post, appearing regularly on CJAD radio in Montreal and working on a book about austerity. You can follow him on twitter @EthanCoxMtl

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

| November 2, 2012
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. 




I guess WayneF is waiting until he gets thrown into jail for publicly expressing his political opinions, before he feels terrified.

Then I guess the rest of us can sit around and cluck our tongues about how "disturbed" we feel about it.

BTW, the same thing is happening in Scotland.

Confirmation of the reasoning behind the "need" for additional megaprisons - if you don't like the status quo, or prefer science to ideology, don't vote CPC, or disagree with the filthy-rich, you belong in jail. If the law doesn't work like this, throw the law out and make some new ones that do. 

It took a bit longer than expected, but 1984 is finally here.

Ethan let's not resort to hyperbole - a disturbing development perhaps, but TERRIFYING is just plain wrong.  Exaggeration of this sort trivializes situations that truly ARE terrifying - and it dilutes good communication. 
A bit like saying "we reached out..." when all that's meant is "got in touch..." - becoming a commonplace practice, but ignorant of the fact that "reaching out" relates to situations of difficulty and implies a level of conciliation or compassion.

A lawyer friend suggests the prosecutor may short circuit the appeal by offering to discharge the conviction.

Presumably not the same prosecutor who decided to proceed with the prosecution of Nadeau-Dubois in the first place?? Otherwise what was the point?

This judgement is WORTHY of contempt. I hereby contemn it. Do your dishonourable damnedest, your honour.

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