May 6, 1999
Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner
Fourth Floor, 1675 Douglas Street
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9A4
Attention: Helga Driedger Registrar of Inquiries
Dear Ms. Driedger:
RE: A Request for Review between an applicant and the Ministry of Attorney
General (public body)
My client: BERNARD KLATT
I have for reply your letter of April 29, 1999.
I have now read the submission of the Vancouver Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the Ministry of the Attorney General. I would like to reply in a straight forward simple manner as follows:
The entire substance of the positions of the parties enumerated above demonstrates the politicization of the law. The assessment of the issue of free speech seems to have totally escaped the Vancouver Police Department and the R.C.M.P. concerns. It is quite obvious they have never read or considered the words of John Stuart Mill, or any of a long series of philosophical writers who express concern about freedom of speech. They are a classic example of bureaucrats anxious to protect their power base and the influence of their connections with other bodies. They totally ignore the fact Mr. Klatt is not seeking any of their precious private sources. The B.C. Tel report is supposed to enumerate and articulate the limits on free speech which a publicly regulated company acknowledges.
Mr. Klatt is endeavoring to understand the application of the law to the Internet service provider position which he at one time held, and needs to know what B.C. Tel is prepared to acknowledge in the way of controlling speech on the Internet or website through an Internet Service Provider (I.S.P.). B.C. Tel does not take responsibility for threatening phone calls. Mr. Klatt did not take responsibility for the content of websites which could be changed in an instant by someone other than him. This is new technology and Mr. Klatt, like any I.S.P., needs to know what B.C. Tel regards as its legal obligations, and what it is prepared to do to suppress freedom of expression.
The Attorney General and the other Intervenors basically want to protect not so much their private sources or public interest, but their power to suppress freedom of expression and eliminate and intimidate those who dare to defy this nebulous new authority they have to regulate speech in the name
of obstructing or eliminating hate, The R.C.M.P. submission graciously acknowledges at one point that they can't suppress "hate groups". No one has been able to define this term succinctly. There have been no prosecutions under the Criminal Code in British Columbia and very few in Canada to articulate what type of speech is intended to be defined as such. We enclose for your consideration on this subject an article of Terry Heinrichs from the Alberta Law Review.
Not long ago I cross-examined Sgt. McKenna in the Berscheid Judicial Review. In that case he acknowledged there were no prosecutions in British Columbia for promoting hatred under the Criminal Code, and there had been two under the new amendments under the B.C. Human Rights Code, sections 7(1)(a) and (b), namely Doug Collins and William Berscheid. The Berscheid case ended when the Indian Band withdrew the complaint. The Collins case is currently before the Supreme Court of British Columbia for judicial review. I am counsel for both Berscheid and Collins and we think we all have a vested interest in finding out what the limits and proper application of the law is. Mr. Klatt shares the same concern.
The parties opposing disclosure also failed to acknowledge that it is not a private police record that Mr. Klatt is seeking to accomplish, with the exception of the report of Sgt. McKenna on the Oliver meeting, That was a public meeting, and we have reason to believe the police participated, together with Mr. Littman, in suppressing freedom of expression on that occasion. Naturally they want to hide the attempts and efforts they made to suppress freedom of speech and to destroy a lawful assembly. They do not want to be liable for any question or possible litigation over their conduct in that regard.
It is a sad comment on our time that now that lawful assembly and freedom of speech is being threatened by bureaucrats they seem to hide their actions in its suppression. It is clear that nothing happened in the Oliver meeting when Mr. Collins spoke, Mr. Klatt spoke, and Paul Fromm spoke. Mr. McKenna was there. We simply want the report of Mr. McKenna on that meeting to determine if the R.C.M.P. were instrumental or active in intimidating the town of Oliver to cancel the venue.
We think freedom of assembly and freedom of association are being threatened by collaboration of the police in threats of violence and intimidation. Our view is the police should be protecting the rights of freedom of expression, not helping to suppress them. We have reason to believe Mr. McKenna's report demonstrates co-operation with Mr. Dosanjh's left-wing agenda to suppress those he regards as right-wing. Of course, anyone who advocates free speech is now in that category.
In our view the three items we have requested, the Littman report to the Attorney General, the B.C. Tel Report to the Attorney General are not private police documents, and the McKenna Report to the Attorney General is equally necessary to assess the actions of the police in the possible suppression of lawful assembly. It is absolutely clear that in the meeting in Oliver to which the third request relates, there was no illegal activity and Mr. McKenna stood within ten feet of Mr. Collins, Mr. Fromm and Mr. Klatt when they spoke from the City Hall steps at the Oliver City Hall.
All of the pious utterances of the Assistant Commissioner, Murray Johnston, or of the Vancouver City Police, or of K.L. Sinclair, of Legal Services Branch notwithstanding, there was no secret criminal activity taking place in any of the circumstances. Nothing in the nature of public interest requires the protection of this information except protection of the parties involved from a revelation of their own oppressive contempt for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In our view, their desire to prevent access to this information reflects more a fear of possible litigation for their conduct than any genuine concern for the public interest. Perhaps that is why they fail to address the specific items requested and talk in vague generalities about international investigations.
There is no international investigation of the meeting held on the Oliver City Hall steps, and that is the one to which we request Mr. McKenna's report. There is no international investigation of the BC Tel report to the Attorney General, and that is the document we seek access to. There is no international investigation of Sol Littman's letter to the Attorney General, and that is the document we seek access to.
For the reasons expressed herein these documents should now be released to Mr. Klatt for his consideration since they directly relate to him and no doubt indicate things about him that are not true and need to be corrected on the public record.
Douglas H. Christie