The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the comedian’s case on Monday Mike ward, 10 years after he made jokes about Jeremy Gabriel. The country’s highest court will have to examine the limits of freedom of expression and dignity.
“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental values of our society. On the other hand, we plead dignity, which is also a fundamental value. So the Court will have to decide, ”explains Mike Ward’s lawyer, Me Julius Gray.
The hearing will take place virtually. Lawyers for both parties as well as several interveners, such as the Human Rights Commission, will take the floor.
“It is a national cause. We can also see it by the speakers who joined the cause, who also want to present their point of view on freedom of expression and other constitutional rights ”, raises Jérémy Gabriel’s lawyer, Me Stephane Harvey.
“The rights of one begin where the rights of the other end, and vice versa, so it will be a question of dosage”, continues Me Stéphane Harvey.
10 years of saga
The judicial saga begins in 2010. The comedian then gives a show several times in which he makes fun of the handicap of Jérémy Gabriel.
The teenager, known in particular for having sung with the Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, suffered from Treacher-Collins syndrome, a congenital disease characterized, in him, by head deformities and profound deafness.
In November 2019, the Court of Appeal ordered Mike Ward to pay Jérémy Gabriel $ 35,000, a decision that upheld that rendered by the Human Rights Tribunal. The comedian then turned to the Supreme Court.
An important question
Me Julius Gray recalls that all the files that reach the highest court in the country are important for society and the legal system, “because they are essential, crucial questions for Canada and for Quebec”, emphasizes -he.
“This case is a very important cause since it concerns freedom of expression which is, in my opinion, an unshakeable value”, adds Me Julius Gray, lawyer for Mike Ward.
Not only freedom of expression is in the spotlight, but also the dignity of the person. “I think it will become a kind of guide, that decision,” says Stéphane Harvey.
“There are multiple decisions that have been rendered across Canada, but legal uncertainty remains because we no longer know exactly what to expect and, precisely, where it ends, this famous freedom of expression, ”adds the lawyer.
He admits that his client wants to turn the page. “He can’t wait for all of this to be behind him, so we hope to be successful,” he said.
Unless the ruling is delivered tomorrow, which seems unlikely, lawyers say, the Supreme Court will rule in the coming months.