It is this Monday that begins the trial in Supreme Court which opposes the humorist Mike ward to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse and Jeremy Gabriel.
The highest court in the country announced last July that it agreed to hear the case of the comedian, after the latter was dismissed in the Court of Appeal in November 2019.
This judgment had come to confirm the decision of first instance, that is to say the Tribunal des droits de la personne, which had condemned Mike Ward to pay $ 35,000 to Jérémy Gabriel for having made fun of his disability on stage.
“It may be a pivotal decision on freedom of expression, but also on its limits,” said Me Stephane Harvey, which represents Jeremy Gabriel as well as his mother, Sylvie Gabriel.
The latter is asking the Supreme Court to restore the compensation awarded to her by the Human Rights Tribunal, but which had been canceled by the Court of Appeal.
“Many judgments have been rendered across Canada on freedom of expression… and I believe that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to set the record straight,” adds Me Harvey.
Yes, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to freedom of expression, but it also protects the right to dignity, recalls the lawyer from Quebec.
For his part, Mike Ward is represented by the renowned lawyer Julius Gray. The latter is supported by his colleagues from Gray casgrain, My Genevieve Gray, Isabelle Turgeon and Julia atack.
My Stephanie Fournier, Lysiane Clement-Major and Genevieve St-Laurent act on behalf of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.
Me Walid Hijazi represents the Association of Professionals in the Comedy Industry.
My Guy Régimbald, by Gowling WLG and Stephane Beaulac, of Dentons, represent the International Commission of Jurists.
My Christopher D. Bredt, Laura Wagner and Mannu chowdhury, from BLG, defend the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Finally, Me Annamaria Enenajor, of Toronto-based Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe, acts on behalf of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.