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

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois ‘guilty’ of contempt of court: Terrifying precedent for free speech by Ethan Cox, November 2, 2012,
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.

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