LONDON (December 3, 1994) - 56 Freedom Party members and supporters paid $50 a plate to attend a dinner held in honour of Gordon Domm, the ex-Ontario Provincial Police officer who has gained notoriety - and a conviction - over his distribution of banned information on the Karla Teale trial.
Domm is the co-ordinator and spokesman for Citizens' Coalition Favoring More Effective Criminal Sentences. His defiance of the Karla Teale trial ban has netted him convictions on two counts of "contempt of court" and a total fine of $4000. An appeal of his convictions is now pending.
Because of the appeal, Domm had been advised not discuss particulars of his trial. However, he did make available for the first time full copies of the official 160-page transcripts of his trial. (Interested individuals may contact Fp for details on how to get a copy.)
Following the dinner, Domm became one of three panellists discussing publication bans and Canada's criminal justice system. He was joined by David Helwig, publisher of the Business Times, and by Fp president Robert Metz who both also had personal experiences with publication bans.
"But what do we get from our lawmakers? Well, they blame 'society' for all the crime. They pass more laws restricting the freedoms of law-abiding citizens, like gun control and banning 'violence' in the media, and give us more leniency on the people who are actually breaking the law."
"Governments cannot be expected to voluntarily give up habits of secrecy. They know too well that political advantage is easily gained by keeping the public ignorant of public business. People just do not complain about what they don't know about. Ignorance is bliss. Politicians learned that a long time ago.
"We need strong legislation and we need comprehensive legislation, legislation with penalties to make sure that closed meetings and closed hearings are used only for legitimate purposes.
"I belong to no political parties. I'm here to help people understand that when government uses needless secrecy, it thwarts democracy. How can you vote intelligently if you can never learn the positions advocated by your elected representatives? How can you vote knowledgeably if they make all their arguments in closed sessions? How can citizens respond appropriately to government actions if they can't find out what the actions are? How can they be assured that our courts are functioning properly if judges can impose bans on publications on a whim?
"If the law allows Gordon Domm's conviction to be upheld on appeal, if that's the way our judges are going to behave, then very simply the law must be changed."
"When Robert Metz called me a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in speaking here, well certainly, I would be. I'm sure he's aware that there may be some backlash from some protectors of the status quo, for inviting me here. He's willing to take that risk in the name of freedom to give me a chance to talk to you. I have here a flyer from the Freedom Party that impressed me very much. It says that "Freedom Party believes that the purpose of government is to protect our freedom of choice, not to restrict it."
"But what's really happening today is that governments are protecting the rights of vested interest groups who shout the loudest and who have the most votes and the most support to offer the government in power. And they're doing that at the expense of people like you and I, as individuals. They're not giving, they're taking away from the individual's rights to freedom, to safety on the streets --- by taking away individuals' authority and giving it to the powerful minorities.
"Some day, you could be, or I could be, or someone could be arrested. We could be hauled off to jail. There could be a publication ban so they wouldn't tell anybody. They could have you in jail for 18 months, like they have Paul Bernardo, without even so much as a preliminary.
"You see, I'm not defending Paul Bernardo. I think he's involved for sure, but we have to prove that in court, don't we? I thought we did. I thought that was what criminal law was all about! If they can do it to Paul, they can do it to you or me someday. Anybody! Think about that for a second."
More of Domm's insights into Canada's criminal justice system will be featured in our next issue of consent (#22).
last updated on April 28, 2002