Luca Caruso-Moro
CTV News Montreal Digital Reporter

@ LucaCarusoMoro

Quebec comedian Mike Ward’s case goes to the Supreme Court of Canada today, appealing for a hefty fine for jokes he made 10 years ago that some consider offensive

The Quebec Supreme Court has already upheld a human rights court ruling that comedian Jeremy Gabriel, a singer with disabilities, has to pay damages

Gabriel has Treacher Collins Syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by skull and facial deformities. He became a celebrity in Quebec while working with Celine Dion as a child and for Pope Benedict XVI Sang

On shows between 2010 and 2013, Ward joked that he thought Gabriel had an incurable disease and that people were just being nice to him because he was going to die soon.Ward then joked that after realizing the child was not going to die, tried to drown it

The Supreme Court will have to decide two things after the hearing on Monday: Does freedom of expression protect artistic discourse as well as political discourse? And does mocking personal characteristics mean discrimination?

Ward’s attorney Julius Gray was the first to come up with his case, saying Gabriel wasn’t the target of Ward’s jokes.Instead, he said Ward tried to be deliberately off-limits with jokes targeting multiple personalities, not only on Gabriel

“[Gabriel] had no right not to be offended,” said Gray. “Mockery does not deprive anyone of a service or a right ”

“Come on,” interrupted Judge Russell Brown, “Don’t go that far. We’re not talking about Galileo or Salman Rushdie. He’s not a hero”

“We’re talking about someone who said they tried to drown a 13-year-old with a physical disability,” added Judge Sheilah Martin

The Comedy Industry Professionals Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the B’naï Brith Canada Human Rights League were among the speakers in the court

“A lot of comedy is in bad taste,” said Christopher Bredt, an attorney for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who pushed for a freedom of speech decision

As she spoke in turn, a lawyer from the Personal and Personal Issues Commission told the court that they were not arguing over questions of taste

“This case is not about morality or good taste. It is about discrimination,” said Stéphanie Fournier, “[It’s about] discrimination against a child, discrimination against a disabled child”

In 2016, the Quebec Human Rights Court ordered Ward to seek moral and criminal damages to Gabriel of 35 for his comments against the singer$ 000 to pay

The Quebec Court of Appeals upheld the tribunal’s decision last November, finding that Ward’s comments on Gabriel’s disability undermined the young performer’s right to maintain his dignity

The court ruled that Ward’s remarks could not be justified even in a society where freedom of expression is valued

In a two-on-one ruling, the Quebec court said: “Comedians must nevertheless recognize that artistic freedom is not absolute and, like all citizens, they are responsible for the consequences of their actions if they exceed certain limits”

On Monday the commission for the person and the person for appeal released a statement against the appeal

“The commission admits that Jeremy Gabriel exposes himself to criticism and satire because of his notoriety,” says the press release. “But this must be done with respect for his fundamental rights”

– This is a developing story that will be updated with files from the Canadian press

Comedian Mike Ward speaks Wednesday, Jan. January 2019, in Montreal before the Quebec Court of Appeals with the media The court hears arguments over whether Ward, joking about the drowning of a disabled boy, Jeremy Gabriel, has to pay damages to him and his family THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz

Mike Ward

World News – CA – Quebec comedian Mike Ward heads to the Supreme Court after making a joker with disabilities