Law Society of Alberta accepts Ezra Levant's resignation despite 2 complaints still pending
Political commentator will resign with no blemishes on his record
Ezra Levant says he was "nuisanced" out of the Law Society of Alberta following dozens of complaints against him.
In a hearing today in Calgary, the society accepted the outspoken political commentator's resignation, despite two outstanding complaints relating to a 2014 column in the Calgary Sun.
Levant will resign with no blemishes on his record.
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"I was basically nuisanced out of the law society," Levant told reporters following the decision, "which is a shame, because there shouldn't be political test for being a lawyer."
Levant says he asked to resign a couple of years ago, since he hasn't practiced law in 13 years and moved from Alberta years ago to pursue other interests, including a stint at Sun TV and creation of the conservative website The Rebel.
In a statement to the society, Levant said he kept renewing his membership out of "habit and sentimentality."
"Trouble is, by remaining a member of the law society, even as a non-practising lawyer, I gave my political opponents free shots at me through the profession's complaints procedure," he said.
Twenty-six complaints have been filed against Levant since 2004, and all but two have been dismissed. He was scheduled to face a week-long disciplinary hearing in front of the law society over the last two — complaints about a March 2014 column he wrote, but requested it be turned into a resignation hearing instead.
The column, headlined "Next Stop, Crazy Town," criticized the Alberta Human Rights Commission's handling of a case involving a Muslim man who claimed discrimination when he was fired from his job as an electrician in Edmonton. The column ran in the Calgary Sun and its sister Sun newspapers across the country.
"I don't take back a word of that column, and neither does the Sun, by the way," Levant said.
Law society citations allege comments Levant made in the column were "inappropriate and unbecoming" for a lawyer and violated the Law Society of Alberta's code of conduct.
"I wasn't looking forward to wasting my time and my money, but if they really wanted to have a hearing on my freedom of speech to call human rights commissions crazy, then let's rumble," Levant said. "But why would they want to do that? That's what shocked me."
A law society official who initially reviewed the complaint dismissed the allegations stemming from the column, ruling that Levant wasn't acting in his capacity as a lawyer at the time. He said Levant was acting as a journalist and there was no reasonable prospect that a hearing panel would find his conduct breached the society's code of conduct.
That position was overturned when the complainant, an Edmonton lawyer who worked for the human rights commission, appealed the decision.
Waste of resources
Don Thompson, the executive director of the law society, said there was "no final determination" on the merits of the complaints.
"We no longer have any jurisdiction over Mr. Levant," Thompson said. "He is no longer a member of the law society, so we lose our jurisdiction and therefore there is nothing for us to do with the complaints."
He said the law society is obligated to regulate in "a manner that protects public interest."
"We believe that by making this decision we have done that."
Levant called the complaints against him a waste of time and money, both for himself and the law society. One complainant had submitted a 1,000-page complaint, he added.
"They (law society staff) had to read my columns, imagine that punishment," Levant joked.
Read Levant's full statement below.
With files from Canadian Press