Montreal

Comedian Mike Ward appeals Human Rights Tribunal decision

Mike Ward is appealing the Human Rights Tribunal decision that found he violated the rights of an individual in his stand-up routine and ordered him to pay $42,000 to Jérémy Gabriel and his mother.

In July, the Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ward to pay $42K for jokes targeting one individual

Many have touted comedian Mike Ward as a defender of free speech. Others have called him a bully. (Radio-Canada)

Comedian Mike Ward is appealing the Human Rights Tribunal decision which ordered him to pay $42,000 to a former child singer who he made the butt of jokes in his stand-up show.

The appeal was filed at the Quebec Court of Appeal Friday.

The tribunal ruled last month that Ward made discriminatory comments about Jérémy Gabriel's handicap during shows between 2010 and 2013. It ordered Ward to compensate both Gabriel and his mother.

Gabriel, who has Treacher Collins syndrome, became famous in Quebec after he was flown to Rome to sing for the Pope in 2006, when he was 10 years old.

He subsequently became the focus of a bit by Ward in his comedy show, Mike Ward's eXpose, going back to 2010. 

Ward's lawyer, Julius Grey, alleges the judge at the human rights tribunal made factual and legal errors in his ruling.

Grey said this case is about Ward's right to freedom of expression.

"I think it's one of the most important cases because it deals with that delicate balance between freedom of expression, which is essential in any democratic society, and the concept of equality," Grey told CBC News.

The tribunal has ordered Ward pay Gabriel $25,000 in moral damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. He was also ordered to pay Gabriel's mother $5,000 in moral damages and $2,000 in punitive damages. 

Ward is expected to appear at the Court of Appeal on Oct. 12.

with files from Shaun Malley

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