Longueuil teacher's Facebook post against Mike Ward goes viral

In a Facebook post shared over 53,000 times, Julie Boivin called on Mike Ward and all comedians to know the difference between "jokes in bad taste and freedom of speech."

Teacher's letter to Mike Ward, comedians shared nearly 54K times on Facebook

Ward became the subject of a complaint made to the Human Rights Tribunal in 2012 for making fun of Jérémy Gabriel in his comedy show, Mike Ward's eXpose. (Radio-Canada)

A Longueuil high school teacher didn't mince her words in a long and widely shared Facebook letter to controversial comic Mike Ward.

In a post titled "Letter from a teacher to Mike Ward and comedians," Julie Boivin addressed the wave of publicity that came after Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ward to pay $35,000 to Jérémy Gabriel for making jokes about him.

While many have criticized the ruling for setting a dangerous precedent when it comes to free speech, particularly in comedy, Boivin called out Ward as a bully.

"My opinion is that publicly making this kind of joke that targets an adolescent (and particularly a disabled adolescent) is to promote bullying." Boisevert wrote in her post, which has since been shared over 53,000 times.

"In Quebec, in 2016, we fight against intimidation in schools," she said.

"On one hand, socially, we all agree to take steps to prevent bullying, and on the other, we give free rein to a comedian who insults and is bent on ridiculing a young person who is already the victim of teasing at school?"

She called on Ward and other comedians to join teachers and the rest of society in moving away from such harmful behaviour, which "sometimes has tragic endings [and] even leads to suicide."

François Massicotte is at least one Quebec comedian who agrees with Boivin.

"For my part, as a father of four children, I agree with the judge's decision. The right to dignity must prevail," he wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week. 

'Freedom of speech is not at stake'

Boivin's social media takedown of Ward is in stark contrast to the support the comedian has received from the likes of Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon.

Rozon's comedy festival hosted a bilingual comedy show at Metropolis Saturday night "as a solidarity gesture" to raise money for Ward's appeal of the court ruling, Rozon told CBC News.

On top of the benefit show, Ward also launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him pay off his legal fees. He's managed to raise more than $35,000 of the $93,000 goal.

Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon said the support his festival has thrown behind Ward is a "gesture of solidarity" in a "fight for freedom of speech." (CBC)

"Where are the boundaries, what kind of country do we want to live in?" Rozon said in an interview with CBC News. "It's really a fight for freedom of speech."

Boivin took issue with the oft-repeated phrase in the Ward debate, saying "freedom of speech is not at stake."

Boivin called on comedians to make a difference and to remember that "you are also role models."

"This is a role and a social responsibility that you can not completely put aside."



With files from Sarah Leavitt and Radio-Canada