New Brunswick

Neo-Nazi group loses bid to inherit $250K coin collection

A court decision to bar an American white supremacist organization from inheriting an estimated $250,000 coin and artifact collection from a New Brunswick man is being commended by a Canadian Jewish organization.

Jewish group commends N.B. court decision to void Robert McCorkill's bequeath to National Alliance

A court decision to bar an American white supremacist organization from inheriting an estimated $250,000 coin and artifact collection from a New Brunswick man is being commended by a Canadian Jewish organization.

Robert McCorkill had willed the items to the National Alliance, based in West Virginia, before he died in Saint John in 2004.

Robert McCorkill, who died in Saint John in 2004, bequeathed his estate to the National Alliance, a white supremacist group based in West Virginia. (Southern Law Poverty Center)
But a New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench judge ruled on Thursday in favour of McCorkill's estranged sister, Isabelle Rose McCorkill, who had challenged the will.

Judge William Grant described the written materials of the National Alliance as "racist, white supremacist and hate-inspired."

"They are disgusting, repugnant and revolting," he said.

Such "hate propaganda" is both illegal in Canada and contrary to public policy, said Grant, voiding the will.

“This was a strong statement indicating that it is against Canadian public policy to bequeath money to organizations that spread hate," the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

The group, which serves as the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada, had also been an intervener in the case.

The threat was that an injection of about a quarter million dollars might have breathed new life into this dying organization.- The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

"Today, we are fortunate that the National Alliance is a severely diminished group barely holding onto its shrinking membership. The threat was that an injection of about a quarter million dollars might have breathed new life into this dying organization," the statement said.

McCorkill's collection includes Greek and Roman coins that are thousands of years old, an ancient Iranian sword, and more, according to an appraiser's report from August 2010.

The University of Saskatchewan's Museum of Antiquities was lent a portion of his coin collection and put it on display for several years. Around 2000, McCorkill left Saskatoon and moved to Ottawa, taking his coin collection with him.

His sister, who lives in Ottawa, was not interested in the valuable collection, according to her Moncton-based lawyer, Marc-Antoine Chiasson. But when she learned it had been willed to the National Alliance, she felt compelled to step in, Chiasson had said.

She obtained a court injunction last July, which temporarily blocked any distribution of the estate or transfer of items out of New Brunswick. The case was heard in September and the judge had reserved decision.

'Bequest repugnant'

In his 44-page ruling, released on Thursday, Grant said that for him to find the bequeath valid, he would have had to ignore an "overwhelming body of evidence."

"The evidence before the court convinces me that in the case of the NA [National Alliance] the purpose for which it exists is to promote white supremacy through the dissemination of propaganda, which incites hatred of various identifiable groups which they deem to be non-white and therefore unworthy," the judge wrote.

"Those purposes and the means they advocate to achieve them are criminal in Canada and that is what makes this bequest repugnant."

The National Alliance stands for "anti-semitism, eugenics, discrimination, racism and white supremacy," said Grant.

"In my view, engaging in activity which is prohibited by Parliament through the enactment of the Criminal Code of Canada falls squarely within the rubric of public policy violation," he said.

"In addition, as the applicant has pointed out, the NA's various communications and activities contravene the values set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial human rights legislation, as well as the International Conventions, which Canada has signed, all of which promote equality and dignity of the person while prohibiting discrimination based on various grounds, including race and ethnic origin," he said.

While the bequest itself does not advocate violence, "it would unavoidably lead to violence because the NA, in its communications, both advocates violence and supports its use by others of like mind such as skinheads."

The League for Human Rights of  B'nai B'rith Canada and the government of New Brunswick had also intervened in the case.

The Canadian Association for Free Expression unsuccessfully argued the will should stand. Lawyer Andy Lodge submitted that quashing the will would "get this court to go where no court has gone before," evaluating beneficiaries.

Lodge warned it would open a "Pandora's box."

But the judge disagreed, saying that unlike most beneficiaries, the National Alliance has foundational documents that state its purposes and those purposes are contrary to public policy.