Canada Post ordered to stop delivering controversial Your Ward News
Editor-in-chief James Sears says his newspaper is 'satirical'
The federal government has ordered Canada Post to stop delivering Your Ward News, a low-budget, free newspaper that has offended homeowners in Toronto's east end and beyond.
The newspaper, which is the brainchild of editor-in-chief James Sears, has been labelled anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi by several groups who have campaigned for years to get Canada Post to cease distributing it.
They got their wish Monday when the minister responsible for Canada Post, Judy Foote, issued what's known as a prohibitory order against the future delivery of the paper.
A group called Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice (STAMP) hailed the decision Monday in a news release.
"We are ecstatic about the minister's decision," said Lisa Kinsella, managing partner of The Daisy Group and one of the founding members of STAMP.
"For too long, Your Ward News has been permitted to disseminate racism, homophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism to as many as 300,000 homes in Toronto. Minister Foote's swift and decisive action means that this disgusting material will no longer be landing in the mailboxes of people who don't want it."
Sears, who has presented himself in the past as pick-up artist Dmitri The Lover and had his licence to practise medicine revoked after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting patients, has also been accused of publishing articles in Your Ward News that demean women and insult the LGBT community.
Sears told CBC News Monday evening he will fight the order, calling it a "temporary inconvenience" that only affects the paper's distribution to apartment buildings.
"We've done nothing illegal. There have been no criminal charges filed. It is an arbitrary decision," Sears said, denying Your Ward News publishes hate speech.
"We're just a satirical, offensive newspaper. It has been found multiple times by Canada Post lawyers that we're not breaking any hate-speech laws."
Sears accused Foote of issuing the order to silence criticism of the government.
"We're the top paper that's critical of the Liberal Party in all of Canada," he said.
'This is not about free speech'
Sears does have an avenue of appeal. He has 10 days after the date of the notice to ask for a review panel, which would be appointed by the minister. He formally requested the panel Monday evening but says he believes the issue will have to go before "a real judge."
"I expect [the review panel] to be a kangaroo court and once the kangaroo court reaffirms her illegal, unethical decision, then we can go in front of the real judge and have the real judge overturn it."
But Kinsella, who spoke to CBC News Monday evening, said Your Ward News is nothing more than hate speech.
"It is not satirical, it is hate promotion and there is nothing satirical about that at all ... This is not about free speech," she said.
"It is the most disgusting, vile thing I've seen published."