Your Ward News editor, publisher charged with promoting hatred against women and Jews, police say

The editor and publisher of Toronto-based newspaper "Your Ward News" have been charged with the wilful promotion of hatred against women and Jews, according to Toronto police.

Attorney general's office says charge of promoting hatred against women a first in Ontario

James Sears, 56, was arrested and charged with two counts of wilful promotion of hatred, one count against women, and one count against Jews, according to Toronto police on Nov. 15, 2017. (Your Ward News)

The editor and publisher of Toronto-based newspaper Your Ward News have been charged with the wilful promotion of hatred against women and Jews, according to Toronto police. 

Editor James Sears, 56, and publisher Leroy St. Germaine, 76, were arrested Wednesday morning. 

It's the first time in Ontario's history a charge has been laid alleging the wilful promotion of hatred against women, according to office of the attorney general.

Described by critics in the past as "racist" and a "hate rag," the newspaper, which publishes once a season, bills itself as the "world's largest anti-marxist publication."

Past issues have included images portraying Jews as dogs and glorifying Hitler, as well as liberal use of the n-word and other slurs.

In the most recent issue, Sears wrote in his letter from the editor that he planned to "commence the next phase of his Marxist parasite expulsion" by finding a clubhouse for his Hitler fan club and restarting "Toronto Real Men meetings, where I teach men seduction skills and masculinity."

In an email statement to CBC Toronto, Sears wrote that both he and St. Germaine "expect to easily beat these politically motivated charges." 

"Part of our defence will be a constitutional challenge against the hate speech law, as it violates our right to free expression," the statement reads. 

Police wrote in a release that they received "numerous complaints" about the publication beginning in 2015. 

Your Ward News writes that their publication has a circulation of 305,000, and has posted photos of right-wing and extremist groups around the world clutching copies of the paper. (Your Ward News)

In June 2016, a federal order prohibited Your Ward News from being sent in the mail — a move not taken since 1981, when a publishing company owned by Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was banned from using Canada Post.

A hearing into that order which began in April 2017 is still ongoing, according to Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice (STAMP,) who issued a celebratory press release on Wednesday after receiving news of the charges.

Lisa and Warren Kinsella, two founding members of STAMP who have campaigned against the publication, have also brought private prosecution against Sears and St. Germaine for uttering death threats aimed at them. 

That prosecution stems from the summer 2017 issue, in which Sears wrote about the "chance that some hothead who cares deeply about me… would lose it and do something illegal like bludgeon the Kinsella's to death." 

Though Sears has described his writing as "satirical," Lisa Kinsella said she saw a particular sentence in Your Ward News as a threat to incite violence against her and her husband. (CBC)

"In this country, in this time, hate will not go unopposed," Lisa Kinsella wrote in Wednesday's release.

News of the charges were also a relief to Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish community foundation.

"We're thrilled. We believe that this so-called newspaper should no longer be delivered. It's 2017. It's creating a lot of hate and divisiveness in our community," he told CBC Toronto.

Benlolo said he's received complaints in recent months that the newspaper was being targeted specifically to Jewish homes.

"Many holocaust survivors have said to us, we haven't seen this kind of thing since the early 1930's," he said. 

Both Sears and St. Germaine are set to appear in court on December 20.