As It Happens

'This is a historic day,' says woman who fought paper convicted of peddling hate

Lisa Kinsella couldn't be happier that a copy of Your Ward News will never again show up in her mailbox.

Editor and publisher of Your Ward News found guilty of promoting hate against women and Jews

Lisa Kinsella is managing partner of The Daisy Group and one of the founding members of Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice. (CBC)

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Lisa Kinsella couldn't be happier that a copy of Your Ward News will never again show up in her mailbox.

The free Toronto mail-out newspaper's editor James Sears and publisher LeRoy St. Germaine were convicted Thursday of using their publication to promote hatred towards women and Jews. 

Kinsella, a Toronto consultant who has been fighting to shut down the paper ever since it first arrived on her doorstep three years ago, spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the verdict.

Here is part of their conversation.

What does this conviction mean for you?

So this is a historic day and I am so thankful for everyone from the police officers involved, to the folks at the Attorney General's Office, right up to the Crown prosecutor and the judge — they were all just fantastic throughout this whole process.

James Sears and LeRoy St. Germaine leave court after being found guilty of promoting hate. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

And who was receiving this this publication, Your Ward News?

The first time I became aware of it it was being delivered by Canada Post and it was focused on my neighbourhood in The Beaches of Toronto and it kind of expanded from there.

Now we've heard from people as far out as London, Ont., to Kingston, Ont.

And of course, it's online. So it has basically international distribution.

Can you — as best you can, without having to ... spread any more of this language — can you tell us what the thrust of this publication was?

In terms of what was happening with respect to women, there was a lot of what I've called rape advocacy.

And about three years ago I spoke to a couple of detectives from two different precincts. I think it was the first time that someone had spoken to them about the misogyny contained within the pages.

Everyone was very well aware of the anti-Semitism and the homophobia and the racism. But they really hadn't focused on the misogyny.

And I spent probably about an hour with these officers just pointing out page after page of these vile statements. 

After speaking out against Your Ward News, Lisa and Warren Kinsella say the paper published threats to 'bludgeon the Kinsellas to death." (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Why has it taken so long for it to be exposed as hate literature? 

What we decided to do was to kind of take all the steps we could as private citizens to get to the point where we are today.

So the first thing that we did is we put together a group called STAMP — Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice — and we worked to have Canada Post no longer be allowed to distribute this publication. 

We worked with postal workers and we worked with people who were receiving it in our neighbourhood. We were working with the minister who was responsible for Canada Post at the time, Judy Foote. She had issued an interim order, a prohibitory order, barring Canada Post from delivery.

And, of course, what happened was James Sears and LeRoy St. Germaine appealed the decision and the current minister issued, finally, a permanent prohibitory order just a couple of months ago.

And in that time period as well, they had published what my husband and I took to be a death threat against us within the pages of Your Ward News because I'd been speaking out about the misogyny.

And we went and saw a justice of the peace and they agreed that this warranted a charge and the Crown took our case over.

The judge in that case, finding these men not guilty of uttering threats against you and your husband, he said that you and your husband "are the opposite of dispassionate and unbiased" and that you "perceive everything in the worst possible light" and you contributed to the situation by your campaign against their publication.

How can we be dispassionate when the words in the publication were, and I quote, "Bludgeon the Kinsellas to death"?

We are passionate to work against people who are publishing homophobic, racist, misogynist content. It is vile what they publish.

So yes, we are passionate. I guess we're guilty on that count.

But fortunately, the judge today, as he said before he ruled, he read all of the publications and he said it was "unrelenting" hatred.

And I'm so happy that he was able to see through their arguments because defence counsel during this trial was trying to argue that, you know, they weren't against all women — just feminists. And they weren't against all Jews — just some Jews.

And fortunately the Crown and the judge were just smarter than that. 

Written by Sheena Goodyear and John McGill with files from CBC News. Interview produced by Kevin Robertson. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.