Canadian Human Rights Commission v Canadian Liberty Net et al., [1998] 1 SCR 626

Canadian Human Rights Commission - Appellant v. Canadian Liberty Net and Tony McAleer (alias Derek J. Peterson) - Respondents

The Canadian Human Rights Commission received several complaints regarding telephone messages made available by an organization advertising itself as “Canadian Liberty Net”. Callers to the Liberty Net phone number were offered a menu of telephone messages to choose from, by subject area, including racist messages. After investigating the content of the messages, the Commission requested that a human rights tribunal be empanelled to decide whether these messages constituted a discriminatory practice under s. 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Commission then applied to the Federal Court, Trial Division, for an injunction prohibiting Liberty Net and Tony McAleer from making any such phone messages available until the human rights tribunal rendered a final order. The injunction was granted. When a commission investigator later telephoned the Liberty Net number, he heard a message referring callers to a new number in the US which contained messages whose content was proscribed by the injunction. Liberty Net and Tony McAleer were found guilty of contempt of court for violating the injunction. The Federal Court of Appeal, in two separate judgments, affirmed the finding of contempt but set aside the interlocutory injunction on the ground that the Trial Division had no jurisdiction to issue it.

The appeal from the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal on jurisdiction should be allowed. The appeal from the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal with respect to the finding of contempt should be dismissed.