At the forefront of protecting Canadian civil liberties since 1981

Main Menu
* What is CAFE
* CHRC Cases
* Support Us
* Multimedia
* Human Wrongs
* Online Store
* Search Website
* Freedom Updates
* Press Releases
* Battles for Freedom
* Online Petitions
* Free Speech Monitor
* Subscribe to our E-list
* Join our Discussion Group

Canadian Association for Free Expression 

P.O. Box 332 

Station 'B' 

Etobicoke, Ontario 

M9W 5L3 


Office Phone:  905-897-7221

Office Fax: 905-277-3914

[email protected]

Attention Webmasters!

Link to our site with the above graphic



Battles for Freedom

Paul Fromm's Oliver Speech.

March 21, 1998

Hear Paul Fromm's speech in Real Audio

Thank you very much Doug. Those are the words of a man who has paid his dues in the battle for freedom of speech. The banner that we hold our meetings under, right across this country, may be one that's familiar to a lot of you who are perhaps of a somewhat older generation. (crowd identifies the Red Ensign and applauds) And this is the banner under which both my parents fought in the Second World War.

I've asked my folks, why my Mom devoted five years of her life to World War II, and my Dad four. And they've said: "Well, first of all, they thought they were signing up to fight for King and Country." But what does that mean exactly? Well, they said: "We'd heard there were these Nazis in Germany and they did things like burning books." And I thought - well, my God - what has changed? They may have beaten Hitler, but we still have book burners. We have a situation where you can't have a free speech meeting in a town. Where we have people who are so terrified of a new medium called the Internet, that they want to shut it down. They want to impose the same restrictions on that Internet that they've largely managed to impose on the print and the electronic media.

I know some people will say, "Oh why are you disturbing us in Oliver? Our peaceful little town . We didn't want you coming in here. We don't want to be disturbed!" Well, we found one of your citizens under attack. Bernard Klatt runs a business. He didn't ask to be disturbed either. An American import by way of Toronto, Sol Littman, a professional troublemaker, a notorious liar, holds a press conference, speaks a lot of nonsense, calls Oliver the "Hate Capital of Canada" and naturally your people are upset. We felt we would be able to offer you some explanations of what the Internet is. It's not some sort of monster. You know, you turn on your computer and suddenly kiddie-porn grabs you or there's a swastika that jumps out on your kitchen table. It's not like that at all. It's an opportunity to shop, at your convenience, for a wide variety of information - like a library - but better than a library. You never have to leave your home. And you can interact, you can talk to somebody across the Valley or around the world -- and that's what has the enemies of freedom scared blind.

How do these people [about 30 demonstrators protesting the press conference]over there KNOW that there are bigots here today, or Nazis? I don't blame them. I don't know who those people are - maybe they're sent by Mr. Communist, David Lethbridge up the Valley. Maybe they're just ordinary people who have read the papers and are concerned! Maybe they figure that Doug Collins (Sergeant Collins) will be here with three horns or something. Maybe they honestly believe this, and I would have to say, on the basis of what was in the media, I don't blame them for being worried. I don't blame them for being concerned.

I'd like to show you, how it is they may have had the impressions they did. The Oliver Chronicle would not carry an ad for this meeting. However, it did write up a story about the people who are speaking, and it wrote up a story about me too. The story about me happened to be, on almost every point, false. For instance, it mentioned that I had been fired for going to a white supremacist rally in Alabama. Well, I did not go to a white supremacist rally; I went to an immigration reform rally - and I was fired 11 months before I went to that rally. Now the Globe and Mail repeated exactly the same nonsense on Thursday. Where did they get it? You might say (if you were naive like me), or you might say, if you taught journalism, as I did -- they must have gone to the source, they must have interviewed Mr. Fromm. No Sir! No Ma'am! They did not! They got it from one of the professional hate-mongers, smear-mongers, who goes around saying, "Collins is Nazi, Fromm is this-and-that, Klatt is something else, and so on." So if you only knew what you read in your local fish-wrap, if you only knew what you read in the Groan & Wail, you truly would be misled and you might well think (like our friends over there) that there was some dangerous menace going to occur in town.

You know, your mayor mentioned that she was worried that there might be skinheads here. Now I'm looking around and I see only one person over here who is a skin-head, but I think that's because he's bald. There he is! There's the gentleman there. There's our token skinhead. We have a skin-head here, so I hope your mayor isn't too worried. He doesn't seem to be causing us much trouble. This gentleman's alright, he's behaved himself so far. So I think we're okay! Now, I don't know what your mayor based this on. We did communicate with her, we wanted to present her with the petition taken up over the Internet. And we've got almost 300 signatures on it from across Canada - across the United States - from a dozen countries from as far away as the Ukraine, South Africa, Brazil, Finland and so on. We got a wide response. Our petition was not just one of these things where you sign on a line with your name and address; we offered people an opportunity to express their thoughts. You know, some of the thoughts were pretty mundane but some of those thoughts were incredibly eloquent. People in other countries say: "Don't lose your freedom!" People in the Ukraine said: "We know what Communism is. Don't lose your freedom! We got ours back ; don't lose yours."

Now, that's what people are saying. I know it's easy to be afraid, and I don't blame people for being afraid and we bear no animosity to the people protesting today because I think many of them don't know what they are doing) and we wanted to follow the words of Lyndon Johnson, and that was: "Let's dialogue together, let's reason together."

You may have read some wild things about the Internet. Maybe it's not quite what you think. It's not the big danger. What it is is a great opportunity. And I'll tell you why. Because if you'd been on the Internet, you could have clicked in to our website. You could have said: "The Canadian Association for Free Expression ... some people are saying it's a front for this-and-that." Well, click in to it, check us out! You can do that. But you can't do that if you only get your news from the kept media like the Globe and Mail (which is, in many cases, unable to tell the truth) or the local paper, that is so biased it will not even carry our ad. So you're not in a position to know, but more and more, as people get on the Internet, they will be a position to know. And I think that is why many people are worried that people will be able to have a chance to check things out for themselves. And without going to a lot of effort.

Now another term that's being thrown around, and I think I saw it on one of those signs over there, is "bigot". I'd like to just turn it around ever so slightly, if I might, and call it "prejudice". We've heard a lot about prejudice. What do you call a person who says, she doesn't want this meeting to occur and hopes that nobody will come? I call that judging in advance. And I say it with all respect to your mayor, because I don't know the pressure she's been under -- but I can well imagine that the professional anti-racists have done a number on her. I don't blame her for being afraid, but I do call it prejudiced: condemning a meeting in advance and then cancelling it. I can understand if the meeting had gone on and bad things had happened, the mayor might have a reason. But I notice that they don't cancel the Regatta up in Kelowna when year after year, young punks ride through the town. I think this brings up the matter of prejudice even further. Your Attorney General in the province of British Columbia, Ujjal Dosanjh, said he's "worried about meetings like this. He says "because under the banner of free speech, in the past, some of these meetings have spread hate".

I say, "Mr. Attorney General, you lie! Because you have the power, under the law of Canada (under Section 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code) to prosecute. If there has been a meeting, under the banner of free speech, where hatred was promoted. Why didn't you charge them?" And I'll tell you why he didn't charge them: because it isn't true -- it hasn't happened. Yes, there are controversial views. Absolutely. Yes, a lot of us are saying: "Let it all hang out -- let freedom reign". LET PEOPLE TALK! Let people talk back and forth - let people say "You're nuts, your views are crazy" -- but let these views be heard. Mr. Dosanjh, if there was hate, why didn't you prosecute?

But I can well imagine, the fear that must have caused in your town and with the mayor -- it's very upsetting. And it's a real challenge to defend freedom of speech. If I might conclude, on the matter of law enforcement: when I heard that the police had advised the mayor that there might be a disruption and there might be violence, I thought:"Well, yes, and so what's next?" You know there probably will be disruptions and violence at the next Regatta up in Kelowna. Do they shut that down: say, "No way?" No. The police do the duty that you pay their big salaries to do. If there's going to be violence or disruption, or people are going to break the law, they intervene, they try to keep the rowdies under control. That is all that would ever have to have been done here. I want to know, if the police are passing on accurate intelligence information - that they had information that people were going to try to do something disruptive or unlawful, why are those individuals not charged? That is the proper duty of the police. I know it's easy to jusy say "close down the meeting" Then, the problem will go away and we can go back to really constructive things, like writing parking tickets and writing speeding tickets, and harassing the motoring public. Because that's far easier to do that than to do your duty but that's what we pay the police force for.

And we've seen this pattern in a number of other cities across Canada. Free speech is very, very, very much in peril. I would like to think that the ideals that my parents fought for in the Second World War, when they fought for Canada when it was a Great Country, when we could sing that anthem of real Canadian pride, The Maple Leaf Forever! I would like to think that if we work together, we may be able to recapture that spirit of freedom -- that spirit of real liberty -- and I would like to hope that we could all let the words that ring throughout Northern Ireland, ring throughout Canada. NO SURRENDER!


Get involved now and contact CAFE:  [email protected]