Douglas Christie

Leanne Jones – Interview with Doug – August 20, 1985

Please Forward the Death Threats

From an interview in August, 20/85

“Please forward the death threats,” were the first words heard in Doug Christie’s little office just as I entered it.

The office, a reconverted parking lot attendant’s booth sitting in the shadow of the large Victoria courthouse, seemed symbolic in itself.

Doug Christie, was on the telephone speaking to another Doug Christie, a lawyer living in Toronto. It was obvious what had happened.

“There is a principle involved,” were the last words caught before the receiver went down.

One foot in the door and interest was immediately aroused by the bits of telephone conversation, and the visual impression of a framed quotation hanging on the wall near the office entrance.

The quotation, from Thoreau’s Walden, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

Throughout history there have been others who stepped to a different tune for the cause of human rights. One of Canada’s most colourful characters fighting for his cause, was Louis Riel, and he died for it. Is it possible that Christie is as much a rebel? Christie, acting as the defense lawyer in the Zundel trial, chose to champion the freedom of speech cause in court, just as Clarence Darrow once did in the famous Scopes Monkey trial. Scopes, put on trial for his teaching of evolution, was as unpopular a view as those held by Zundel and Keegstra.

The question was and still is..should a person be put on trial for their honestly held but unpopular view?

Like Darrow, Christie has the charisma and daring needed to swim against a tide of controversy and criticism. No one ever said a defense lawyer had to be popular, but the observable fact can be made, that Christie, is enduring a conflict not too many would be willing to take the risk for.

For that reason alone, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear more about the drummer he heard?

If there is a warning for society, in these freedom of speech trials, perhaps it is to keep vigilance in protecting our rights or be prepared to accept the consequence, the ultimate loss of creativity, and or freedom itself.

In considering the subject of freedom, there is a large spectrum of thinking. If a small child is asked, “What is freedom,” the answer often received is, “To be happy,” this sounds simplistic but think of the considerations in that simplistic phrase. Some of the unhappy countries are countries where freedom of thought or view is oppressed.

Is it possible that Mr. Christie’s heroic stand may be overlooked until after society’s freedoms are trampled in the dust of social apathy and bureaucratic control?

Read the in-focus interview with Doug Christie, written in the style of a court transcript, question, answer, shortened to Q, A, then judge for yourself what Doug Christie is all about.

Leanne Jones,
Author and private Investigator

Interview Between Leanne Jones & Doug Christie

Q. Could you tell me a bit about your early life?

A. So, my early life eh, well I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 24th 1946. I lived there from that time until 1967. I went to United College from 1964 – 67, and got a bachelor of Arts with Political Science and Philosophy Majors, then I moved to Vancouver and took law from 1967 – 1970. Graduated May, 1970 University of British Columbia Law School.

When I lived in Vancouver, I lived in Charleswood which was West of Winnipeg and now it’s pretty well inside Winnipeg. It was a rural municipality when I lived there. My sister lives South of Brandon near Nesbitt on the Treesbank road.

Q. And who influenced you through your early life?

A. Mmm, well examples would probably be John Diefenbaker, my father, people in the neighbourhood I suppose.

Q. I read an article that said your father told you to be true to yourself, so I was wondering if your involvement in these recent trials was motivated by ego, money, just cause, destiny, champion of the underdog, etc.?

A. Well, I would certainly have a tough time finding a reason other than the belief that someone has to defend freedom of speech and there doesn’t seem to be many people today who are prepared to take the risks involved, especially when the people whose speech is being impeded or threatened are those with unpopular views but throughout history that’s always been true that the people most likely to be attacked for what they say are those with unpopular views.

Q. Doesn’t there seem to be a real testing or pushing against the new constitutional bill of human rights?

A. Well yes, ironically we introduce the bill of rights and then we begin prosecutions that are totally against the spirit of it. There may be legal argument in favour of these prosecutions, but I think they are totally wrong, totally immoral, totally contrary to the fundamental freedoms that we allege we have in our society. I think it’s a sign of sickness.

Q. So are they pushing it to the limit?

A. Well, there are always forces in society who want people to have the right to speak, especially when it criticizes certain powerful groups of people, interest groups and pressure groups, and the great test is to determine whether individual freedom will survive or will not. The usual clichés about you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre have absolutely nothing to do with opinions, but those are the usual stock answers when they say there must be limits on freedom. Well, the ones we have had in the past have been sufficient, defamation being available for a civil wrong and the power of stopping people from inciting violence has been traditionally available, but now they want to do more than that and those who want to restrict freedom of speech, and I say they meaning those who want to restrict freedom of speech to views they like, and if they happen to be powerful enough to bring about enough pressure on an Attorney General or some weak politician such as we have so many of, then they find that they can bring the whole weight of society down on the head of someone whose opinions they don’t like, and they can’t cover it in all the clichés in all the verbiage about limits on freedom, legitimate limits on freedom that they like, the basic thing is they just don’t want everyone to have the same rights they do.

Q. Didn’t the lawyers have a conference recently in Barbados and didn’t they draw up some recommendations to send to Crosbie?

A. Well, there’s three people on a committee that was finally adopted by the Canadian Bar Association, but you know not everybody has the money and the time to go to Barbados for a convention. I think it’s the usual clique that dominate most organizations and they have their axe to grind and they’re quite a wealthy group of people and I don’t agree with them. They want to make it easier to prosecute people.

Q. Yes, but wouldn’t they also like to change the law to be able to deal specifically with the means of distribution of hate literature? … and what I wonted to say was couldn’t that then to a tool to use in dealing with the literature that is hate literature about women and children, namely pornography? Isn’t it getting pretty sophisticated, the way in which hate literature of that nature is being distributed?

A. Well, it’s also getting pretty sophisticated in the way that people want to prohibit communication and that’s basically what it’s all about. I think communication is generally voluntary and so it should be and I don’t like the government standing over my shoulder telling me what I can say… telling me who I can communicate with, telling me who I can distribute literature to, judging quality of literature that is distributed. I know all the clichés that have been expressed about pornography for instance, and I’m not so sure that those who are setting down the definition are the most balanced individuals in the world. I’m not sure they have all the facts you know, and I’m not sure that I want to entrust them with judgement over what I can see or what other people can see.

Q. Well, what is it that constitutes hate literature?

A. There’s no clear definition. The one in the Criminal Code in 281.2 is not entirely clear. I mean there are no definitions that are not subject to definition if you know what I mean. It boils down to courts deciding what the definitions really are. Well, hate propaganda is anyone referred to in section 281, as advocating or promoting genocide, well let’s see here.

Q. What about willfully publishing false information likely to cause social and racial intolerance?

A. Well, I think that’s as weird and wonderful a charge as has ever been created. It could mean anything.

Q. Whether it is willful or not is the question, isn’t that it?

A. Suppose now that we have a jury that is willing to say that it was willful and known to be false, but what I think it boils down to is popularity. If you can categorize a person as having unpopular views then I think, put their views on trial and juries being what they are will decide, oh well, this is not a very nice person, I guess he should be convicted. I think that type of thinking is not unknown in society and it’s very dangerous because it becomes tyranny of majorities and I think it’s obvious that when charges are laid, and individual already becomes suspect. If you’re dealing with an act, it’s not a real problem because if the person has done the act and done the deed, well that’s something you can determine, but when you’re talking about an opinion known to be false, whose the judge of truth and falsity when it comes to opinion, when it comes to views about history?

Q. One thing I wanted to ask you about was in one of the articles I read that when you were staying at Mr. Zundel’s house, that you actually did begin to question your own views, I mean I know you do not embrace the views of Mr. Zundel but do you think you might have been a subject of mind control because you know one of the elements it to take a person out of their own orientation…?

A. … Nobody controls my mind but me.

Q. Then the next one was do you believe in destiny because thinking about the backlash, you may well become more popular in history by the very backlash that occurs through these things.

A. Well, I don’t really worry about either destiny or history. I concern myself with what I do today, whether it’s right or wrong, and I don’t think that if you do what’s right, you’re going to be regretting what you did at any time.

Q. What were some of your ideals as a young person in high school, thinking of the Keegstra thing? I know Dr. Botting, from Red Deer College, says well it’s alright to teach. I would call it heresy at a University level for the purpose of questioning, but at the high school level, isn’t that dangerous? Now thinking back to your time in high school, what do you think?

A. Well, I always questioned things in high school. I believed in the right to think and speak and act in a manner responsible within society, and I still think it should be an individual’s right in history to question things that are put forward as truth. I think that if the human mind is prevented from considering those matters then we may as well not have a mind.

Q. I would like to go back to some personal questions again. I wondered about your nationality?

A. My background, my family is from Scotland.

Q. What about your marital status?

A. I’m single.

Q. And your farm in Sooke sounds interesting. Do you get a chance to get there?

A. Every chance I can I’m out there.

Q. What kinds of animals do you have on your farm?

A. There’s goats, and ducks and geese and a couple of horses.

Q. And do you forget all your other stuff when you’re there?

A. Oh pretty well, I enjoy it.

Q. And your age?

A. Thirty-eight.

Q. And what kind of car do you drive? That’s a freaky question but it’s interesting to know.

A. I have a van, a 1984 van.

Q. What are some other interests in your life?

A. I like classical music, military music, and I like writing, reading. I write for various newspapers sometimes.

Q. What do you read? Who is your favourite author?

A. I don’t know that I have a favourite author.

Q. Do you read Stephen King?

A. I’m not even sure who he is, but I do a fair amount of reading in terms of politics.

Q. What is your religion?

A. I’m Roman Catholic.

Q. Have you traveled abroad?

A. No, not really. Through the United States a little bit. I haven’t traveled very much.

Q. What would your philosophy of work be?

A. That everybody should have work to do that they consider valuable. Each person should look to the social consequences of their work and in addition, I think that too many young people are out of work and there should be something done and it would be in a way like a form of labour service to their country. It could be in reforestation for example, search and rescue, firefighting, a lot of rehabilitation of streams, that sort of thing could be done through some kind of organized work that young people could do right now. I don’t think it’s fair that the level of unemployment that exists here should exist.

Q. Would you have gathered some of those ideas from your days as a store front lawyer?

A. Well, I don’t know what a store front lawyer is, but as a lawyer, … I’ve been a lawyer since 1970 – 71.

Q. And you have championed some cases that no one else wanted and with very little monetary return, haven’t you?

A. Yes, I imagine that’s true, but I think if you are doing what’s right you shouldn’t worry about money or what other people think.

Q. I can’t remember what you said when I asked… was Dr. Botting’s theory (that it’s okay at the University level to teach heresy for questioning purposes) but what about at the high school level which is what you will be talking about in the Keegstra trial?

A. There’s a contradiction in terms here. Teach heresy? Nobody teaches heresy.

Q. No, but Keegstra did, didn’t he?

A. What’s heresy?

Q. Isn’t it going against the doctrine of the day?

A. Going against the doctrine of the day. There, you have expressed a view I don’t agree with. Is there a doctrine of the day? I don’t think anyone has a right to dictate a doctrine of the day.

Q. What about the impressionable minds of high school students?

A. They’re much more impressed with television, with movies, newspapers they read. I don’t think high school students are stupid. I think they are capable of making up their own minds. I don’t agree that Mr. Keegstra indoctrinated anybody. I think he put forward other ideas. I think he also discussed the problem of truth and encouraged people to think for themselves. I think people that have put forward in the media the view that he indoctrinated people in some manner are sensational. It’s been a great opportunity to pillory one teacher; I mean Scopes questioned the doctrine of the day in promoting the theory of evolution. He actually taught the theory of evolution at a time when it was heresy as you call it. He was a high school teacher. Scopes was just as much a heretic as Keegstra is, and he was just as badly abused, I’m sure, in the media.

Q. Well are you going to use this in your…

A. Well, you know Scopes was convicted incidentally and won his case on appeal, but I hope that people will begin to realize the completely false and wrong attitude of prosecuting people for their opinions. If they don’t then I think we are in for serious trouble in terms of individual freedom in this country.

Q. Oh, I wondered also if you felt you had been misrepresented by the media?

A. No, well mostly in the radio, lately.

Q. Don’t you have a slander trial coming up?

A. Against Gary Bannerman yes. He said: “Christie has come to the aid of these perverted monsters so often he must be considered one himself.” Ah, it’s ridiculous, how does he know Keegstra or Zundel personally? He relies on information received through the sensational media, and if he is so stupid as to rely on those sources for his opinions then he is welcome to his opinions, but it strikes me that he has no right to condemn these people in that type of language.

Q. When people comment on the views of Keegstra and Zundel as being distasteful, how do you see it?

A. It seems to me that the views of Keegstra and Zundel have been largely misrepresented and I don’t think that their views should be considered as distasteful. They’re views, they’re not necessarily acceptable to everybody, nor must they be. Everyone and anyone is free to accept or reject anyone’s views they like. I don’t consider Mr. Keegstra or Mr. Zundel as impolite, unkind, or in any way uncivilized people. They put forward views that others can disagree with and they put them forward in a manner that is both respectful and courteous, and I see no reason to categorize them in the violent terms that have been expressed about them by most of the media.

Q. Have you or would you champion the cause for women and children who think certain kinds of porn is hate literature because, after all, it takes away their freedom?

A. Well, you see there are a lot of presumptions in those questions. First of all, I don’t know of any particular case in which the rights of women and children are involved at the moment so I’d have to deal with that question as it arose, and I’m not aware at the moment of whether porn is a subject that is currently one in which women and children are involved in litigation so when that question arises I’ll consider it, because it’s an abstract question that requires more specific knowledge before it can be answered.

Q. Since your voice is coming through this article because it will be done in the style of a court transcript, Q.,A.,Q.,A. …

A. Oh yeah…

Q. What would you like to have come through the article that hasn’t been mentioned?

A. I would just like to see more people wake up to the fact that if we don’t defend the rights of other people to speak, because they have been represented to be so bad, then we will have no rights to speak either before long, because it’s very easy to represent anyone through the media as being bad, and once that happens and unpopularity occurs, then we get involved in the process that is quite common in communist countries where before you destroy someone, you first consider them anti-social and put forward those views about them in the media, so that everyone realizes they must run for cover and detach themselves from such persons.

Q. Do you mean they dehumanize them?

A. They become social outcasts, the result is that in the end everyone is vulnerable, everyone is subject to fear of being ostracized, subject to fear of unpopularity and if that’s the kind of society in which we are going to live, not only will freedom suffer, but the creative genius of every citizen will be stifled to the point where society as a whole will lose both progress in the material and spiritual sense and any normal social communication and creativity will be destroyed.

Q. Do you feel we are being stifled more than other countries?

A. Certainly more than the United States. The United States, in spite of all its faults, has got an awful lot more freedom than Canada is currently likely to have. For example, in Canada they’re already banning the health food sale of amino acids, they’re trying to prevent people from brewing their own beer, they’re trying to prevent people from putting forward political views that can be characterized as unpopular, and they scare people into saying they shouldn’t be tolerated. The media has become a very close ally of government, in the suppression of freedom.

Q. What do you think, when they talk about deporting Mr. Zundel?

A. Well, I think the Minister of Justice was very courageous when he said that was ridiculous because first of all, he hasn’t had his appeal dealt with and if his appeal was lost, the question has to be asked, whether a thought crime is going to be a basis for deportation. There are a lot of people who are landed immigrants who have committed much more serious offences against property and against persons than Mr. Zundel who are not deported and I think that deportation could be justified even if he was convicted. That no one, or not more have stood up and opposed this whole process is unbelievable.

Q. Well, didn’t Doug Collins speak out?

A. Doug Collins did and so did every editorial writer in central Canada.

Q. The Canadian writers are feeling it now too.

A. And so they should, they should have realized, you know publishers are now going to be liable for the publications they publish as to their truth and if there’s falsity in them, nasty vindictive litigious persons will prosecute them. There are lots of these people around.

Q. Is this fellow in Toronto, who has your name, is he a lawyer?

A. Yeah, he got a bunch of mail for me and he hasn’t turned it over.

Q. Isn’t it odd that he hasn’t turned it over?

A. Oh well, I phoned and asked him to do so. He said he’s not turning it all over, he’s going to decide what to turn over because he wants to keep some, but I don’t agree, I don’t think that’s quite right.

Q. The other thing was, when is the Keegstra trial?

A. April 9, and before than on March 26th in Red Deer, in a Court of Queen’s Bench hearing on the legality of the banning of the book, “Hoax of the 20th Century” by Arthur Butz, and I’ll be dealing with that too. That book is not in my opinion immoral, it hasn’t a swear word in it, it doesn’t malign anybody, it doesn’t have pornographic pictures in it. It is a very scholarly analysis of evidence which is put forward to support the extermination thesis that 6,000,000 or any other number of persons were systematically killed by the Nazis, that question is addressed by the book, and the answer in the negative is the result of a great deal of analysis. Now whether a person likes that view or not, whether they agree or not, is really quite irrelevant. I think that it’s a disgrace to the Canadian government that some bureaucrat should be empowered to decide what I shall read or what you shall read, and have absolutely unlimited discretion and have to give no reasons, and anyone that wants to oppose that because an appellant in a court has the burden of truth to prove that the book should be admitted, I think the whole thing is ridiculous.

Q. Well, wouldn’t you have more support from the writers on that issue?

A. As I say, I hope the writers will wake up because all their rights are jeopardized. If they don’t realize that by now, I don’t understand them. If, after these three cases, the Zundel trial, the banning of the book and the Keegstra trial, if people everywhere do not realize the freedom is being threatened and is being destroyed, well then they don’t deserve to have freedom.

Q. Well, why is this all happening now?

A. I don’t think it’s by accident, I think it’s by design. Bureaucrats always like power.

Q. Isn’t that a neurotic statement?

A. What?

Q. To say that it is by design?

A. I don’t think it’s neurotic to think that things don’t happen by accident.

Q. What was that political book based on that?

A. I think you are talking about Gary Allen’s None, Dare, Call, It Conspiracy. There are lots of conspiracy theories but in my personal experience, the way government increases its control is by the lack of vigilance of its citizens and by the lack of concern of the citizens for their rights.

Farmers are losing their farms all over North America because banks have increased their control and are now withdrawing all credit and demanding assets in exchange for the money that they are owed.

Q. Do people get weaker as their basic needs are not being met?

A. No, I don’t think deprivation weakens people. I think affluence weakens people. Affluence and superfluence of material things creates a feeling of apathy, indifference, and complacency, and no one feels too badly today even though they may be unemployed, they are able to collect welfare, or unemployment insurance, so it’s okay, everything goes on and nobody thinks that anything is changed, like a certain judge said not long ago: the face of your country will be no different tomorrow the matter whether you convict or acquit, well the face, yes the face is not changed, like the mask that exists on any person who is hiding something. The face may not change, but inside this country is very different after the Zundel conviction. All the hypocrisy of liberalism touted by the so-called intelligencia has been viewed for what it is – pure sham.

Where are all the left wing intellectuals who so much decry their desires for their freedom? When someone on the right wing is attacked, they’re very silent.

Q. But how do you think the Jewish people feel?

A. How does anyone feel whose been through a war? You know lots more people died than went through the ‘Holocaust,’ but is the Holocaust just suffering for Jews? No, Jews are not the only people who suffered in history, they’re not the only people who suffered in the Second World War, but I have sympathy for everyone that suffered, not just for Jews.

Q. Have you been hurt personally by some of the comments made about you?

A. Well, I can’t say that I haven’t been hurt personally by some of the comments. For example, I have a letter from Manitoba, where a lawyer from Victoria was on the CBC talking about me, saying all sorts of nasty things that I don’t think he would dare say to my face, that he wouldn’t dare say if he knew I was able to find out about it, but he said it none the less.

Q. So, wouldn’t you say a person must really meet a person before forming an opinion?

A. I think that’s the only way we should ever form opinions, because at least you know first hand, you can judge for yourself and you can make up your own mind as to what Christie is all about and at least you’ve heard him. Now, 99.9 percent of the population have made up their minds about Christie, Zundel, Keegstra, and a lot of other things they haven’t taken the time to know first hand. Now, that’s the danger the mass media has, it’s the power they have to destroy an individual’s reputation and to destroy a whole person, and the public never seems to think it necessary to find out personally whether it’s true or false.

Q. Well, I must say I’m very pleased because you are just what I thought you were. I’m a very curious person and get instincts about people.

A. Well, I’m glad you took the time to find out for yourself.

Q. Well, thank you very much.


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