Can someone be charged with ‘advocating genocide’?

I think we all agree that the worst crime humans can commit is to try to, or succeed in, killing whole races.

They always say there is a first time for everything. Well, today was Quebec’s turn. A 62-year old man, who was first charged back in December with inciting hatred, has now has the offence of ‘advocating genocide’ to the trouble he finds himself in.

André Audet, 62, of Boucherville, a suburb of Montreal on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, not only threatened Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but also called for the ‘eradication of Muslims’.

What a wanker.

Monsieur Audet allegedly made a number of ‘disturbing’ online posts using a number of pseudonyms. The RCMP’s C-INSET (Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Quebec) laid the new charges after a lengthy investigation which continued after his arrest six months ago.

I find this interesting on a few fronts. First, kudos to the RCMP for continuing to unearth facts after they already had this moron dead to rights. This is a good result. Secondly, it demonstrates that the Mounties have the ability to discover and analyse these online posts: in some cases the ‘poster’ can erase them or encrypt them to avoid detection. I have no idea if this idiot tried either strategy.

The investigators identified approximately one hundred hate posts, threats and/or posts inciting violence in the targeted accounts.

Thirdly, and to my mind, most importantly, is the decision to go with ‘incitement to genocide’. This is very risky in my view. I would think it hard to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular set of messaging constitutes such advocacy. The Crown may be on shaky ground here. Hell, we have lost several terrorism cases and that must be easier to prove (see below for more on terrorism).

Don’t get me wrong: I certainly think that Canada has to take the threat of genocide seriously. We have been very lax in allowing Rwandan and even Liberian war criminals who were part of genocide-like campaigns to set up shop here. This has been a stain on our reputation as a country that believes in justice and the application of it. We must bring those who had a role to play to court.

But can one man in a suburb of Montreal truly be guilty of advocating genocide? What in God’s name did he post? We have no idea to the best of my knowledge and will not until the evidence is presented in court. I’d love to see what he wrote and why it qualifies as genocide incitement.

In addition, this crime is rarely pursued in Canada. As Global News reporter Stewart Bell wrote “Canada’s law against advocating or promoting genocide is seldom used. In 2010, an Ontario resident, Salman Hossain, 35, was charged with advocating genocide over his online posts about Jews. The former Mississauga resident fled Canada before the Ontario Provincial Police laid the charges and now lives in an apartment in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka.

So why not charge him with terrorism? Would calling for the ‘eradication of Muslims’ not qualify? Then again maybe that is not such a great idea. We seem to be in a state of flux here in this country where all kinds of things are being called terrorism, like hateful incel acts of violence. Maybe the charges laid are the right ones after all.

I will continue to follow this case as it proceeds through the legal system. If M. Audet did indeed call for the eradication of Muslims he needs to get something. We are living in a time of hate and a strong message needs to be sent that we will NOT tolerate this kind of behaviour.

Phil Gurski

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