TORONTO, October 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Christian activist Bill Whatcott flew to Toronto from Alberta this week because there was a bench warrant for his arrest if he didn’t appear in court Tuesday.
Whatcott, 52, is charged with criminally inciting hatred against the “gay community.”
But after his matter moved from a first, second, and then third courtroom at the Ontario Court of Justice in College Park, it took fewer than 10 minutes to complete: the court simply set a date for yet another court appearance next month.
To make matters worse, a Toronto police officer sporting pink shoulder straps threatened to arrest Whatcott after he left the courthouse, on the grounds he was breaching bail conditions by being in the city’s “gay village.”
Whatcott doesn’t relish these tribulations, but knows why they come.
“It’s about Christ,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“The abortion debate, the sodomy debate, it’s all about: who is your God? Let’s not kid ourselves. This LGBT is a new religion, and its adherents in some cases worship their false god more zealously than we worship the living God.”
The Supreme Court in 2013 deemed two of Whatcott's pamphlets on the dangers of homosexuality “hate speech” in a decision upholding a ruling by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
That was a monumental blow to freedom of speech, but the top court was ruling on whether Whatcott had breached the province's human rights code – not that he committed a crime.
His new charge is significantly more serious.
Whatcott now stands accused under Canada’s Criminal Code of the indictable offence of willfully inciting hatred against an identifiable group — the “gay community” — which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
The charge dates back to 2016, when Whatcott applied under a pseudonym to march in Toronto’s Pride Parade as the “Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumers Association.”
He and several others disguised themselves as “gay zombies” in green bodysuits and facemasks to hand out some 3,000 pamphlets warning of the physical and spiritual dangers of homosexual acts.
The pamphlet blasted Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for alleged “homosexual activism,” as well as the sex-ed curriculum rolled out by Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and its connection to her one-time deputy minister of education Ben Levin, convicted in 2015 of three child pornography charges.
Hate crime charge political?
Whatcott’s lawyer Dr. Charles Lugosi has raised questions about the possible political nature of the charge, pointing out its timing is “suspicious.”
“If Bill Whatcott had committed a crime, why wait 22 months? They could have launched criminal proceedings immediately,” Lugosi told LifeSiteNews.
The charge was laid, he said, “after the civil suit went nowhere.”
That’s the $104 million class-action lawsuit LGBT activist lawyer Douglas Elliott launched against Whatcott and allies in August 2016, claiming his pamphlet defamed and caused pain to those who attended the parade, those who received the pamphlet, and a subclass of those publicly identified as Liberals.
A judge tossed the case out in March 2017, ruling that Elliott and plaintiffs could not claim defamation of entire groups.
(He also ruled Whatcott had to disclose the names of his fellow “zombies and financial backers to allow for individual claims of defamation. As a result, both Elliott and Whatcott are appealing the decision.)
Given these circumstances and absent evidence to the contrary, it’s reasonable to speculate the hate crime charge — which must be authorized by the attorney general — “could be politically motivated,” Lugosi contended.
“And if it’s politically motivated, that could be interpreted by a court down the road as an abuse of process.”
Fight over disclosure of information
For this reason, Lugosi says, it’s imperative to see what information Liberal attorney general Yasir Naqvi had on the case when his office green-lighted Whatcott’s hate crime charge in May.
Without that knowledge, “we can’t make a wise election” for Whatcott’s criminal trial.
“We don’t know what was before the attorney general,” added Lugosi. “We don’t know if [the charge] was politically motivated. We don’t know, but we want to find out.”
But the Crown has refused to disclose the information on the grounds it’s privileged, so Lugosi is taking the matter to the Superior Court, arguing Whatcott has a constitutional right to full disclosure.
His quest is at cross-purposes with the goal of the Crown and the criminal courts, which “want to go full speed ahead” on the hate crime charge, Lugosi told LifeSiteNews.
“They just don’t want it delayed because of the Charter.”
As his lawyer remains at an impasse with Crown lawyer Jennifer Epstein over how to proceed on his criminal charge, Whatcott, who has a wife and two children, estimates he’s spent at least $2,000 on airfare alone.
Whatcott’s costs soaring
That doesn’t include his June flight under escort of two police officers, after Toronto Police Service issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest and Whatcott turned himself in to the authorities in Calgary.
He spent a weekend in a Toronto jail before a friend paid the $1,000 bail deposit, then spent $500 on a plane ticket to get back to his job as an oilfield bus driver – except his employer had meanwhile found out he’d been arrested, and fired him.
The upshot of his 10 minutes in court Tuesday is that Lugosi, who practices law in B.C. but is also licensed in Ontario, will call the court November 27 for a pre-trial conference at which, Whatcott says, he or a lawyer representing him must be present.
That could be a fifth trip to Ontario for a five-minute court appearance for Whatcott, and yet another expense on top of skyrocketing legal bills – not only for his criminal charge, but the appeal of the civil case, and a human rights complaint he faces in British Columbia.
“I’m unemployed, and I’ve got a $250,000 legal debt,” he told LifeSiteNews. “I’m an activist. I haven’t figured out how to make money out of it.”
Nevertheless, he’s committed to the singular path he says God called him to.
“I think God used me in spite of myself, but that is what God is in the business of doing. He uses imperfect people to accomplish His will,” Whatcott told LifeSiteNews.
“And when I look at my life, and look at all that I lost, I don’t have a lot of regret. I’m pretty happy,” he added.
“I’m happy that I allowed God to use me in the way that He did. That’s been a great undeserved privilege of mine.”
Note: Whatcott's fundraising page to cover his legal fees can be found at his wife Jadranka Whatcott’s GoGetFunding page here.