Stephen Sinclair is a Canadian freelance writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.
Canadian Charter versus Criminal Code
Does Canada have freedom of speech? The answer is a wishy-washy, "sort of."
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, freedom of speech is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau says that "false arrests" are something encountered in "other parts of the world."
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — now in its 35th year — established the freedom of the press as a fundamental freedom. Journalists start conversations, shine light on stories that would otherwise not be told, and give Canadians the facts they need to engage in public debate and shape events around them. A free and open press is crucial to an informed and engaged citizenry, which is at the heart of a healthy democracy."
"While journalistic freedom is widely recognized and respected in Canada, we cannot ignore the censorship, intimidation, false arrests and violence that many journalists face in other parts of the world. These acts give rise to fear and self-censorship, stifle societies, and undermine the right to freedom of expression. Canada will continue working to promote a vibrant and free press here and abroad."
"Today, we recognize the many journalists who seek out the truth, challenge assumptions and expose injustices, often at great personal risk. They are the cornerstones of any strong and healthy democracy, informing and challenging us all to think more critically about the world around us."
In contrast, journalism professor Lisa Taylor has found that criminal libel convictions — a law that does not exist in the United States, though U.S. President Donald Trump would like to see that change, as reported by CNBC — have more than doubled in recent years, as reported by the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre.
"An archaic Canadian law against criminal libel is being used with increasing frequency to shut down political dissent and criticism of police officers, judges and powerful institutions," Maija Kappler, with the centre, writes.
Kostman & Pyzer, a Toronto legal firm, states that almost every case involving criminal libel in Canada "has to do with an agent of the Crown, a police officer, a corrections officer, or a Crown attorney who has been defamed."
Member of Parliament Charlie Angus: 'Theft'
Financial Markets Depend Upon Truthful, Sometimes Negative Research
"Effective market manipulations require control of the sell side of the market and keeping the truth about the company from prospective investors," Richard Walker, former U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement director, testified before Congress, in 2000.
Analysts and investors in the United States are free to criticize investments, even going so far as to make sell recommendations, without fear of reprisals in the form of criminal charges. Those who go too far, and make false statements about an investment, company, or person, leave themselves open to being sued in civil court, but not criminal charges and certainly not jail time.
For example, over the past number of years, several analysts have publicly advised that investors should sell stock issued by Tesla, Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), as reported by Yahoo Finance.
"Is Fraud At The Top Of Tesla?" Zack Scheidt, with Daily Reckoning, wrote, in October 2017.
Note that Mr. Scheidt did not accuse Tesla of taking part in fraud. Instead, he asked a question.
Even if Mr. Scheidt did go so far as to accuse Tesla of fraud, without supporting evidence, no U.S. law enforcement agency would consider bringing criminal charges against him, in large part because there are no applicable laws.
Contrast Mr. Scheidt's remarks with those of U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.
"Let’s be clear, the business model of Wall Street is fraud. In my view, there is no better example than the recently-exposed illegal behavior at Wells Fargo," Sanders was quoted by Medium in the wake of revelations of that the bank was "scamming customers."
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders: 'Fraud'
Freedom Of Speech For Some Canadians, Criminal Charges For Others
Sanders would appear to be correct in his assertion about Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC). However, the senator's remark about all of Wall Street being a fraud is difficult to back up. Is it possible that Bernie Sanders libeled a broad swath of the U.S financial services industry with his statement?
Further, Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus has written about the NDP's plans to make "pension theft" illegal. It has been pointed out that, currently, the appropriation of pension funds most likely isn't "theft" if the NDP needs to introduce legislation to put a stop to it. At the heart of the NDP debate is troubled Sears Holdings Corporation (Nasdaq: SHLD).
When Canadian citizens are the seeming victims of impropriety on the part of U.S. corporations, Canadian police appear more than content with letting criminal libel slide.
To be clear, this author finds the efforts of both Bernie Sanders and Charlie Angus, with regard to these situations, admirable. Their past actions, and similar actions of others, inspired him to speak out about the suspicious death of Nadine Antoniazzi and associated seeming fraud, as previously featured with HubPages.
Unlike Senator Sanders and MP Angus, who accuse corporations of "fraud" and "theft," this author recognized the legal jeopardy such statements may have put him in. Instead, the author more accurately described the stock of Opawica Explorations, Inc. (TSXV: OPW) as "seemingly fraudulent," which, clearly, is a statement of opinion, not fact.
Despite the author's precise language, Ontario Provincial Police Detective Yvan Godin saw fit to bring both criminal harassment and criminal libel charges against him. Noteworthy is the fact that Godin is a police officer in the small mining community of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, where the late Ms. Antoniazzi's brother-in-law, Tony, serves as mayor. Tony's brother, Paul, is the chief executive officer with Opawica.
Consistent with the findings of Kostman & Pyzer, criminal libel charges were only brought forward when the subject of criticism was an apparent family member of an OPP officer, Sergeant Brent Turner, as reported with Soapboxie.
Opposite the situation involving Sears pensioners, where a U.S.-controlled company is seen apparently bilking Canadians, Opawica involves a Canadian-controlled company, where executives are connected to police officers, apparently bilking Canadians and, likely, investors from the United States and other countries, too.
It appears that Paul Antoniazzi is using his connections in the OPP to control the sell side of the market and keep "the truth about the company from prospective investors," as described by Richard Walker in his congressional testimony.
This situation raises a number of questions about the conduct of Godin and the OPP.
Is Paul Antoniazzi compensating police officers to bring criminal charges against those who criticize him and his business practices, thereby allowing him and distributors of his stock to control the sell side of the market?
Is it not the duty of the OPP to protect investors from 99-plus percent losses, such as observed in the shares of Opawica, by allowing access to a wide range of ideas and opinions?
Is it not the duty of the OPP to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee of free speech? Is it not the duty of the OPP to be able to competently distinguish between statements of opinion, such as "seemingly fraudulent," and those of fact, such as "fraud"?
No Charges When Politicians Libel Corporations?
Why haven't MP Charlie Angus and other members of the NDP been charged with criminal libel for their statements with regard to "pension theft"? Is it because they are prominent politicians? Is it because Mr. Angus is likely personal friends with members of the Kirkland Lake OPP? Is there some other reason?
Asked about this apparent double standard, Charlie Angus has remained silent, reinforcing the current patchwork of inequitably enforced Canadian laws that appears to guarantee freedom of speech for some Canadians, but certainly not all of them.
Demonstrating this, even though he never pleaded guilty to the criminal harassment and criminal libel charges surrounding his criticism of Paul Antoniazzi and Opawica Explorations, he has never received a fair trial. Instead, Crown Prosecutor James Rumleskie, in a rare move, stayed the charges, before the author could be acquitted, and shortly after his lawyer, Daniel Baker, began the start of a constitutional challenge, which may have had an impact on Mr. Rumleskie's career.
For those who aren't aware, criminal charges are generally only stayed when defendants plead guilty and enter plea bargains. When Canadians search "Stephen Sinclair North Bay" in Google, they are treated to news stories telling of the author's criminal charges being stayed, as with Bay Today, leaving the impression that he must be guilty and that, only through Mr. Rumleskie's grace, was he spared a conviction, or jail time, for what must have been a horrible, malicious act: standing up for an innocent dead woman and investors apparently bilked of their savings, while police officers not only seem to have looked the other way, but also appear to have potentially been involved.
Speaking of Canada's "antiquated libel laws," Dan Burnett wrote in The Lawyers Weekly, "For all the lofty quotes about free speech in Canadian jurisprudence, the reality is that our libel laws are the least protective of free speech in the English-speaking world."
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Stephen Sinclair