SUSSEX, N.B. — A New Brunswick man was given a conditional discharge and eight months of probation Friday for threatening to assault an elementary school teacher who stopped the daily playing of the Canadian national anthem.
Bradley Howland was convicted in July of uttering threats against Erik Millett, the former principal of Belleisle Elementary School in southern New Brunswick east of Saint John.
Provincial court Judge Henrik Tonning said that Howland’s passion for the national anthem does not justify his conduct.
“This has nothing to do with whether the anthem should be played in the schools — that’s not my concern,” Tonning said Friday.
“If parents don’t like it, they can’t take justice into their own hands.”
Millett became the focal point of a national controversy after he decided in 2007 to limit the daily singing of “O Canada” to special events only.
Millett said he made the change because two families objected to their children participating in the anthem for religious reasons.
During the trial, Millett testified that he received numerous “harassing” phone messages and emails in late January, 18 months after he made his decision to scale back the playing of the anthem.
At one point, the trial heard that Howland entered Millett’s office and threatened to beat him “senseless” in a parking lot.
Millett testified he sat shaking for a few minutes after Howland left.
“This is a case where Mr. Howland’s brain became disengaged from his mouth,” Tonning said.
“(But) I’m of the opinion that Mr. Howland has learned that you can’t act like this.”
Prior to sentencing, Howland said he was sorry.
“I apologize to Mr. Millett for the words I spoke and that he felt threatened by those words, and I would ask for forgiveness,” Howland said in court.