REGINA — A hate charge has been stayed against a former University of Saskatchewan math lecturer because the case took too long to get to trial.
Terrence Tremaine was charged in 2008 with wilfully promoting hatred for postings he allegedly made on the Internet that referred to Jews as a “parasitic race” and black culture as “fundamentally depraved and disgusting.”
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Fred Kovach stayed the charge Thursday noting that about 50 months had passed between the time the charge was laid and last March, when an application to stay the charge was made. The application argued that Tremaine’s charter right to be tried within a reasonable time had been violated.
“The delay in this case is inordinate, unreasonable and attributable to a combination of factors including institutional delay, actions and/or inactions of the Crown and, to a much lesser extent, actions of the accused,” said Kovach.
“It would be inappropriate to now attribute fault or assign responsibility for prior delay to any specific individual.”
Kovach noted a trial date had yet to be set and could have been months away.
He also noted that the maximum punishment if convicted is two years in prison — twice the amount of time Tremaine has waited for the case to work its way through the courts.
“The accused has been subject to stringent bail conditions throughout that period,” he said.
Tremaine lost his job at the university in 2005 when the allegations came to light. Court heard his career as a computer programmer was ruined because one of the conditions restricted his Internet use.
Tremaine did not comment as he left court Thursday.
The Crown had argued that the case was complex and there were requirements that needed time to be dealt with.
Prosecutor Mitchell Miller said the Crown needs time to review the decision before deciding whether to appeal.
“Obviously the Crown takes these charges very seriously. Of course we do,” Miller told reporters outside court.
“There’s reasons why the judge found that the delay was undue and again, what I’d like to do is get a copy of the transcript, take a look at that and then have some time to go over that.”
An organization that tries to improve the quality of Jewish life in Canada was disappointed with Thursday’s ruling.
“I think it’s fair to say that we would have preferred to see this trial take place in a timely fashion,” said Len Rudner with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which includes the group that used to be known as the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“But you know we’re confident, as we always are, that the Crown will investigate all of its options in terms of moving forward.
“We believe all Canadians can agree that the comments attributed to Mr. Tremaine are reprehensible and wildly inconsistent with our core values. Canadian society steadfastly rejects any form of racism, discrimination or anti-Semitism.”