A pair of prominent Jewish real-estate developers in Winnipeg have launched a lawsuit aimed at using the civil courts to stop the distribution of anti-Semitic posters, after government officials declined to pursue hate-speech charges against the man behind the propaganda.
The posters, labelled with the title “$hitlers List,” first appeared on Winnipeg streets last year, and included many anti-Semitic tropes. They featured a list of allegedly influential Jews as part of a “cabal of cockroaches,” accompanied by references to swindlers, dishonesty, conspiracies and “dirty money.” Personally targeted by name on the posters, and later in allegedly defamatory emails to their clients, and also on a public website, brothers Sandy and Robert Shindleman brought the libel claim last week against Gordon Warren, a failed Winnipeg city council candidate who admitted in January to making the posters.
“The motivation is to stop this person, and people like this person, from doing these overtly racist, bigoted remarks against any group of people, and to hold them responsible for their actions when sometimes others won’t,” said Sandy Shindleman, president and CEO of Shindico, a real-estate company at which his brother Robert is also an executive.
Many people, including the government, are reluctant to stand up to bullies, Mr. Shindleman said.
“We’re not. We’ve never backed down from a bully, or let a bully succeed in bullying people that we know. We’ll stand up for ourselves, we’ll stand up for others, and we’ll be counted,” he said.
Their lawyer, Robert Tapper, said this is primarily a libel action, but will also allege that the Shindlemans are the victims of hate speech. If proven, the hate-speech claim will allow the court to issue an injunction that would prevent Mr. Warren from “making statements or comments concerning the [Shindlemans] in any manner whatsoever.”
“This is a defamation action, which is using the racism of this guy to demonstrate why he should be enjoined. This guy is motivated not by civic obligation, not by civic duty, not by some sense of civic justice. He’s motivated because he is a racist,” Mr. Tapper said.