Quesnel man convicted for antisemitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham, a former Quesnel teacher convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people, has been punished for disobeying the rules he had to follow while on probation. 

Topham was sentenced in March of 2017 to a conditional sentence of six months for “wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group” for his writing on Radicalpress.com, a now-defunct website he owned. 

Although he was charged in 2012, Topham challenged the constitutional validity of Canada’s hate speech laws, delaying the sentence until five years later. 

While he was not sentenced to house-arrest restrictions, he was sentenced to follow curfew. After serving those six months, Topham was on probation for two years. One of the conditions of his probation was a ban on publishing anything about Jewish people. 

Topham was brought back before the court in February of this year, charged with breaching the terms of his probation, and he was convicted of that charge Oct. 18. 

On Nov. 20, he was given a one-month conditional sentence, with three years of probation. 

The one-month conditional sentence is stricter than the six months he first served, with Topham only allowed to leave his house with written permission from the court. 

The terms of his probation include a ban on posting any reference to the Jewish religion or Jewish people, including references to the Talmud (the Jewish law book) and Zionism. 

“This decision is a positive development in the fight against antiemitism and hate speech in Canada,” Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a news release. 

“We need accountability for inciting hatred in this country, and Topham can now serve as an example to remind people that there are real consequences for these sorts of actions against your fellow citizens.” 

During the 2017 sentencing, Justice Bruce Butler of the B.C. Supreme Court noted that Topham was being convicted “for the promotion of hatred, not for his opinions.” 

Topham published several old antiemitic articles on his website, alongside “generally complimentary commentary,” according to Butler’s 2017 sentencing.

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