BPC Bulletin: The Supreme Court of Canada Hears a Case About the Limits of Comedy

News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee.


The Supreme Court of Canada heard the dispute between Mike Ward, a stand-up comedian, and the Quebec human rights commission on February 15.

The dispute sets the freedom of artistic expression against the freedom from discrimination. In past years, Ward repeatedly mocked Jérémy Gabriel, a young singer who suffers from Treacher Collins syndrome, in his stand-up act.

The Quebec human rights commission represents Gabriel in the dispute.

The nine judges of Canada’s highest court heard arguments from both parties.


In the Montreal Gazette, Paul Cherry reports:

The Canadian Press reports:
'Oh, come on!' Comedian Mike Ward's lawyer provokes outburst from Supreme Court justices | CTV News

Mike Ward's case before Supreme Court tests limits of artistic freedom | CBC News

Lina Dib of La Presse Canadienne reports:

In Toronto, Jessica Murphy of BBC News reports:
How a joke ended up before Canada’s top court - BBC News


In The New York Times, Dan Bilefsky writes:

Quebec’s human rights commission comments in a press release:

Freedom of expression and discrimination: a fundamental question debated in the Supreme Court today (newswire.ca)


The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.