BPC Bulletin: The Supreme Court of Canada Rules on Ward v. Quebec

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


The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in Mike Ward’s favour in a case that pitted the comedian’s right to free expression over singer Jérémy Gabriel’s right to dignity as defined by Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In a 5–4 decision, Canada’s highest court ruled that Ward did not go too far when he made jokes about Gabriel’s physical appearance during a comedy tour between 2010 and 2013.

The court rendered its decision on October 29, 2021.


document.do (scc-csc.ca)


In the National Magazine, Dale Smith reports:

National | The harm done (nationalmagazine.ca)

Jaela Bernstien of CBC News reports:

Supreme Court rules in favour of Quebec comedian who mocked child singer - YouTube

Peter Zimonjic of CBC News reports:

Comedian who mocked disabled child singer did not breach limits of free speech: Supreme Court | CBC News

Isaac Olson of CBC News reports:

Despite Supreme Court loss, Jérémy Gabriel hopes his 10-year battle inspires others to fight | CBC News

In the National Post, Brian Platt reports:
Supreme court affirms free speech rights of Quebec comedian who mocked disabled boy | National Post

Olivia O’Malley of Global News reports:

Supreme Court rules comedian’s mockery of singer with disabilities was not discriminatory | Watch News Videos Online (globalnews.ca)

Jim Bronskill and Sidhartha Bannerjee of the Canadian Press report:

Comedian Mike Ward’s mockery of disabled Quebec singer not discriminatory: Supreme Court | Globalnews.ca

The Canadian Press reports:

Quebec comedian Mike Ward had 'no choice but to fight' human rights commission on joke about singer Jeremy Gabriel | CTV News

In Canadian Lawyer, Elizabeth Raymer reports:

Comedian's jokes about young disabled singer did not amount to discrimination: SCC | Canadian Lawyer (canadianlawyermag.com)

In iPolitics, Leslie MacKinnon reports:
Top court sides with comic who mocked disabled singer (ipolitics.ca)

In Le Devoir, Annabelle Caillou reports:
Mike Ward n’aura pas dépassé les bornes | Le Devoir

In the Montreal Gazette, Paul Cherry reports:

Supreme Court rules in favour of comedian Mike Ward in Jérémy Gabriel case | Montreal Gazette

In The Globe and Mail, Sean Fine reports:

Comedian Mike Ward’s mockery of disabled singer not discriminatory, Supreme Court rules - The Globe and Mail

The National Post excerpts the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada:
Why the Supreme Court ruled comedian Mike Ward is free to mock disabled teen: Excerpt | National Post


In The Globe and Mail, Peter Henein comments:
Opinion: Did you hear the one about the Supreme Court judges and the bad joke? - The Globe and Mail

In The Georgia Straight, Sarah Leamon comments:

Sarah Leamon: Do we really want courts determining what comedians can say in their routines? | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly

In The London Free Press, Robin Baranyai comments:

Baranyai: Discrimination ruling wrong answer to comic's 'repugnant' act | London Free Press (lfpress.com)

At CTV News, Robert Leckey and Pierre-Gabriel Jobin comment:

Opinion: Ward and Gabriel: What hope for the defence of dignity? | CTV News

In the Vancouver Sun, Peter McKnight comments:

Discrimination gets important definition from Canada’s Supreme Court | Vancouver Sun

In the Montreal Gazette, Martine St-Victor comments:

Martine St-Victor: The Mike Ward case and the court of public opinion | Montreal Gazette

In MarketScreener, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP presents an opinion:

Supreme Court clarifies the test applicable to discrimination claims under the Québec Charter (marketscreener.com)

In The Globe and Mail, Robyn Urback comments:

Opinion: In Mike Ward’s case, the SCC was one vote away from setting a disturbing new free speech precedent - The Globe and Mail

In the Toronto Sun, Jerry Agar comments:

AGAR: Thankfully, Canada isn't criminalizing offensive comedy – for now | Toronto Sun

In The Hamilton Spectator, Rosie DiManno comments:

Dave Chappelle and Mike Ward might not be my comedic taste, or yours, but no one’s forcing you to watch | TheSpec.com

In Le Devoir, Brian Myles editorializes:

Les leçons de l’arrêt Ward | Le Devoir

In the Montreal Gazette, Bill Brownstein comments:

Brownstein: Mike Ward 'saved comedy,' peers say after Supreme Court ruling | Montreal Gazette

Mike Ward comments in English on YouTube:

Supreme Court Verdict: My Reaction - YouTube

Mike Ward comments in French on YouTube:

Verdict de la Cour suprême : Ma réaction - YouTube


In the first episode of the web series Faut en parler, Guy Nantel talks with Mike Ward and journalist Marc-André Cyr about free expression:

Faut en parler | La liberté d'expression - YouTube

Thanks go to Charles Montpetit and Alvin Schrader who provided some articles.


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.