By John Mather
A former Ryerson student who is challenging the Canadian Human Rights Act is simply mirroring notorious white supremacist Ernst Zündel, renowned human rights lawyer Richard Warman says.
Alexan Kulbashian filed the challenge on behalf of white nationalist leader Melissa Guille.
The motion says that Section 13 of the Act, which allows a tribunal to fine people who disseminate hate on the Internet, violates the right to free speech.
Zündel offered a similar argument in the late 1990s, Warman said, adding the current motion is “spurious and has no legal or factual basis.”
Kulbashian, 25, came to The Eyeopener’s attention after the Anti-Racist Action — a militant anti-fascist group — claimed he is a Ryerson student.
In an open letter to the Ryerson Students’ Union and the two campus papers, the ARA said, “We suggest you investigate his activities at Ryerson and the possibility that he has been engaging in spreading hate on campus.”
This, Kulbashian said, couldn’t be further from the truth. He admitted to being a skinhead five years ago when “he was a lot younger and a lot more aggravated.”
Now the “free-speech activist” said he fights his battles on the political and legal fronts. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the ARA, using the alias George Elser, said the group had no proof Kulbashian was “holding a Neo-Nazi group on campus.”
After six months of mounting racial tension on campus, president Sheldon Levy said he was going to personally look into Kulbashian — whom records and registration confirms has not been a student since December.
In general, Levy has found the amount of publicity given to race issues on campus this year disheartening, saying it takes away from the tolerant groups who work together.
“When that level of working together is broken by individuals, whether it be on Facebook or whether it is the article in front of them in The Ryersonian, it sends a real negative chill around the whole community.”
In 2001 Kulbashian was charged with promoting hate through a website he hosted. He was also charged in 2002 for assault. Both charges have been dropped.
In March 2006, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) fined him $1,000 for hosting hate sites littered with racist jokes and propaganda.
His company AffordableSpace.com was fined $3,000 in the same decision.
The Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team, which Kulbashian lead in 2001, was fined the same amount. Kulbashian is appealing the case and will not comment on the specifics.
In his motion to declare Section 13 of the Act unconstitutional, Kulbashian is helping defend Guille, who founded the Canadian Hertiage Alliance, in another CHRC tribunal.
Warman is a complainant in the hearing and is accusing Guille of promoting the killing of Jewish people. Kulbashian is also listed as the president of the Armenian students society at Ryerson, but vice-president Sally Sahagian Isaac said she has not seen him on campus for seven months and he is no longer the president.