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Steve Mertl and John Ward.
Saskatoon, SK: Western Producer Prairie Books, l985.
143pp., paper, $10.95.
ISBN 0-88833-177-0. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Keegstra, Jim-Trials, litigation, etc.
Freedom of speech-Alberta.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by R. Wieler.

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

The trials of Ernst Zundel and James Keegstra in 1985 focused media and public attention on the issue of the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group in Canada, namely the Jewish people. Arguments in both trials centred on the distinction in the law regarding the right of free speech and expression and the protection of minorities from slanders and libels. In Keegstra, the authors Mertl and Ward, both Canadian press writers who covered the trial in Red Deer, provide a very readable, fair description of the court case, and give valuable insights into the nature of the community in which James Keegstra taught, Eckville, Alberta, and the roles of others involved in the event, students, teachers, lawyers, and media people.

The book gives a short character sketch of James Keegstra, who was an automotive shop and social studies teacher in the small junior-senior high school in Eckville, and who also served as mayor of the town for five years. Keegstra is described as a "caring, generous, Christian man" who was respected in the community and was popular with students and teachers. When Keegstra was dismissed from his teaching position in December, 1982, more than one-half of the students in the high school signed a petition to have him re-instated.

In an excellent, lengthy chapter entitled "Justice," the authors trace the court proceedings. The arguments and tactics of the lawyer for the Crown, Bruce Fraser, and defence counsel, Doug Christie are described, and the evidence provided by the twenty-three students and various others in the court drama is recounted. The book includes excerpts of essays written by Keegstra's students, excerpts that usually include mention of the major theme in Keegstra's classes, that a Jewish conspiracy had manipulated history for hundreds of years. It was the task of the crown counsel, Fraser, to show that Keegstra had deliberately distorted the usual versions of history to instill a hatred of Jewish people in his students. Keegstra is an interesting, short book that can be used at the high school level for topics in multiculturalism or in courses on law.

R. Wieler, Glenlawn C.l., Winnipeg, MB.
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