TORONTO (JTA) — Doug Christie, the Canadian lawyer who defended a slew of Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and an accused Nazi war criminal has died.
Christie died in Victoria, British Columbia, on March 11 from liver cancer. He was 66.
While many mourn him as a staunch defender of free speech, Christie was a lightning rod for the Jewish community’s anger and suspicion. His client list included German Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel; Wolfgang Droege, head of the neo-Nazi Heritage Front; anti-Semitic teachers Paul Fromm, Malcolm Ross and James Keegstra; white supremacists Doug Collins, John Ross Taylor and Terry Tremain; and alleged Nazi war criminal Imre Finta.
Many believed Christie shared the views of the extremists and anti-Semites he represented, a perception that dogged him into death, the National Post reported.
“Even to this day, the jury remains out in my mind as to whether or not he was a fellow traveler with them or simply a defense counsel,” said Bernie Farber, the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who encountered Christie many times in court. “My gut tells me he was kind of a fellow traveler, but he was an ardent and passionate defender of their right to free speech.”
Farber recently wrote to Christie to wish him a full recovery.
In a letter to the Post, Farber elaborated: “I always believed that Doug Christie made common cause with his racist clients. The level of complicity to me was always a mystery. His courtroom attacks on Holocaust survivors were reprehensible. And from time to time his zealous defense of his client-bigots led him to utter statements that were in effect anti-Semitic.”