CALGARY – Outspoken political columnist Ezra Levant says he wants the Law Society of Alberta to allow him to resign without any blemishes or findings of inappropriate behaviour on his record.
Levant was scheduled to face a week-long disciplinary hearing in front of the Law Society beginning next week. But Levant says he will now be represented by his own lawyers at a resignation hearing instead.
The case centres on a March, 2014 column headlined, “Next stop, crazy town,” in which Levant criticized the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s handling of a case involving a Muslim man who claimed discrimination when he was fired from his job as an electrician in Edmonton. The column ran in the Calgary Sun and its sister Sun newspapers across the country.
The law society citations allege comments Levant made in the column were “inappropriate and unbecoming” for a lawyer and violate the Law Society of Alberta’s code of conduct.
Levant said in a telephone interview from Stockholm on Wednesday that he will not attend next week’s hearing but would like the case to go away once and for all.
“Twenty-six nuisance complaints have been filed against me over the past eight years, 26, and every one of them that has been considered has been dismissed. So that’s 24 out of the 26 and there are two more that are outstanding and they’re junk complaints,” said Levant, who no longer lives in Alberta and hasn’t practised law in 13 years.
“We are applying to have these thrown out and then I’m going to resign. You can’t actually resign from the law society without their permission, which is a little quirk in our law,” he added.
“I am not going to resign if there’s still a complaint pending.”
A law society official who initially reviewed the complaint dismissed the allegations stemming from the column, ruling that Levant wasn’t acting in his capacity as a lawyer at the time. He said Levant was acting as a journalist and it was his view there was no reasonable prospect that a hearing panel would find his conduct breached the code of conduct.
That position was overturned seven months later after the complainant, an Edmonton lawyer who worked for the Human Rights Commission, appealed.
“If they really want to prosecute me for that column OK, but they’re not going to win under our Constitution and if they did I would appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court,” Levant said.
“There’s no way in hell I will ever apologize for my political journalism. I would literally go to jail before I retracted a political opinion and I’m not saying that to be dramatic.”