Lawyer who called Black Lives Matter a ‘leftist lie’ resigns from Alberta judicial vetting committee | CBC News

Lawyer who called Black Lives Matter a ‘leftist lie’ resigns from Alberta judicial vetting committee | CBC News

A lawyer appointed to a committee tasked with recommending new judges in Alberta has resigned after CBC inquired about his current comparability of a future COVID-19 vaccine to Auschwitz tattoos and posting of a video that known as Black Lives Matter a “leftist lie” managed by a Jewish philanthropist.

Leighton Gray, a lawyer in Chilly Lake, Alta., was appointed to the Provincial Court docket Nominating Committee in April. (Gray Wowk Spencer LLP)

A lawyer appointed to a committee tasked with recommending new judges in Alberta has resigned after CBC inquired about his current comparability of a future COVID-19 vaccine to Auschwitz tattoos and posting of a video that known as Black Lives Matter a “leftist lie” managed by a Jewish philanthropist.

Felony defence lawyer Leighton Gray’s quite a few on-line posts included opinions that authorized and anti-racism consultants stated ought to disqualify him from being on the Provincial Court docket Nominating Committee (PCNC).

“I don’t settle for this resignation resolution evenly. Mr. Gray is a profitable Indigenous lawyer with an exemplary report of service,” Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer stated in a press release Friday.

“I additionally don’t make judgments on Mr. Gray’s potential to hold out his skilled duties in practising regulation.”

CBC requested a number of authorized and anti-racist consultants to evaluate Gray’s social media posts and blogs, together with Tom Engel, who chairs the policing committee for the Edmonton-based Felony Trial Legal professionals’ Affiliation in Alberta.

“My total impression is that Mr. Gray is on the outer fringe of the suitable wing and simply has no place on a committee … that’s in command of screening,” Engel stated.

Bernie Farber, govt director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Community, stated he was “disturbed on the idea of simply pure humanity” when reviewing Gray’s commentaries and posts.

“Our expectation is that our authorities will undergo a course of to choose the folks which can be most honest, which can be most equitable,” Farber stated. “The views posted in Mr. Gray’s weblog, for my part, are excessive.”

Gray reposted this video and remark that falsely claims Black Lives Matter is ‘a leftist lie’ funded by George Soros, a Jewish philanthropist. (Leighton Gray/LinkedIn)

CBC Information reached out to Gray and his regulation agency a number of occasions in current weeks, however he didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Lawyer says he is libertarian

Gray has beforehand been criticized on-line for his views, and responded to defend his positions.

“I’ve nothing to do with the alt proper. I’m a libertarian, which suggests I could disagree with what you say, however would defend to the dying your proper to say it,” Gray responded on-line to 1 critique on LinkedIn within the final week. “I due to this fact disagree along with your criticism of me, however respect your proper to voice it.”

The justice minister declined an interview. In his assertion on Friday, Schweitzer stated Gray supplied his resignation voluntarily so to not distract from the committee’s work.

“Work on the Committee is much from a full-time job, and members will not be required to give up their proper to private views or commentary,” the minister’s assertion stated.

Schweitzer stated he was solely not too long ago alerted to posts Gray made after his appointment on April 29. Nonetheless, CBC recognized weblog posts written by Gray previous to his appointment and shared these with the minister’s workplace weeks in the past.

Engel stated the truth that Gray made such feedback previous to his appointment suggests Alberta officers both didn’t do enough background checks, or weren’t involved once they did.

“The entire course of for screening candidates for the judiciary, the provincial courtroom, has for my part been corrupted,” Engel stated. “That is an instance of it.”

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer defended his appointments to the Provincial Court docket Nominating Committee within the Legislature this week. (Rachel Ward/CBC)

Schweitzer appointed Gray to a three-year time period on the Provincial Court docket Nominating Committee as a part of an overhaul of the committee’s membership. The nominating committee is answerable for reviewing purposes from Albertans who want to turn into judges. Its members contact references and conduct interviews earlier than recommending candidates to an eligibility record, from which the justice minister selects new judges.

In a CBC investigation earlier this week, governance and judiciary consultants criticized Schweitzer’s appointments for together with a majority of political supporters and for not being accomplished by way of an open hiring course of.

Gray, a senior associate at Gray Wowk Spencer LLP in Chilly Lake, is the one prison defence lawyer on the PCNC.

A number of articles Gray not too long ago posted promoted false data and conspiracy theories primarily based on racism and anti-Semitism.

CBC took screenshots of dozens of Gray’s posts earlier than he took down his LinkedIn account final week.

For instance, Gray re-posted a declare that billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who’s a Holocaust survivor, conspired to financially manipulate judges on the European Court docket of Human Rights. Gray additionally posted a video that alleged Black Lives Matter “has been hijacked and funded by Soros for his personal evil agenda.”

Earlier this month, Gray reposted this Russia Right this moment article that falsely claims Soros is linked to European human rights judges. (Leighton Gray/LinkedIn)

Essential of pandemic response

Earlier than his appointment, Gray additionally wrote weblog posts on LegalMatters.com about coronavirus and private freedoms. In a single, he in contrast Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pandemic response to the actions of the Nazi Celebration earlier than the Second World Battle. 

He wrote about how Trudeau and provincial officers had mentioned whether or not to invoke the Emergencies Act, which might give sweeping powers to the federal authorities. Gray wrote that a part of the Emergencies Act “appears to be like an terrible lot like its Nazi cousin.”

In one other put up a few potential COVID-19 vaccine, Gray wrote, “The tech Messiah, Invoice Gates would have each single man, lady, and youngster vaccinated and digitally marked, like a tattoo at Auschwitz.”

Farber stated “evaluating the [pandemic] laws to Adolf Hitler’s laws in the course of the growth of racial legal guidelines that led to the deaths of tens of millions — by no means thoughts six million Jewish males, girls and youngsters — is just an outrage.”

Isaac Saney, an African Canadian historian at Dalhousie College who has reviewed Gray’s posts, calls them “racist” and “backward.”

Saney famous that a number of of Gray’s posts referenced the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, which launched protests for motion on systemic racism throughout North America. Gray disparaged Floyd as sexually promiscuous and disputed the frequency of anti-Black violence.

African Canadian historian Isaac Saney teaches at Dalhousie College and holds a regulation diploma. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

The posts “appear to be articulating a number of the most retrogressive white supremacist concepts that exist on the market,” Saney stated. “Any individual of that nature shouldn’t be appointing judges and must be faraway from having that form of essential place in society.”

Tasked to contemplate various judiciary

The justice ministry’s biography of Gray described the lawyer as having acted for greater than 200 Indigenous residential faculty claimants by way of various dispute decision and impartial evaluation course of hearings. Gray additionally sits as an adjudicator for the Regulation Society of Alberta and holds a Queen’s Counsel designation.

When Gray introduced his appointment to the PCNC on LinkedIn in April, he promised to ignore range when doing his work.

When Alberta appointed seven new judges earlier this yr, Gray critiqued their gender on LinkedIn. (Leighton Gray/LinkedIn)

“I shall contemplate it my mission to assist choose essentially the most certified candidates, no matter their race, gender, age, faith, sexual orientation or political affiliation,” Gray wrote on LinkedIn. “In brief, I pledge to haven’t any regard for identification politics of any variety. Girl Justice does put on a blindfold in spite of everything.”

A part of the PCNC’s mandate, developed by the previous NDP authorities, is to contemplate range when choosing judicial candidates.

Shortly earlier than Gray joined the committee, Alberta’s justice minister appointed seven new judges, 5 of whom have been girls.

“If Girl Justice is really blind,” Gray wrote on the time, “then why does she see gender?”

Questions on judgment

Evan McIntyre, a director with the Felony Trial Legal professionals’ Affiliation, stated his group believes the Alberta authorities ought to reassess the suitability of all new PCNC appointees, given Gray’s views.

“The query must be raised whether or not they have been conscious of those posts,” McIntyre stated.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Jonah Mozeson stated in an earlier e-mail that the ministry rejects the characterization that the blogs would trigger some to query Gray’s judgment. He additionally famous the federal authorities’s proposed use of the Emergencies Act was “broadly panned on the time.”

Bernie Farber is the the chief director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Community. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

“It might definitely be unlucky for the CBC to malign an achieved First Nations lawyer for advocating checks and balances on state energy,” Mozeson wrote.

Farber, who has studied hate and radicalization for many years, stated the frequency and thoroughness of Gray’s posts and blogs counsel the lawyer firmly holds these beliefs, which Farber characterised as racist, anti-Semitic and excessive.

Gray’s regulation agency web site particulars his issues with “identification politics,” “radical feminism” and “indiscriminate mass immigration,” amongst different points.

Minister defends appointments

After the CBC investigation, the NDP raised the PCNC appointments in Query Interval. MLA Ifran Sabir requested the justice minister about Gray’s beliefs.

“Does the premier share [Grey’s] sexist opinion that there are too many ladies being appointed as judges in Alberta?” Sabir stated. “And if not, will he condemn it proper now?”

Schweitzer didn’t condemn Gray’s opinion. “This line of questioning is totally disgusting,” the minister stated.

Schweitzer then identified, as CBC reported, {that a} former PCNC member appointed by the NDP had connections to that celebration. He stated his authorities had “refreshed” the committee by changing the members.

The next day, the NDP requested once more in regards to the PCNC.

Schweitzer once more defended the appointments and famous the committee included, “an Indigenous lawyer who’s a pacesetter in his group,” a reference to Gray.

Isaac Saney stated the truth that the minister defended Gray illustrates a bigger situation with the justice system in Alberta.

“This isn’t simply merely an issue with Mr. Gray. We won’t simply scale back it to 1 particular person,” Saney stated. “It is a systemic situation, and that requires very vital coverage and structural and systemic change.”

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