Ezra Levant wins right to quit Law Society of Alberta and have complaints annulled

Right-wing media provocateur ’s wish to depart the with a clean record has been granted.

On Wednesday, the body agreed to allow Levant to exit, which annuls two complaints lodged against him through the society over a 2014 Sun Media column he wrote slamming the Alberta Human Rights Commission as a “supernova of crazy.”

Then-commission staff lawyer Arman Chak lodged the complaint that accused Levant of making inappropriate and unbecoming comments.

But Levant, founder of The Rebel website, claimed victory on Wednesday, saying his departure from the society will close off an avenue for “nuisance complaints” against him that have totalled 26 since 2004.

“The Law Society of Alberta (ALS) was becoming a magnet for every crank and shakedown,” Levant, a 16-year society member, told the Calgary hearing.

“I didn’t want to leave under a cloud because that’s being disbarred.”

He noted he hadn’t practised law for more than a decade, adding his often scathing political views should never have drawn complaints through the society.

“I was basically nuisanced out of the law society which is a shame because there shouldn’t be a political test,” he said.

And he said the decision should prove a relief for ALS staffers forced to investigate complaints against him.

“They had to read my columns — imagine that punishment … they’d have PTSD,” he said.

He also noted the ALS had dismissed all previous 24 complaints against him, saying the body has a “100 per cent free speech voting” record.

“The law society has said ‘this is not our business.’”

But at one point during the hearing, ALS director Sarah King-D’Souza objected to Levant’s side of an agreed statement of facts, calling their reference to complainants “inflammatory and self-serving” that could embarrass the society.

Also during the hearing, Levant refused to rescind the words of the 2014 column.

“The Alberta Human Rights Commission is crazy,” he said.

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During the hearing, ALS lawyer Norm Mashida said from 2013-15, there were 14 cases of members using the same avenue to resign from the body, despite them facing citations.

“The law society takes no position to either object or consent,” to Levant’s request, said Mashida.

After the hearing, ALS executive-director Don Thompson said the decision has no bearing on how the body views the contents of complaints against Levant.

And he said it won’t necessarily change how the ALS handles complaints against its members that fall outside the spectrum of legal work.

“If a lawyer murders someone, do you want no jurisdiction over that?” he said.

The ALS also opted not to saddle Levant with hearing costs, only concluding that if he chose to re-apply to the society, it would cost him $5,364.

Levant, who attended the hearing with two lawyers, said the constant battle against complaints to the ALS has cost in the realm of “six figures out of my own pocket,” but added those have been cushioned by crowdsourced donations.

When reached Wednesday, Chak, a member of the law society bench, said he couldn’t comment on the hearing’s outcome.

About Tom Babin, Postmedia News