Quebec tribunal orders comedian to pay C$42,000 over jokes

P.C. QC: The misnamed Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has fined comedian Mike Ward C$42,000 for joking about a disabled child singer. “The tribunal ordered Ward to pay Gabriel $25,000 in moral damages and $10,000 in punitive damages for a joke dating back to 2010. The decision also requires Ward to pay an additional $5,000 for moral damages and $2,000 for punitive damages to Jérémy’s mother, Sylvie Gabriel….The ruling has spurred backlash across the comedian community, with many quickly declaring their support for Ward.” [CBC] In 2010 standup comedian Guy Earle was charged in British Columbia with a human rights violation for insulting a patron at a club.


  • If the USA did not have a functioning First Amendment, an equivalent verdict here would be for $3 million. Canada’s approach is illiberal but more affordable.

    I followed the CBC link to a legal analysis that the court might protect speech that has political significance. Non-political “artistic freedom” is not given special deference, however.

  • I tried to find the joke on YouTube, but it’s in French so I don’t get it.

  • […] New, much-anticipated documentary Can We Take a Joke? When Outrage and Comedy Collide [on demand, Greg Lukianoff] More on the fining of comedian Mike Ward by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal [Guardian, earlier] […]