Former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois cleared of contempt charges
Published Thursday, October 27, 2016 12:14PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 27, 2016 6:41PM EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of contempt charges.
Nadeau-Dubois was a key player in the red-square, tuition-fee protests of 2012, when the Quebec government planned to hike tuition fees.
The case involved comments he made in an interview with Radio-Canada when he said it was legitimate to picket classes and take the necessary means to enforce the strike vote.
The complainant, former Laval University student Jean-François Morasse, obtained an injunction to attend classes and argued that Nadeau-Dubois incited disobedience.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Nadeau-Dubois Thursday in a split decision, invalidating his previous conviction for contempt of court.
“Public figures in social movements have to have freedom of speech, and they have to have the right to criticize a court order if they disapprove with it,” said Nadeau-Dubois, reacting to the decision. “It’s not my victory. It’s not a victory for myself or for my ego, it’s a victory for freedom of speech, for all the people in Quebec and Canada that want to mobilize to have a more fair society.”
His lawyer pleaded that he exercised his freedom of expression and that he was not aware of Morasse’s injunction.
The court also ruled that the student leader did not explicitly urge students to block classes.
In November 2012, a Quebec Superior Court Justice Jacques Denis sentenced Nadeau-Dubois to 120 hours of community service, saying the student leader advocated anarchy.
That ruling was overturned in January 2015, when three judges overturned the initial ruling.
Morasse sought an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which was granted in October.
Dubois said he was personally relieved by the decision.
“This morning was probably the most stressful morning of my life, even more stressful than what I went through in 2012,” he said. “Contempt of court is a serious offense that it should be dealt with very cautiously.”