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Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose

CHAPTER 31

Quebec's Burning Hate for God and Freedom Exposed and Defeated

JOHN: The year 1950 is usually remembered by Jehovah's witnesses as the date of the first international assembly in Yankee Stadium, New York city. But it was a big year in Canada too. It brought the first of a series of legal victories as shattering to Canada's opponents of true worship as had been the memorable decisions won by Jehovah's witnesses in the U. S. Supreme Court.

For some years the battle for freedom of worship had been raging throughout the French province of Quebec, a stronghold of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and the fighting was intense and bitter. I think we should consider these events before going into the account of the Yankee Stadium convention.

We'll go back to the year 1946. That year the Canadian Branch servant's annual report to the Society's president spoke of the need for a concerted effort to reach truth-hungering persons of good will:


In the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick there are large sections of territory untouched. Of the 11½ million people in this country 3½ million reside in these two provinces. It is of vital interest to note that among the 8 million inhabitants in the rest of Canada there are about 10,700 publishers reporting; whereas in these two provinces the total reporting is but 500. Montreal, with its more than a million population, contains the majority of these publishers, namely, about 300. The time has come when the gospel must be preached to those who sit in darkness in these provinces. The French-Canadians are an honest and sincere people and as they have their eyes opened to the truth they do greatly rejoice in singing the glad new song. Much opposition is raised up against our work in these places, but the company publishers and pioneers have implicit trust in Jehovah and go forward fearlessly and without desire to work elsewhere.

Pushed to the limit has been every attempted encroachment on freedom to worship, and the battle has continued with unabated fury in Catholic Quebec. Arrests, court actions, mob violence, are the standard. At the present time 800 charges are pending in Montreal and Verdun alone.... So serious has the fight become in these cities that over $100,000 in property bond is now lodged on behalf of the brethren in Montreal alone. This is in addition to more than $2,000 out in cash. There are many of the Lord's "other sheep" in these provinces, and therefore the work will continue to be even more vigorously advanced than heretofore. a


Almost before this report was off the press as part of the 1947 Yearbook the answer to the question, What shall we do? came at the Theocratic Assembly in Montreal, Quebec, November 2 and 3, 1946. Persecution had not disheartened the 1,400 Witnesses that assembled Saturday, November 2, or the 1,800 that overflowed the meeting place on Sunday, November 3. At the afternoon session on Sunday the Society's lawyer from Brooklyn Bethel

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headquarters, speaking through an interpreter for the benefit of the French-speaking brothers assembled, encouraged all present by pointing out that Quebec province's Freedom of Worship Act was just as strong in its guarantees of freedom as was the Constitution of the United States, and Jehovah's witnesses intended to push their fight for freedom.

A FIERY TRACT RELEASED

The Society's president then addressed the eager, attentive audience through the interpreter, opening with the stimulating question: "What shall we do?" Soon thereafter he held aloft a four-page leaflet in French and then proceeded to read the bulk of it from a manuscript copy in English. This "sizzling" tract was headed "Quebec's Burning Hate for God and Christ and Freedom Is the Shame of All Canada." The opening paragraph reads:


Before the hot denials and protests and false countercharges boom out from the priestly keepers of Quebec province and whip up an unreasonable frenzy, calmly and soberly and with clear mental faculties reason on the evidence presented in support of the above-headlined indictment. Words in lip service to God and Christ and freedom can be as cheap as the free wind it takes to utter them, but actions speak louder to reasoning minds. As God's Word says, "Let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed." (1 John 3:18, Catholic Douay Version Bible) Is your mind reasonable enough to let you listen to loud-speaking deeds that count for more than easy words? Are you willing and unafraid to allow the evidence to be weighed in the just balances of God's true Word, and see whether Quebec is found wanting in love for God and Christ and freedom? The few minutes so spent in reasoning will not make it too late for you to thereafter believe


top of first page of booklet
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the hot denials and protests and false countercharges booming out of religious Quebec, if you still wish to. But now, pause and consider: b


Then followed a series of questions like this, "Is it love for God that moves Quebec mobs to tear copies of God's Word, the Bible, to shreds and burn them in the flames?" and so on, pinpointing some of the outrageous acts of Quebec's hatred of free worship. Several instances of mob violence such as the following were then recounted:


In Lacine, September 15, 1945, mob action blazed fiercely against Jehovah's witnesses as they advertised the holding of a Bible lecture. Street assaults reached their height when the large Catholic mob laid siege to the shop and home of Joseph Letellier, who, with three other witnesses, was inside. The plate glass display window was shattered and rocks and tomatoes poured through the windows in a steady stream. Witness Joyce was struck full in the chest, and as Witness Letellier tried to phone police one vandal dashed in and smashed the elderly man in the face, inflicting a long gash on his face and knocking his glasses to the floor. The witnesses barricaded themselves in and endured the rain of rocks for more than five hours. Until midnight, two hours after other witnesses had helped the besieged ones escape under cover of darkness through a narrow 25-foot rear passage, irate mobsters bombarded the building. The entire front was wrecked, and the valuable clocks inside the shop were destroyed. c


Responsibility for such hateful conduct was laid squarely at the door of church-state rule and domination by Roman Catholic priests:


An officer arresting one of Jehovah's witnesses in Quebec City told the witness he was ordered to do it by Mr. Lavergne, the parish curate. A French Catholic lawyer defending one of Jehovah's witnesses was told by the city attorney, the court clerk and the deputy chief of police that the arrests were illegal, but that they were so hard pressed by the clergy that they had to make it as difficult as possible for the witnesses. Four witnesses arrested in Quebec City were told by representatives of the police department that delegations from the bishop's palace called daily and insisted that the witnesses were a menace to the Catholic Church and that it was the duty of police to get rid of them, law or no law. A deputy chief of police once admitted that he was never so annoyed by priests as when cases against Jehovah's witnesses were pending. And it is so often noticed that the officer emerges from the back door of the church or convent before making the arrest! Why, Catholic domination of Quebec courts is so complete that in the courtrooms the imagery of the crucifix takes the place of the British Coat of Arms, which appears in other courts throughout the Dominion! d


The tract closed with this stirring call:


Quebec, you have yielded yourself as an obedient servant of religious priests, and you have brought forth bumper crops of evil fruits. Now, why not study God's Word, the Bible, and yield yourself in obedience to its commands, and see how bounteous a crop of good fruits reflecting love for God and Christ and freedom you will bring forth? The eyes of Canada are upon you, Quebec. e

CAMPAIGN WITH "QUEBEC'S BURNING HATE"

As announced in the text of the leaflet, the tract was published in English, French and Ukrainian, and the Society's president revealed that 1,000,000 copies were printed in English, 500,000 in French and 75,000 in Ukrainian. Free distribution was scheduled to begin November 15, 1946. But that was not all. It was announced further that fifty pioneers would attend the next class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, would be taught French, and would return to preach in priest-infested Quebec and the Maritimes. Sixty more would attend the class that followed with the same end in view. f


In a lightning, 16-day campaign this leaflet in English, French and Ukrainian was distributed from coast to coast. The Hierarchy set up a howl of rage and counter-attacked; not with denial of the disgraceful account of her actions, but with her favorite weapons of slander, lies, violence and the pressure of Quebec's corrupt political machine upon the law-enforcement bodies. In 16 days 260 arrests were made in the Montreal area though not one arrest was made in any other part of Canada. On December 4, 1946, Maurice Duplessis,

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Fascist-minded premier of Quebec and tool of the 'Church', hurled a boomerang that devastated his own ranks when he deliberately ruined the prosperous business of one of Jehovah's witnesses whose only offense was that of supplying bail for his brethren. This abuse of political authority for such obvious "religious" persecution aroused the ire of freedom-loving Canadians throughout the entire country. It brought nation-wide publicity and many expressions were made championing the cause of Jehovah's witnesses and denouncing his actions. Protest meetings were held throughout the country by various organizations; resolutions passed and forwarded to the Duplessis government; newspaper writers branded Duplessis "a sawdust Caesar", a "minor-league Franco", as "the focal point of fascism", etc. One paper remarked, "The cause of Jehovah's witnesses has aroused the Canadian people more than anything else for a long time."

The opposers of truth in Quebec were showing by their bitterness that the title "Quebec's Burning Hate for God and Christ and Freedom" was an understatement. It became necessary in our fight for freedom of worship to make public her insane persecution of the Lord's children, that it might be a testimony against herself before all liberty-loving people. The second leaflet, "Quebec, You Have Failed Your People!" was distributed country-wide in three languages, and completed in frigid January weather. There were arrests daily (as many as thirty thrown into jail in one day) sometimes for no greater offense than boarding a streetcar. . . . During the four months, November to February, there were 843 arrests, bringing the total cases pending in the courts to more than 1,300. The majority of the arrests were on trumped-up charges of "peddling", etc. So enraged were the opposers that 64 brethren were charged with "sedition" and "seditious conspiracy". g

SOME METHODS OF OPPOSERS EXPOSED

This second folder itself comments further in revealing Duplessis' spiteful discrimination:


Early arrests made during the distribution of the folder were on the no-permit grounds, but newspapers stated that the report was current that Duplessis was going to have all Witnesses that were arrested during the last two weeks of November rearrested on the new charges of "conspiracy and distributing libelous and seditious literature". Two weeks after he launched the drive against the Witnesses, the admittedly intolerant Duplessis stated to the press: "The propaganda of the witnesses of Jehovah cannot be tolerated and there are more than 400 of them now before the courts in Montreal, Quebec, Three Rivers and other centers." Arrests ran as high as thirty a day, and by the end of November there were some 1,000 cases pending in the Quebec courts. Some Witnesses had as many as 43 cases stacked up against them. Exorbitant bail demands soared as high as $500 cash or $950 property bond.

Through all trials Jehovah's witnesses prove their unquenchable love for God by obedience to His commandments to preach, and in standing fast for freedom they make more secure the civil liberties of all men. Misrepresented, maligned, discriminated against, mobbed, hounded throughout the province, systematically hunted down and falsely arrested, and then held in vermin-infested, disease-ridden jails on exorbitant bail demands—still they maintain integrity toward God and are back in His service upon release. And it is a question as to which is the severer test: the filthy jails or the field work. Sometimes Catholic youths precede the Witnesses from door to door warning and prejudicing the people, or they follow after and gather up the folders and destroy them. Persons who would like to read are often fearful because of their neighbors. In less-educated sections where people are mere puppets of the priests, by the time three or four homes are worked the first householder is out screaming threats and rousing the neighborhood. Soon many are on their porches or in the street filling the air with abusive filth and cursings, while others are phoning the police. Often it is necessary for the Witnesses to work a half dozen homes, go to another section and work a few minutes, and then return to finish the original section. It would be a harrowing and unbearable ordeal if it were not for the sustaining strength and spirit of Jehovah God.

Rabid Catholic leaders co-operate closely with the police in rounding up these Christian ministers. In the notorious Quebec City the Sacred Heart Leagues printed a 9" x 12" sheet in French crying out for all Catholics to work with the police in running down all of Jehovah's witnesses. Made up in big, splashy advertising style, the bold black type had a message from the chief of police. It blustered that the "chase against every last one of Jehovah's witnesses is being pursued with more intensity than ever", and placed the Radio-Police at everyone's disposal "to free the streets of Jehovah's witnesses". Prominently set off by itself is the phone number of Radio-Police. It is one of the Hierarchy's modern versions of hunting down "heretics" for another inquisition. h

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PETITION FOR A BILL OF RIGHTS

Such methods, however, did not halt the preaching of the good news. Listen as we return to the report of the Canadian Branch servant:


This fierce, mad rush of the enemy did not shake or move the true ministers of the Most High. They stood their ground and endured hardness as good soldiers. Again the forces of righteousness were called in to support the fight, and on March 2 every company in the land put on or supported a special public lecture: "The Fight for Freedom of Worship in Quebec! Awake Canadians to the Facts!" The facts concerning our fight were there given. The eyes of the nation were on us. Practically every newspaper in the country was taking up the issue. People of good-will were having their eyes opened while religionists fumed at the tremendous favorable publicity we were receiving. Many of the newspapers in Quebec were "frothing at the mouth", but still the fight went on. The March 2 lecture inaugurated a nation-wide campaign inviting the people of Canada to petition the government for a Bill of Rights guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of worship. This was part of the fight. Civil rights in this country are enjoyed only by tolerance or sufferance. They are not guaranteed. A declaration of rights would make it possible to carry our fight for freedom of worship farther, and certainly for a longer period of time. The petition campaign was carried on through the month of March amidst severe below-zero weather. Over 500,000 signatures were obtained—the largest petition ever presented to the Canadian Parliament. i As a result of the nation-wide publicity of this petition and the thousands of letters to members of Parliament calling for a Bill of Rights, the government finally set up a committee to consider such a measure. Part of the difficulty has been the lack of suitable appeal to the higher courts. In Quebec there is no appeal from the decision of the municipal Recorder's courts. Efforts are being made to broaden the right of appeal to the Supreme Court. Thus the national issue of civil liberties raised by the faithful course of Jehovah's witnesses has caused thousands of freedom-loving Canadians to realize the inadequacy of the law.

Also we have utilized every known legal remedy to get the cases into the higher courts, and many practically unknown methods. Denied protection by one court, we have appealed further. Recourse has even been sought to the Supreme Court of Canada, but we were informed they did not have jurisdiction to hear our cases. Back again into the Recorder's courts our cases have landed. However, the zeal of the Lord's people is undiminished, and the fight starts all over again. Actions, appeals, writs, motions and special remedies have been employed in every case that came to trial. No cases have been abandoned until every avenue of defense was exhausted.

The intense hatred of some of the officials in Quebec broke out in open opposition in the shape of a special provincial law empowering local municipalities to prohibit distribution of literature. A penalty of three months or one hundred dollars cash could be imposed for distributing one handbill. It was thought that now they had Jehovah's witnesses in the bag, and they would swoop down like vultures on the apparently helpless brethren. But we were directed otherwise, and the enemy was out-maneuvered. The ministers in Quebec were instructed to go from house to house preaching the gospel by word of mouth, and using the Bible, where possible the Douay Version. Now the brethren are spending their full time preaching the gospel instead of languishing in Quebec's filthy jails. Under the Lord's direction we shall be victorious, for no power can successfully withstand the Almighty. Our fight for freedom to worship Jehovah in this country is by no means over. Indeed it is only beginning. j

SECOND PETITION FOR A BILL OF RIGHTS

True to the words of this report, the Canadian brothers continued their valiant battle in defense of true worship and two years later another petition was circulated. At the time of circulating the first petition the charge had been made that many persons would have refused to sign had they known it was in favor of Jehovah's witnesses. In this second campaign during September and October, 1948, the petition specifically called attention to the persecution of Jehovah's witnesses, the name "Jehovah's witnesses" appearing twice in its text. Furthermore, before being invited to sign, each householder was handed a copy of a leaflet entitled "Fight for Freedom!" setting out many facts concerning Jehovah's witnesses and illustrating the

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need for a Bill of Rights. Among a population of 9,000,000 persons in Canada, 1,490,000 copies of this leaflet were distributed.

What was the result of the campaign in numbers of signatures? Well, "on February 8, 1949, Mr. Alistair Stewart, member of Parliament for Winnipeg North . . . was able to point to an eleven-foot stack of petition sheets containing 625,510 names." k Public reaction throughout Canada was extremely favorable to Jehovah's witnesses for taking the initiative in this fight to benefit all Canadians.

Finally, in 1950, the case of one of Jehovah's witnesses who had been arrested for distributing the leaflet Quebec's Burning Hate came on to the Supreme Court of Canada. The atrocious criminal charge of publishing a seditious and defamatory libel had been laid against him and he had been convicted in the Quebec courts. Here is a brief account of his trial:


The case against one of these distributors, Aime Boucher, began at St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, in December, 1946, with a preliminary hearing. Next came the trial held in an atmosphere seething with hatred and suspicion, before French Catholic Judge Alfred Savard and a Catholic jury. The judge was most unfair and ruled with a high hand, interfering with the defense at every turn. Constantly he appealed to the jury's religious prejudices against Jehovah's witnesses to get a conviction. In fact, the judge's conduct was so completely unlawful it really assisted the defendant in getting the case reviewed by the Supreme Court. Confusion and bigotry, which darkened and hid the real issue during the trial, were pierced with some rays of light and sanity when Chief Justice Letourneau and Mr. Justice Galipeault of the appellate court in Quebec city condemned the trial judge. Through this dissent alone the case was transferred from Quebec city to the Supreme Court in Ottawa. 1

CLEARED OF SEDITIOUS LIBEL

Then followed an unprecedented sequence of events. The conflict was presented to five judges of the Canadian Supreme Court May 31 to June 3, 1949, m resulting in a split decision of three to two against Jehovah's witnesses December 5, 1949. n But when an application asking for reargument of the case before a full court of nine judges was made, a rare and unusual thing happened: the request was granted! When the decision was rendered on December 18, 1950, only two of the members of the Court who heard the case for the first time joined in favor of acquittal. The Court stood five to four for acquittal because one member of the original five-judge court, an Irish Roman Catholic, reversed himself and threw the weight of his vote on the scales of justice on the side of right and liberty for the despised minority known as Jehovah's witnesses. Here are a few gems from one of the opinions in this case of Boucher v. The King:


The incidents as described, are of peaceable Canadians who seem not to be lacking in meekness, but who, for distributing, apparently without permits, Bibles and tracts on Christian doctrine; for conducting religious services in private homes or on private lands in Christian fellowship; for holding public lecture meetings to teach religious truth as they believe it of the Christian religion; who, for this exercise of what has been taken for granted to be the unchallengeable rights of Canadians, have been assaulted and beaten and their Bibles and publications torn up and destroyed, by individuals and by mobs . . .

The conduct of the accused appears to have been unexceptionable; so far as disclosed, he is an exemplary citizen who is at least sympathetic to doctrines of the Christian religion which are, evidently, different from either the Protestant or the Roman Catholic versions: but the foundation in all is the same, Christ and his relation to God and humanity . . .

. . . but it is not challenged that, as they allege, whatever they did was done peaceably, and, as they saw it, in the way of bringing the light and peace of the Christian religion to the souls of men and women. To say that is to say that their acts were lawful. o


This ruling has been called one of the most outstanding decisions in Canadian

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legal history. It broke completely the moldy fetters that had been forged on the medieval doctrine of the "divine right of kings," the antiquated sedition law from the Court of Star Chamber dug out of Britain's catacombs of the Dark Ages by the attorney general and the judges of Quebec.

The battle of Quebec was far from over as a result of this memorable decision, however. Duplessis insisted on proceeding with the hundred other libel charges based on exactly the same document. p But what an advancement had been made by the valiant fighters for true worship in Quebec's hate-filled Roman Catholic stronghold! At the beginning of this campaign, only four years earlier, there were only eighteen company organizations, eight of which were French and ten English. These were caring for the needs of some three hundred brothers. Now look at the harvest of good fruitage produced by the four years of preaching in the face of such opposition: In 1950 there were thirty-six company organizations, twenty-one French and fifteen English, serving well over a thousand brothers! Assisting in this battle for freedom to worship God were 164 forefront fighters, eighty-three of which were general pioneers and eighty-one special pioneers. Of these specials, sixty-three were Gilead graduates. q No question about it: Jehovah's witnesses were gaining ground!

THE BATTLE AGAINST QUEBEC'S CENSORSHIP BYLAW

Then 1953 brought another victory, climaxing a twenty-year fight in Quebec city and the Province of Quebec. It was in October, 1933, that Quebec city passed a censorship bylaw specifically aimed at stopping Jehovah's witnesses from distributing Bibles and Bible literature. This bylaw provided:


It is forbidden to distribute in the streets of Quebec any book, pamphlet, booklet, circular, tract whatever without having previously obtained for so doing the written permission of the Chief of Police. r


Our Canadian brothers began an attack on this bylaw in 1947 by entering proceedings against the City of Quebec with a view to having the bylaw declared an illegal suppression of freedom of worship. The trial judge allowed the defense to call up Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergymen to testify as to their views of what religious organizations should believe and do. The trial lasted, all together, nearly two weeks. s When the trial court ruled against Jehovah's witnesses, the case was taken to the Quebec court of appeal, where, May 13, 1952, on a split decision, the majority held that the censorship bylaw was valid. Appeal was then taken to the Supreme Court of Canada, where the issue was argued for seven days starting December 9, 1952.

The basic question before the Supreme Court of Canada was the right to preach without a license. Prior to this history-making case, most Canadian legislators, lawyers and judges would have said that there were no written guarantees of freedom of religion in Canada. During the litigation a most unusual discovery was made. There was found an unused Freedom of Worship Act that was still in force. This Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1852, and just one hundred years later, in 1952, Jehovah's witnesses presented it in argument before the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time.

LOIS: How could they make a law and forget about it? Why had it been enacted, anyway?

JOHN: Well, long before its enactment in

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1852, there had been a tremendous religious controversy between the Catholics and the Protestants in England during the Seven Years' War. This Canadian act was a mere re-enactment of a much older law, the original Freedom of Worship Act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain in London after the Treaty of Paris (1763) for the purpose of implementing the treaty provisions, that French-speaking Catholics in Quebec would be protected against religious persecution similar to that experienced by Catholics in England during the Seven Years' War. In 1867, at the confederation of the first four Canadian provinces, this law was continued in force. Since then it appears that through lack of use it was forgotten. It hadn't been printed in the statute books of Ontario for forty years. In Quebec it had been reprinted but never used. This ancient law provides:


WHEREAS the recognition of legal equality among all Religious Denominations is an admitted principle of Colonial Legislation; . . . be it therefore declared . . . That the free exercise and enjoyment of Religious Profession and Worship, without discrimination or preference, so as the same be not made an excuse of acts of licentiousness, or a justification of practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the Province, is by the constitution and laws of this Province allowed to all Her Majesty's subjects within the same. t

VICTORY IN THE SAUMUR CASE

The Quebec attorneys argued in vain, claiming Jehovah's witnesses were not a religious denomination, that their preaching publicly in print could not be considered an exercise of worship protected by law, that their criticism of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy constituted "acts of licentiousness," that their refusal to abide by the censorship law was "inconsistent with the peace and safety of the Province" and finally claiming that the 1933 Quebec bylaw was passed not as a censorship measure but simply for traffic control. Point by point these arguments were rejected by a five-to-four majority of the Supreme Court justices and a decision favorable to Jehovah's witnesses was delivered on October 6, 1953. This was a real victory after a twenty-year fight and after a six-year legal battle in this test case!

The public press was loud in its praise of this decision. Here are a few of the editorials published:


A VERDICT FOR FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

In upholding the right of the Witnesses of Jehovah to distribute literature in the streets, without restriction, the Supreme Court of Canada has lifted a load from the conscience of this country. Liberal-minded citizens of all religious affiliations and both major language groups have long been uneasy about tendencies toward indirect persecution of opinion. In Quebec especially, this decision in the case of Mr. Laurier Saumur should result in the dismissal of some 800 similar cases involving charges under municipal bylaws. It means that no community anywhere in Canada can require advocates of religious views to be licensed. The ruling is one of several court decisions in recent years by which civil liberty has been clarified within the provinces or throughout the country. ... In a free country, the few must be allowed to try to change the opinions of the many, whatever the issue. Canadians can be proud that their courts are showing themselves vigilant against the intolerance that would whittle freedom away. u

FREEDOM OF BELIEF

The Supreme Court of Canada, in a majority judgment of considerable significance, has established an important principle underlying civil liberties in Canada. . . . the judgment asserted that no inferior jurisdiction, such as Province or municipality, may abridge the rights and liberties which constitutionally belong to every citizen of the country, regardless of residence. ... A very important point was made by Mr. Justice Kellock when he drew attention to the fact that the bylaw was so openly drawn that it might be applied in many different ways. He said that it established no rule except that nothing but what was permitted by the censor (as the police chief in effect was) could be distributed. The contents of the document were the deciding factor. The same bylaw could be applied against political

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parties and newspapers. It is apparent that to grant such broad powers to a single municipal official would be a gross infringement of elemental civil rights, whether or not the power was ever used. It could never have been intended by those who framed our constitution.v

FREEDOM OF RELIGION

An important principle, that a man must be allowed to practice his religious beliefs, is upheld in the supreme court's close ruling in another case involving the Witnesses of Jehovah. . . . And maintenance of that principle is one which must be applauded. ... To interfere with a man's worship is evil. The fact that the sufferer may adhere to beliefs not generally popular is beside the point.w


TOM: What did the Quebec officials do about that? Did they accept the decision of the Supreme Court as final?

JOHN: No, they didn't, especially Premier Duplessis. Here is the report of the Canadian Branch servant:


On October 6, 1953, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the censorship case involving the city and the province of Quebec was handed down. This was widely publicized by special distribution of thousands upon thousands of copies of the November 22, 1953, Awake! throughout the whole country, including reprints in the French language. This decision had the effect of setting back Quebec's Mr. Duplessis. Next followed the introduction of his notorious and unjust Bill 38 in the Quebec Provincial Legislature, flouting the Supreme Court's verdict and aimed directly and specifically against Jehovah's witnesses. The bill quickly passed the required readings in the Lower and Upper Houses and became provincial law. There was probably a feeling of satisfaction in the camp of our enemies, but it was short-lived, for by a swift move in the courts a case for an injunction against Duplessis and his bill was launched, and that is still pending. The desired effect has been obtained, for the bill at the present lies inactive and the Kingdom-publishing work goes on apace throughout his province.

The missionaries and special pioneers continue to work hard at the gospel-preaching, mainly in Quebec. Fifty-six missionaries at 19 places in Quebec Province reported at the close of this year and from their reports we can see that excellent service is being done by firmly establishing theocratic bridgeheads in that part of the field. From time to time mob violence and interference by local officials threaten to flare up, while threats and intimidation are brought to bear upon those who dare to show hospitality to the missionaries. Many honest-hearted ones, however, are standing firm for the truth. x


Far into 1959 the Bill No. 38 case was still before the courts of Quebec. y

THE TABLES ARE TURNED

So the atmosphere of bigotry-enshrouded Quebec was rapidly clearing. Bright patches of blue sky could be seen everywhere, and even in some of the territories that had been the most difficult, the sun was shining through. Listen to this experience written to the Society's president by the Canadian Branch servant:


We just heard an interesting experience which you will be glad to hear about, showing how the decision in the courts really helps our brothers. This happened in one of the Montreal units. This is a very stiff place where the priests are always on the lookout for Jehovah's witnesses. They were going from door to door Sunday morning. The priest gathered the young boys together to try and put the pressure on the witnesses to get them out of the territory. One of our brothers then informed the priest that we had the right to do this work and that he would call the police if interfered with anymore. So the priest said, "Well, go ahead, call the police." So the brother did. The police came on the scene. The priest then started trying to order the police to get the witnesses out of the district. The brother then informed the police that we had the right to do this and the courts have decided in our favour and they should not interfere with us at all. The police then informed the priest that Jehovah's witnesses were legal in doing their work. But the priest started to argue with the police and stated that 'they may be legal in the sight of the courts, but they are not in harmony with our arrangements'. The police then tried to reason with the priest, but all to no avail. Then the police got mad and said to the priest that if he would not be reasonable they would have to take him to the police station. However, this did not have any effect on the priest. He kept on arguing with the police. So the police said, "You had better get inside the car. You're coming to the station." z

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LOIS: I can't imagine conditions being any more completely reversed than that. But if Jehovah's witnesses had not insisted on doing God's will rather than man's, it never would have been accomplished, would it?

JOHN: No, nor was this by any means the extent of the victory Jehovah's witnesses won in Quebec. Their perseverance in the face of such tremendous odds not only brought them further assurances of continued freedom for their preaching activity but also vindicated them in their bold stand for pure worship.

You may recall one of the instances we quoted of retaliation by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy against the campaign with the leaflet Quebec's Burning Hate for God and Christ and Freedom. It was from the Canadian Branch servant's annual report to the Society's president and read: "On December 4, 1946, Maurice Duplessis, Fascist-minded premier of Quebec and tool of the 'Church', hurled a boomerang that devastated his own ranks when he deliberately ruined the prosperous business of one of Jehovah's witnesses whose only offense was that of supplying bail for his brethren." aa

This brother was a prominent restaurateur in Montreal who had posted bond in 391 cases. For this reason only, Duplessis acted against him and revoked his liquor license, which, in the French city of Montreal, was as much a blow to his business as if Duplessis had put a padlock on the door of his restaurant. The premier's unexpected boomerang mentioned by the Canadian Branch servant came in the flare of publicity that the incident raised throughout Canada. But the full force of Duplessis' intolerant act was yet to come back on him like a slap in his face.

Meantime another incident occurred that was to have equally long-range results in a resounding defeat for Duplessis' anti-God, anti-Christian forces. It began only three days after the Montreal brother's means of livelihood had been destroyed. Listen to this account of what took place:


Louise Lamb, a lady minister, was arrested at Verdun, Quebec, December 7, 1946, by Paul Benoit, provincial police officer. Benoit was under instructions to arrest Jehovah's witnesses who were distributing the document entitled "Quebec's Burning Hate." Sister Lamb had no copies of this document, but he arrested her anyhow in a most arbitrary manner.

The arrest took place on a Saturday and she was held over the weekend without charge, without being permitted to call her friends or counsel. She was photographed, fingerprinted and treated as a common criminal. Confinement in the police headquarters was under filthy conditions. A sick and terribly diseased prostitute was locked up in the same cell, using the same conveniences.

After suffering all this disgusting treatment, this decent young woman was then told by Benoit on Monday that he had "good news" for her: he would let her go. Just one little item: sign a release agreeing not to take any action against him for unlawfully holding her in prison for three days under these revolting conditions. If she would not sign, a criminal charge would be laid. Although alone, and under very trying circumstances, Sister Lamb maintained integrity to right principles and refused to be coerced into signing the release. Benoit laid a criminal charge against her, which the court promptly dismissed.

A civil action was instituted against Benoit for false arrest and malicious prosecution. The case proceeded to trial before the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec, and was appealed to the provincial Court of Appeal. Both courts dismissed her action on technical grounds. Appeal was then taken to the Supreme Court of Canada to lay before the nation's highest tribunal the abuses suffered by Jehovah's witnesses. bb


This case came on to the Supreme Court at the same time as the Montreal brother's personal damage suit against Duplessis. The attention of all Canada centered on the outcome. The Supreme Court itself was on trial. Two officials, one of the highest and one in much lower station, were both charged with maliciously misusing their

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official positions to the injury of private citizens. Could the Quebec police escape punishment for their false arrest? Would the most powerful political figure in Quebec Province, the unscrupulous and arrogant premier and attorney general, still be permitted to say in effect, 'I am the law'?

The situation was unparalleled in the history of Canada. And the Supreme Court brought the administration of Canadian justice into its finest light in its two memorable decisions on January 27, 1959. Newspaper headlines and news stories blazoned the victory of Jehovah's persistent witnesses across the nation: "Supreme Court Rules Against Duplessis," "Duplessis Loses to Sect," "Order Duplessis to Pay." Duplessis was ordered to pay to the bail-providing Montreal Witness $33,123 plus interest and court costs, which the Montreal Star appraised at between $20,000 and $30,000. cc So Duplessis must pay upward of $50,000 for his spiteful Catholic action. His Provincial police officer, Paul Benoit, was ordered to pay to the falsely arrested woman Witness $2,500 plus interest and costs to satisfy justice.

Radio and television added their voices in broadcasting Duplessis' defeat. These stunning victories were hailed by all liberty-loving Canadians who do not approve dictator Duplessis' strong-arm methods, and jubilation ran high in seeing him cut down to size. Newspaper writers and cartoonists spared him no shameful exposure in their frank and cutting appraisals of the public spanking he got from the Supreme Court.

The Telegram of Toronto said editorially:


The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada against Premier Duplessis is not so much a decision in favour of the Appellant . . . as a declaration championing the rights of individuals against the misuse of authority. . . . No man, however high and mighty, may inflict injustice upon an individual however low his station; no authority may misuse power to deprive a person of his rights. Authority before the law stands bareheaded and accountable for its actions. This is shining justice where the humblest man triumphs over power because his cause is right. dd


From the Toronto Daily Star we read:


Premier Duplessis of Quebec said in effect "I am the law." The Supreme Court of Canada ruled otherwise; it will not tolerate Mr. Duplessis or any other politician riding roughshod over Canadian citizens and their legal rights. ee


The Ottawa Citizen reviewed the successful battle Jehovah's witnesses have waged on behalf of freedom against the inroads of Duplessis:


To many Canadians, it will seem that justice has been done . . . Mr. Duplessis' laws for discouraging opinion of which he disapproves have taken quite a battering. In 1950 in the Boucher case the Supreme Court of Canada rejected Quebec's claim that a Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet was "seditious libel." In 1953 in the Saumur case it ruled that a Quebec City bylaw used to stop distribution of Jehovah's Witnesses publications contravened the Quebec Freedom of Worship Act. . . . [Duplessis] may be checked by defeats in court, but civil liberties will not be safe in Quebec while such actions characterize government. ff


Now these two further decisions cemented more firmly the strong bulwark of legal principle holding back the tide of oppression and destruction of minority rights by lawless officialdom. Jehovah's witnesses had fought a hard fight in Catholic Quebec, and the fight is not yet over. But by Jehovah's undeserved kindness the way of truth and pure worship was publicly opened to persons of good will, to the consternation and defeat of all Quebec's haters of God and Christ and freedom.



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