Mike Ward Did Not Discriminate Against Jérémy Gabriel, The Supreme Court Just Ruled

Case closed. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Quebec comedian Mike Ward did not discriminate against Jérémy Gabriel, a disabled singer and child star, when he mocked him in routine from 2010 to 2013.

The Human Rights Tribunal had ordered Ward to pay $35,000 for jokes about Gabriel's disability and physical appearance.

The Supreme Court judges representing the majority opinion wrote in their decision that "a reasonable person aware of the relevant circumstances would not view Mr. Ward's comments about Mr. Gabriel as inciting others to vilify him or to detest his humanity on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

"His comments, considered in their context, cannot be taken at face value. Although Mr. Ward said some nasty and disgraceful things about Mr. Gabriel's disability, his comments did not incite the audience to treat Mr. Gabriel as subhuman."

Gabriel, who was diagnosed with Treacher Collins syndrome, claimed that Ward's comedy act made him question his own self-worth.

The court, while agreeing that Ward's act was "repugnant," found that "expression of this kind does not, simply by being repugnant, incite others to detest or vilify the humanity of the person targeted."