A prominent Winnipeg businessman and his brother are doing what Manitoba's Justice Department hasn't -- going to court to stop a man from spreading posters some viewed as anti-Semitic.
Shindico president Sandy Shindleman and his brother Robert filed a claim for defamation against Gordon Warren on Monday in Court of Queen's Bench in Winnipeg.
Warren, a former city council candidate, has recently publicly admitted he was behind a number of pamphlets posted last September downtown. He has posted similar material on the Internet.
"When things get out of hand with the bloggers and get hurtful to peoples' lives and companies, people have to stand up to these kinds of bullies," Sandy Shindleman said Tuesday. "If it has to be us, then it will be us.
"Nobody else has taken this course of action, and we have to stop this kind of bullying."
The Shindlemans' claim seeks a March 26 court hearing for an interim injunction pending the outcome of the case, stopping Warren from publishing or communicating in any format, including the Internet, any information about the Shindlemans and Shindico Realty, one of the city's largest real estate and development companies.
The Shindlemans' lawyer, Robert Tapper, said the Shindlemans fear Warren will use the defamation claim against him to further attack them and their company.
"My goal is to get an injunction to prevent him from doing that," he said.
Tapper said the focus of the Shindlemans' claim is a series of recent incidents in which Warren allegedly defamed the Shindlemans and their company.
None of the allegations against Warren has been proven in court. Warren was unavailable for comment.
The first alleged incident was last September, when a number of pamphlets were posted downtown.
The posters alleged criminal wrongdoing by Mayor Sam Katz and several local business people, including Sandy Shindleman. All but one of those named are Jewish.
Police investigated the September posters, but the Crown attorney's office decided they did not meet the criteria for a hate crime under Canada's Criminal Code.
At the time, the decision not to lay charges was criticized as an example of the failure of the law.
The Shindlemans' claim alleges Warren's actions have escalated to the point where he has now singled them out and in the process has revealed himself as an "avowed anti-Semite and racist."
"The plaintiffs say that the untrue and defamatory statements of the defendant were made deliberately, with malicious intent, and were motivated by racism and anti-Semitism," the claim says.
"The plaintiffs state further that the allegations of the defendant, being as racist as they are, have no place in a free and democratic society and are not properly the exercise of freedom of expression, given their racist quality, and constitute hate speech."
The claim says Warren sent an email Feb. 8 to CORFAC International, a collection of privately held real estate firms in 65 countries. It is based in Falls Church, Va.
Shindico Inc. became affiliated with CORFAC early in the new year. In the email, which is included in the claim, Warren refers to three city-owned properties traded to Shindico in return for property on Taylor Avenue, where the city has built a new fire station. The transaction is now the subject of a civic audit.
The claim says a Feb. 20 "press release" issued by Warren also refers to the fire hall transactions and Shindico.
Tapper said the most egregious incident is a Feb. 23 post on a blog Warren created, entitled The Katz Doctrine, a 10-point document that appears culled from Internet sources and is linked to the Real Jew News website.
"I don't think we've seen anything this vicious since 1939," Tapper said.
He said authorities are aware of Warren's most recent blog post.
Winnipeg police said Tuesday they've received a complaint about the blog post and an investigation is ongoing.
Tapper said the Shindlemans' claim should not be viewed as the brothers using the courts on behalf of the city's Jewish community to deal with possibly anti-Semitic comments.
He said the crux of the case is the brothers are simply protecting themselves and their company from a racist and increasingly personal attack.
In his affidavit, Sandy Shindleman says if Warren is not stopped, he will continue to post material about him, his brother and Shindico Realty.
"I therefore seek an injunction preventing the defendant from commenting about me or my co-plaintiff or my company in any way, shape or form whatsoever," Shindleman said in the court document.
The brothers are seeking an unspecified award for aggravated, punitive and/or exemplary damages.
"The defendant should be enjoined from making any such further allegations in any manner whatsoever, as the statements and allegations are manifestly false, malicious and grossly defamatory," the claim says.