Comedian Ordered To Pay £20,000 For Joke About Disabled Singer
A comedian has been ordered to pay $35,000 (£20,382) after making a joke about a disabled singer.
French-Canadian Mike Ward appealed against an earlier decision, but the Quebec Court of Appeal largely upheld the original ruling.
Ward made jokes about Jéremy Gabriel in 2010 and 2013, who has Treacher Collins syndrome - and once sang for the Pope and Celine Dion.
Ward joked that people were only nice to Gabriel because he has a terminal illness - which he does not - and that he wasn't a very good singer.
He said: "He's dying, let him live his dream. Five years later, he's still not dead." Adding that he had tried to drown the singer but that he wouldn't die.
In 2016, Ward appeared before the Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal where it was found he had discriminated against Gabriel and his parents for 'making discriminatory comments regarding Jéremy Gabriel, infringing his right to equality'. He was told to pay $35,000 in moral and punitive damages to Gabriel and a further $7,000 to his mother.
Ward appealed the decision, but the Appellate Court mostly upheld the ruling. He has now vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Sharing the news on Twitter, Ward said: "Been reading online that I lost my court case, which isn't 100 percent true.
"In 2016 the Quebec Human Rights Commission ordered me to pay a $42,000 fine because of a joke I told on stage about a local celebrity (who happened to be a disabled child); $7,000 to the mother, $35,000 to the kid.
"I refused to pay, went to the Appellate Court.
"The Appellate Court of Quebec reversed the $7,000 fine, which is a good thing. It means, in Canada, if someone makes fun of you, your family doesn't deserve financial compensation.
"Here is the s*** part about Canada, well most Quebec, the Quebec government is till ordering me to pay $35,000 because of a joke.
"I am, once again, refusing to pay. We are going to take this to the Supreme Court.
"Comedy is not a crime.
"In a 'free' country, it shouldn't be up to a judge to decide what constitutes a joke on stage. The people in attendance laughing already answered that question.
"I'm telling you right now, I [would] rather go to prison than pay even one tenth of this stupid fine."