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In a 4-3 decision, Canada's Supreme Court Thursday upheld the nation's laws banning hate-mongering as reasonable limits on free expression.

The cases involved former Eckville, Alberta, mayor and high school teacher Jim Keegstra and John Ross Taylor of the white supremacist Western Guard Party.

"Parliament's objective of preventing the harm caused by hate propaganda is of sufficient importance to warrant overriding a constitutional freedom," then-Chief Justice Brian Dickson wrote for the majority.

The law's objective is supported by "our collective historical knowledge of the potentially catastrophic effects of the promotion of hatred," Dickson wrote, adding international agreements aimed at the eradication of hate propaganda and Canada's commitment to "equality and multiculturalism" also buttressed this objective.

Keegstra, then a high school teacher, was convicted for willfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group by teaching his students about an alleged international Jewish conspiracy.

Keegstra was also fined $5,000.

The same reasonings were used in upholding the conviction of Taylor for spreading anti-Semitic messages through prerecorded telephone messages, despite a court order to cease.

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