Sudbury man found guilty of promoting hate toward former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne
SUDBURY -- A Sudbury man has been found guilty of promoting hate against a marginalized group during the 2018 provincial election.
The charge against David Popescu, 70, stems from comments he made during the 2018 provincial election, when he said former Premier Kathleen Wynne should put to death for being lesbian.
Popescu is a perennial fringe candidate in local elections, running municipally, provincially and federally, using open debates to promote his brand of radical Christianity. He was barred from at least one public debate in 2018, after making regular appearances at them over the years.
In addition to his hateful comments about marginalized groups, Popescu was convicted in 2006 for assaulting his mother during an argument.
While reading her written decision, Justice Heather-Ann Mendes quoted some of Popescu's comments, including: "God's wrath is on all who show compassion of (Kathleen Wynne's) kind and commands good government to put her to death."
Mendes ruled Popescu, who represented himself throughout the trial, failed to cite any specific portion of the Bible, but instead extrapolated text to spread his hateful messages.
"I note that Mr. Popescu has not, quoted directly from the Bible," Justice Mendes' decision reads. "Instead, Mr. Popescu has promoted his hateful world view in the guise of a religious decree. Put another way, Mr. Popescu used the Bible as a cover for his hateful beliefs."
In June 2018, Popescu made and distributed DVDs containing statements that promoted hate against an identifiable group, in this case, homosexuals and the former premier.
A Sudbury resident found and collected 14 of the videos in her apartment building, which she turned over to Greater Sudbury Police.
Throughout the trial, Popescu argued his views are based on hatred that God has for homosexuals, that his condemnation of the LGBTQ community was from a biblical stance.
In her written ruling, Mendes quotes Popescu as saying "homosexuals are worthy of death, under God's death penalty."
Mendes ruled Popescu failed to make his case, that he was not reliable, was unfocussed during his testimony and failed to provide a direct quote from the Bible backing his calls for violent action against Wynne.
'It's not OK'
A spokesperson for Fierte Sudbury Pride said the ruling sends an important message.
"I think that when these sort of comments are made, we need to act and shut it down immediately," said Ryan Wildgoose. "Make it clear that it's not OK, because hate speech empowers but it empowers the wrong people."
Wildgoose first heard Popescu speak in 2008, while he was a student at Sudbury Secondary School. He said Popescu made derogatory comments about the LBGTQ2+ community during a debate, alleging Popescu said all homosexuals should be executed."
"I felt very shocked -- very shocked and angry," Wildgoose said. "I was 17-years-old, this was the first time I had ever seen something like this. I knew there was hatred out there, but I never knew that somebody would use their platform and come forward like that. So the first thing I wanted to do was make sure that this was not OK."
Mendes dismissed the argument that Popescu could have been willfully blind, saying she found that his statements were "made with the clear intention of targeting an identifiable group in an attempt to promote hatred against members of the LGBTQ community."
Popescu is due back in court on Nov. 13 for sentencing submissions.