Editor's note: Please be aware some of the extreme and hateful statements Popescu made during his trial and relayed in this story may upset some readers.
The man at the centre of a hate speech trial in Greater Sudbury told court Friday he was attempting to “shock a decadent society” and educate the public about the severe warnings of God against “the wicked.”
David Popescu, 72, was in court for the end of a trial that started in November. He is charged with one count of willfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group in June 2018 during the provincial election.
“The wicked,” Popescu was referring to in court Friday are homosexuals. He said God is very specific in his stance on homosexuals, or those who “practice abomination.”
Popescu, who is representing himself in the trial, is a perennial fringe candidate who has run as an independent in all levels of government elections. Each time, Popescu distributed dozens of DVDs (his plan was to dole out about 800 DVDs) containing written and video footage of himself citing Bible scripture to spread his message.
On the jacket of the DVD, he specifically calls for a “good government” to put former Premier Kathleen Wynne to death, as she's a lesbian.
“I felt it was my privilege to speak against (Wynne) and her vile sexual stance.”
One of the recipients of the DVD complained to Greater Sudbury Police. He was subsequently arrested and charged. His trial began Nov. 4.
Popescu was convicted of promoting hatred in 2009 after telling a group of high school students that homosexuals should be executed, remarks he made during a candidates debate for the federal election. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.
In December 2015, similar charges levied against Popescu were withdrawn. Greater Sudbury Police had charged Popescu with advocating or promoting genocide and for willful promotion of hatred.
Popescu argued Friday he is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The DVDs at the centre of this trial contain the exact same information as the DVDs that were part of the 2015 trial, and those charges were dismissed. These charges should also be dismissed, he said.
But Assistant Crown attorney Leonard Kim said Popescu has used the fact those charges were withdrawn in 2015 as a justification for his message of hate – and his attacks on Wynne.
He called Popescu a “man obsessed with anti-gay rhetoric,” who hides behind the Bible to spread his message of hate.
Kim said Popescu is free to believe whatever he wants, but it's an entirely different story when he registers as a candidate and distributes the material under the guise of a provincial election. Spreading hatred and advocating for a politician to be killed just because of her sexual orientation crosses the line.
Throughout the trial, Popescu maintained his hatred towards homosexuals is based on the Bible and, therefore, justified.
“If you try to contradict the word of God, you're a fool, and that's what the courts are doing,” Popescu told the court. “God's word cannot be criminalized. There are serious matters of sin in today's society in God's view, whose law overrules man's law.”
He said Friday his DVDs were meant as a warning, and that there needs to be a re-education across the world because churches, schools, court and families have failed to teach the word of God. As severe as the word of God is, it needs to be taught to everyone, from a young age, Popescu said.
Often throughout his closing submissions, Popescu became emotional, sometimes raising his voice. He said the views he expressed in the DVDs are not personal -- he was simply repeating God's position.
But Kim said Popescu was trying to use the Bible to justify hate speech.
“These were attacks of hatred that went to the very core of who (homosexuals) are,” he said. “It indeed became criminal during the 2018 election, when he zeroed in on (Wynne) for no other reason than the fact she's a lesbian.”
People in Canada are entitled to feel safe, to be treated with respect, regardless of race or sexual orientation, Kim said.
Popescu said he is ultimately responsible to God, “I have no choice.” He also said he isn't concerned about going to jail if he's found guilty.
Mendez reserved her decision following an entire day of submissions. She will deliver her verdict April 30 at 2 p.m. at the Ontario Court of Justice at 159 Cedar St.