Doug Collins Dies at 81

Doug Collins, award-winning journalist, staunch defender of freedom of speech, and friend of historical revisionism, died on September 29, 2001, after a brief illness. He was eighty-one. He is survived by his wife, three adult sons, and seven grand-children.

From 1984 until his retirement in 1997 his regular column in the North Shore News of Vancouver, British Columbia, was one of paper's most popular features. In more than 1,400 essays, Collins laid out well-informed, commonsense views on Canada's most heated issues, including immigration, the status of Quebec, and special privilege "rights." Collins delighted his readers with provocative, irreverent writing that was reminiscent of H. L. Mencken -- adroitly taking aim at cant, bigotry, sophistry, and double standards in prose that was unfailingly clear, witty, and vigorous.

Few North American journalists have come under more sustained attack for their views. His detractors castigated him as a bigot, a racist, and a Hitlerite anti-Semite. At the same time, he was widely admired as a rare and defiant voice for Canada's "silent majority."

The column that got Collins into the hottest of hot water was a March 1994 essay, "Hollywood Propaganda" (reprinted in the May-June 1994 Journal), that skewered the much-hyped motion picture Schindler's List. Collins referred to it as "Swindler's List" and "hate literature in the form of films." He also wrote that "the Jewish influence is the most powerful in Hollywood," and dismissed the fabled "six million" Holocaust figure as "nonsense."

The Canadian Jewish Congress responded with a legal complaint in July 1994 against Collins and the North Shore News, charging that the "Hollywood Propaganda" column violated British Columbia's Human Rights Act. Collins became the first Canadian journalist to be tried for infringing "human rights," and his defense of freedom of opinion before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal attracted nationwide attention. In November 1997 the tribunal rejected the CJC complaint, finding that the column, although "deliberately provocative and insulting," did "not itself express hatred or contempt" in violation of the provincial "anti-hate" law. A subsequent complaint based on the "Hollywood Propaganda" column was upheld by the tribunal, and was being appealed when Collins died.

Until just days before his death, Collins continued turning out essays that were distributed via the Internet. As he wrote a few months before his passing: "I defended freedom in the 1940s when Hitler was on the loose, in the 1970s when the federal hate laws were passed, and in the 1990s when those idiots in Victoria passed their misnamed Human Rights Act, and that I shall go on defending freedom until the day I die."

Distinguished Career

Collins was born in England on September 8, 1920. During the Second World War he served in the British Army. A sergeant in the infantry, he was captured in 1940 at Dunkirk. He was later awarded the Military Medal for bravery during that campaign.

During his four years as a prisoner of war, he made no fewer than ten escape attempts. He was able to escape from a German POW camp in Silesia and stealthily made his way to Hungary. After being captured there, he made another daring escape, this time making his way to Romania. There he was imprisoned once again, but when Romania capitulated in 1944, he was freed and returned to Britain, serving in combat with British forces in northwest Europe during the war's final months.

In 1952 Collins moved to Canada, where he began a distinguished career in journalism that spanned four decades. It included work as a reporter and commentator for three major daily papers: the Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Sun, and the Vancouver Province. He also worked for Canada's CBC television network, and for a time hosted an open-line radio talk show in Vancouver.

Doug Collins was the recipient of two of Canada's most coveted awards for journalism, the National Newspaper Award (1953) and the MacMillan Bloedel Award (1975). In 1993 he was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of Canada's Confederation, given to persons "who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their community, or to Canada."

Collins was the author of four books, including his wartime memoir, POW: A Soldier's Story of His Ten Escapes from Nazi Prison Camps (1968), and Here We Go Again!, a collection of one hundred of his North Shore News columns, including the notorious "Hollywood Propaganda," published in 1998.

Over the years numerous articles about, and essays by Doug Collins have appeared in this Journal. He addressed the IHR's tenth conference in 1990. His presentation, "Reflections on the Second World War, Free Speech, and Revisionism," was published in the fall 1991 Journal (and is also available on audio- and video-tape from the IHR).


From The Journal of Historical Review, July/August 2001 (Vol. 20, No. 4), page 12.