The Quebec comedian who made a joke about disabled child singer Jeremy Gabriel did not breach the limits of free speech in Canada, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 split decision.
Canada's top court ruled on Friday that while Mike Ward did indeed mock the child singer during a standup set, that Gabriel was only the target of jokes because of his fame rather than his disability.
The court would rule that Ward's jokes did not seek to incite others to make fun of Gabriel.
"The impugned comments … were made by a career comedian known for this type of humour. They exploited, rightly or wrongly, a feeling of discomfort in order to entertain, but they did little more than that," the majority judgment stated, reports CBC.
Four judges voted otherwise, saying that Gabriel's dignity was violated.
The decision wraps up a years-long dispute between Ward and Gabriel. Ward appeared in front of the Supreme Court after a Quebec Judge ordered him to pay $35,000 for the joke.
The Quebec court would uphold the decision by the Human Rights Tribunal which awarded damages to Gabriel last November.
The joke in question dealt with the idea that Gabriel was not only a bad singer, but that he was "terminally ill" and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his "Make a Wish" was null.
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