BPC Bulletin: Defamation Lawsuit News Roundup

News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee

 

The following news reports about Canadian defamation lawsuits appeared in the Canadian news media.

The lawsuits, which affect or affected writers and publishers, originated in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

 

REPORTAGE

 

May 2019

1) In Ontario, the CBC filed a motion in court to have a sandwich company’s defamation lawsuit tossed.

The CBC filed the motion in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. Subway is suing the CBC for $210 million.

Subway objects to the portrayal of its sandwiches in a Marketplace story which aired in February 2017.

CBC News reports:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/subway-lawsuit-chicken-marketplace-1.5160181

 

2) In Manitoba, a judge ordered a freelance writer to pay more than $450,000 to an unnamed surgeon whom the writer had defamed on the Internet.

In the Court of Queen’s Bench, Judge Deborah J. McCawley awarded the surgeon $456,088 in damages. She also ordered the writer — Jared A. Shapira — to pay the doctor’s legal costs.

Holly Caruk of CBC News reports:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/freelance-writer-defamation-story-1.5149224

 

April 2019

3) In Ottawa, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear an appeal of Platnick v. Bent.

Howard Platnick, a medical doctor, wants to sue Maia Bent, a personal injury lawyer, for $15 million. Dr. Platnick alleges defamation.

In Canadian Underwriter, Greg Meckbach reports:
https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/claims/supreme-court-to-consider-insurers-medical-examiner-defamation-suit-against-lawyer-1004162393/

In the National, Carrie Swiggum writes:
http://www.nationalmagazine.ca/en-ca/articles/law/hot-topics-in-law/2019/no-harm-in-free-speech

 

4) In British Columbia, Frank Giustra, a billionaire businessman, launched a defamation lawsuit against Twitter.

Mr. Giustra, who is the CEO of the Fiore Group of Companies and founder of Lionsgate Entertainment, filed the civil claim in the province’s Supreme Court.

In Vancouver, CTV News reports:
https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-billionaire-suing-twitter-for-defamation-over-pizzagate-1.4397469

Simon Little of Global News reports:
https://globalnews.ca/news/5207866/frank-giustra-twitter-lawsuit/

In the North Shore News, Brent Richter reports:

https://www.nsnews.com/news/west-van-billionaire-sues-twitter-for-defamation-1.23803374

 

5) In Alberta, Kerry Diotte and The Gateway settled their defamation dispute.

Mr. Diotte, a Conservative MP, represents the riding of Edmonton Griesbach. The Gateway is a student newspaper at the University of Alberta.

In 2018, The Gateway published articles that falsely described Mr. Diotte as a racist.

Phil Heidenreich of Global News reports:
https://globalnews.ca/news/5234013/university-of-alberta-gateway-apology-kerry-diotte/

In the Edmonton Journal, Dustin Cook reports:
https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-mp-settles-lawsuit-against-u-of-a-student-newspaper-following-retraction-and-apology

In the Huffington Post, Samantha Beattie writes:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2019/05/01/tory-mp-settles-lawsuit-alberta-student-newspaper_a_23720163/

 

March 2019

6) Facing an $8-million defamation lawsuit in Ontario, the publisher of Patrick Brown’s political memoir said that the facts in the book are true and that any opinions in the book are fair comment.

In 2018, Optimum Publishing International published Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown. Mr. Brown is a former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of finance, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Brown and Optimum. Mr. Fedeli objects to his portrayal in the book.

Paola Loriggio of the Canadian Press reports:
https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/03/12/brown-book-not-defamatory-because-its-contents-are-true-publisher-claims/

 

7) In Ontario, the Court of Appeal ruled that a construction company’s defamation lawsuit against a major newspaper should be decided in a trial.

Bondfield Construction is suing The Globe and Mail for $125 million.

The court also set aside an earlier ruling that dismissed the lawsuit and ordered Bondfield Construction to pay the newspaper $500,000 in legal costs.

Colin Perkel of the Canadian Press reports:
https://www.on-sitemag.com/construction/trial-needed-for-125m-bondfield-libel-suit-against-the-globe-and-mail-court-says/1003962514/

In The Globe and Mail, Sean Fine reports:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontarios-top-court-allows-defamation-lawsuit-against-the-globe-and/

At Lexology, James Little and Evan Rankin write:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e4398dcd-f0ef-4fa0-91fb-39833ac857c7

 

8) In Ontario, the Court of Appeal ruled that the defamation lawsuit of Dmitri Lascaris, a Green activist, may proceed against B’nai Brith Canada.

A lower court had dismissed the lawsuit as a SLAPP.

In The Recorder & Times, Jane Stevenson reports:

https://www.recorder.ca/news/local-news/ontario-court-of-appeal-rules-defamation-suit-against-bnai-brith-can-proceed/wcm/21148e67-a919-43cf-bfb8-37b1905f05a2

9) In Ontario, judges in the Superior Court of Justice recently dismissed two defamation lawsuits as SLAPPs: New Dermamed Inc. v. Sulaiman and United Soils Management Ltd. v. Mohammed. Later, the Court of Appeal upheld these decisions.

In the Law Times, Shannon Kari explains why:

https://www.lawtimesnews.com/author/shannon-kari/claims-made-under-anti-slapp-laws-dismissed-16934/

 

The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.

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