11.18.2021 03:13 PM

Canadian Lawyer Magazine on Bernier v. Kinsella: “Bernier failed”

Full story here. Snippets below:

“The Ontario Superior Court has dismissed People’s Party of Canada leader, Maxime Bernier’s defamation action against lawyer, author and consultant, Warren Kinsella.

In Bernier v. Kinsella, 2021 ONSC 7451, the court found Bernier failed to overcome the statutory hurdle under Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which is necessary before a defamation action involving a matter of public interest can proceed. Section 137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act calls for the dismissal of defamation proceedings concerning matters of public interest “to avoid the weaponization of the courts against freedom of speech and public discourse.”

…Bernier alleged that he lost his seat because of Kinsella’s statements. But the court said that due to the prevalent reports of Bernier as racist and xenophic, “Mr. Kinsella’s postings can be seen as a drop of vitriol in a sea of criticism.” The court concluded that Bernier failed to demonstrate any harm flowing from Kinsella’s statements.

The court cited Ontario Ltd. v. Pointes Protection Association, 2018 ONCA 685, where the Court of Appeal said that the anti-SLAPP legislation aims to “weed out litigation of doubtful merit which unduly discourages and seeks to restrict free and open expression on matters of public interest.” In the end, the court did not allow Bernier’s defamation action to proceed because of his failure to satisfy anti-SLAPP’s two-part screening mechanism.”

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