…and so will the other defendants named in this big defamation action. Barring a speedy discretion-before-dishonour top-secret settlement, this thing will drag on for quite some time. But whenever it concludes, it will do so with the Liberal leader and his inner circle losing, big time.
I haven’t read the pleadings, but what is publicly known about this little psychodrama suggests apologies, retractions and cheque-writing are in Justin Trudeau’s future. Here’s why:
- There were several statements made by Trudeau and his inner circle that had a tendency to defame Christine Innes’ reputation: they stated, directly, that she engaged in intimidation and threats with Young Liberals. Chances of those Young Liberals being (a) available and/or (b) credible at the time of trial? Zero.
- The publicly-expressed justification for the barring of Innes is completely contradicted by the privately-expressed reason: Trudeau, he of the open nomination pledge, wanted to save the seat for Chrystia Freeland. Innes has the emails to prove that. Trudeau not only will be shown to be caught in a fib, he will be found to be caught in a defamatory fib.
- Innes has damages that are easy to measure: She was the previous candidate, twice, and now has been barred for professed reasons that (see above) are patently false. Her professional reputation has clearly been damaged, and from coast-to-coast, too. (Personal, but not legal, source of irritation for me: Innes was ostensibly barred not for her actions, but that of her husband. Talk about sexist.)
- Innes has met all of the legal requirements for a winning case: identification (clear), publication (widespread) and defamatory (I’d argue it’s defamatory per se, the most serious variant). Being a “reverse onus tort,” the legal burden now shifts to Trudeau et al. – and the presumption will be that they defamed Innes, that they were malicious, that they spoke falsely, and that there are damages. Those things will be presumed. Ouch.
Could I be wrong? Of course. I thought (and still feel) Divisional Court were idiotic for letting Rob Ford off the hook – I never saw that bit of historic stupidity coming. Could happen in the Innes v. Trudeau et al. case, too.
But as things stand now, Trudeau and his advisors will lose, big time. And the NDP’s Joe Cressy has already won a by-election that hasn’t even been called yet.