Musings —11.11.2021 07:57 AM—
Key bits below. Full story, by my former Herald colleague Joan Bryden, here.
“OTTAWA — Maxime Bernier has lost his defamation fight against a columnist who repeatedly portrayed the People’s Party of Canada leader as racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic during the run-up to the 2019 federal election.
His defamation suit against political strategist and pundit Warren Kinsella was tossed out of Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday.
…Justice Calum MacLeod ruled that Bernier had not proved that the harm to his reputation outweighs the importance of protecting freedom of speech on matters of public interest.
MacLeod said Bernier also failed to meet the test that Kinsella had no defence of justification that would have a reasonable chance of success had the defamation suit proceeded.
“This is not a case of ‘false news’ with no foundation in fact. Mr. Kinsella was basing his comments on actual positions taken by Mr. Bernier and on actual events,” MacLeod wrote in his ruling.
Nor was Kinsella alone in concluding that Bernier was racist and xenophobic or pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Such characterizations of Bernier were “rife” in mainstream media, the judge added.
“Mr. Kinsella may have approached his task with particular caustic enthusiasm but, at worst, Mr. Kinsella’s postings can be seen as a drop of vitriol in a sea of criticism.”
MacLeod said there’s no evidence to suggest Kinsella’s efforts caused [Bernier to lose his seat in Parliament], noting that Bernier himself admitted that few of his constituents were likely to have read Kinsella’s broadsides, written in English.
During the election campaign earlier this fall, Bernier attracted large crowds with his opposition to vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19. His supporters were prominent among the angry, profanity-spewing protesters who dogged Prime Justin Trudeau’s campaign.
Experts who follow hate groups have said the anti-vaccination fringe has been infiltrated and exploited by white supremacists.”