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Canadian Internet Defamation Rulings
This case is filed under Substantive Defences
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2019 March 4
Lascaris v B’nai Brith Canada, 2019 ONCA 163, reversing 2018 ONSC 3068

The Ontario Court of Appeal set aside a lower court order dismissing this defamation action as a SLAPP pursuant to s. 137.1 of the Ontario Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43.   The claim relates to a tweet and two articles, one of which linked to a prior article about the plaintiff’s role in the “shadow cabinet” of a political party. The Court of Appeal held that this lawsuit “has none of the recognized indicia of a SLAPP lawsuit.”  In this case, if there was a power imbalance between the defendant and the plaintiff,  the Court of Appeal stated “it would appear to be in favour of the defendant.”  The plaintiff satisfied his onus of proving that it is possible the defence would not succeed.  He did not have to prove the defence has no hope of success.  The Court of Appeal stated  that “fair disagreements over policies and principles can be undertaken, indeed ought to be undertaken, through responsible discourse.  Whatever disagreements there may be between the [plaintiff’s] views and the [defendant’s] views, those views can be exchanged and debated without the need for personal attacks.  It remains open to the [defendant] to express its views on issues that concern it … without engaging in speech that is arguably defamatory.”