A prominent political commentator is asking a court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from a former member of Parliament who is now leader of a fringe federal political party.
A lawyer for Warren Kinsella is arguing in Ontario Superior Court the suit from People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is a strategic action intended to silence expression in the public interest.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation — known as SLAPPs — are levied against people or organizations that take a position on an issue, with the aim of limiting their free speech.
In response to a spate of such cases, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have enacted laws to curb them.
Bernier alleges Kinsella repeatedly branded him as a racist on social media and blog posts before, during and after the 2019 federal election campaign.
Kinsella's lawyer, David Shiller, says his client's style is caustic and direct, but that does not mean his speech or expression is entitled to any less protection.