Monday, October 21, 2019
ADVT 
National

Veterans Activist Gets Ok To Press $25K Libel Suit Against Liberal Minister

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 12 Jul, 2019
  • Veterans Activist Gets Ok To Press $25K Libel Suit Against Liberal Minister

TORONTO - A noted veterans activist can proceed with his defamation suit against the former minister of veterans affairs after Ontario's top court ruled Friday that a deputy judge in small claims court had no authority to throw out the claim without a hearing on its merits.

 

In its decision, the Court of Appeal ordered the $25,000 libel suit Sean Bruyea brought against Seamus O'Regan back to small claims court for trial.

 

"If the government is so confident that they did not personally attack and defame me, then please let the case go to trial," Bruyea said after the ruling.

 

Bruyea, of Ottawa, sued O'Regan for an article in the Hill Times on Feb. 26, 2018. In the column, the then-veterans affairs minister took aim at Bruyea for criticizing a Liberal government decision to give veterans with service-related injuries the choice of a lump-sum payment or life-time pension.

 

Among other things, O'Regan accused Bruyea of lying about the program to suit his personal agenda.

The disabled veteran sued O'Regan, currently Indigenous services minister, and the attorney general for damages in small claims court, a division of the Superior Court of Justice.

 

In August last year, Deputy Judge David Dwoskin in Ottawa threw out Bruyea's suit pre-trial on request from O'Regan and the government. O'Regan had pushed for dismissal of the case under Ontario's "anti-SLAPP" legislation, which bars lawsuits that are aimed at stifling legitimate free speech.

 

Dwoskin found O'Regan's statements "constituted expression relating to a matter of public interest" and that Bruyea had failed to show his claim had substantial merit. The deputy judge ruled the public interest in dismissal outweighed allowing the claim to proceed to trial.

 

Bruyea appealed, prompting the higher court to ask whether Dwoskin even had the jurisdiction to dismiss the case based on anti-SLAPP legislation. Ultimately, the court concluded in a precedent-setting decision that deputy judges cannot hear such a motion.

 

The legislation, the Appeal Court said, expressly allows a judge to hear and rule on such a dismissal motion. However, unlike other provisions, the relevant section of the Courts of Justice Act makes no reference to deputy judges — lawyers appointed to hear small claims cases — having such power.

 

"Either deputy judges have been given the authority to provide certain relief, or they have not," the Appeal Court said. "It is not for the court to find authority where the legislature has chosen not to clearly provide it."

 

The Appeal Court also refused to decide O'Regan's request to toss the case based on the anti-SLAPP legislation, saying it would be inappropriate to get involved before the matter had been decided by a lower court.

 

Bruyea said he was hopeful he could now get on with a trial.

 

"The minister can then personally explain on the stand his decision to ignore much advice from his own department that my article's facts and arguments were largely accurate in their eyes," he said.

 

Bruyea criticized O'Regan, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the government for throwing up procedural roadblocks to a proper hearing.

 

"Bringing these technical motions in small claims court is frankly abusive and detracts from the real case at hand," Bruyea said. "A powerful government with endless resources should not be permitted to inundate individual Canadians with complex legal motions in order to avoid dealing with the merits of the defamation case."

 

MORE National ARTICLES

Alberta Seeks To Intervene In B.C.'s Appeal To Supreme Court On Energy Projects

Alberta Seeks To Intervene In B.C.'s Appeal To Supreme Court On Energy Projects

Alberta wants to have its say when British Columbia goes to the Supreme Court for a ruling on who is in charge of interprovincial projects like pipelines.

 

 

Alberta Seeks To Intervene In B.C.'s Appeal To Supreme Court On Energy Projects

Officials Warned China, India Could Use Communities In Canada To Advance Agendas

Officials Warned China, India Could Use Communities In Canada To Advance Agendas

Some of the federal government's top bureaucrats have been warned that China and India might try to use their respective migrant communities in Canada to advance their own interests.

 

 

Officials Warned China, India Could Use Communities In Canada To Advance Agendas

Magnitude-4.6 Earthquake Hits Seattle Area, Felt As Far As Vancouver

Magnitude-4.6 Earthquake Hits Seattle Area, Felt As Far As Vancouver

A magnitude-4.6 earthquake that struck outside Seattle has reportedly been felt as far north as the Vancouver area.

Magnitude-4.6 Earthquake Hits Seattle Area, Felt As Far As Vancouver

Shooting In Oppenheimer Park Sends Man To Hospital: Vancouver Police Express Concern About Safety In The Park

Shooting In Oppenheimer Park Sends Man To Hospital: Vancouver Police Express Concern About Safety In The Park

Vancouver Police are investigating a shooting in Oppenheimer Park and are raising concern about the safety risk associated with the park.

 

 

Shooting In Oppenheimer Park Sends Man To Hospital: Vancouver Police Express Concern About Safety In The Park

Op-ed: More Child Care Spaces Support Families And Strengthen Economy

Op-ed: More Child Care Spaces Support Families And Strengthen Economy

When I think about what child care means for families in B.C., I think of all the patchwork calendars stuck to fridges across the province telling the child care story of each household. 

Op-ed: More Child Care Spaces Support Families And Strengthen Economy

Chilliwack Man Charged With Sex Assault, Child Pornography Offences

Chilliwack Man Charged With Sex Assault, Child Pornography Offences

Police Say Robert Wayne Calvert Has Been Charged With A Dozen Sex Offences, Including Sexual Assault And Child Pornography, And Investigators Are Asking The Public To Come Forward If They Have More Information.

 

Chilliwack Man Charged With Sex Assault, Child Pornography Offences

PrevNext