Below is a link to yet another excellent article by Alan Shanoff, solicitor-Emeritus of the Toronto Sun. This time, he writes on the subject of Canada’s defamation laws, and the previous difficulty in defending oneself from an accusation of libel or slander. Essentially speaking, ‘freedom of expression’ was losing out against ‘protection of reputation’, with it being extremely difficult to find adequate defences against such accusations.
Recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions have effectively created the “public interest responsible communication” (PIRC) defence, which allows protection if the defendant acted in a “responsible manner” despite making errors.
In my own opinion, the lack of defences available to those accused of libel or slander has had a chilling affect on free speech in all of the English-speaking world with the possible exception of the United States, and Americans wishing to silence dissent have gone to extraordinary lengths to find a way to use British courts in particular to engage in “lawfare” against their opponents.
One way was to purchase a copy of the target book and have it delivered to an address in Britain, thus providing an excuse to sue in Britain, where defences against libel are minimal.
Finding a proper balance between free speech and defamation is a never-ending exercise, but I believe Mr. Shanoff has it right when he says that the new defence of PIRC is “leaning in the right direction.”
See Alan Shanoff’s article “Clarifying defamation law” here.
Read the Amazon.com book description of “Lawfare: The War Against Free Speech: A First Amendment Guide for Reporting in an Age of Islamist Lawfare” here.