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Canadian Frontline Nurses v. Canadian Nurses Association, 2022 ONSC 7280

Vermette J.: “The Plaintiffs have been outspoken critics of prevailing public health guidance related to COVID-19, using social media platforms and attending in-person protests to disseminate their views. When a person injects themselves into public debate over a contentious topic, they must expect that they are going to be met with some measure of rebuttal, perhaps forceful rebuttal, by those who take the opposite view.”

“In my view, the public interest in protecting the expression in issue is substantial. The expression in both the CNA Statement and the TNI Article relates to matters of public interest regarding public health that are of significant importance. The COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 health treatments have been described as “the defining public health issue of our time”: see Gill v. Maciver, 2022 ONSC 1279 at paras. 189, 315 (“Gill”). The CNA Statement and the TNI Article contributed to the public debate on these important issues and the protection of such expression is consistent with the purposes of section 137.1 of the CJA which are set out in subsection 137.1(1).”

“In my view, this action meets the criteria under subsection 137.1(3) as this proceeding arises from expressions made by the Defendants that relate to a matter of public interest, and the Plaintiffs have failed to discharge their burden under subsection 137.1(4). As a result, this action is dismissed.”