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Evangelisti v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2024 ONSC 2048

Mr. Evangelisti commenced an application in the Superior Court of Justice seeking an interim, interlocutory, and permanent injunction to prevent the CBC from publishing “any news to the general public” regarding the applicants and damages “in relation to [the respondents’] oppression and malice conduct.” He also sought damages from some of his former customers who spoke to CBC reporters about the story.

The general test for injunctions from RJR — MacDonald has no application to injunctions in defamation proceedings. Courts are very reluctant to issue an injunction to restrain a pending news publication because such an injunction profoundly interferes with the right to freedom of expression, which is protected by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The prior restraint of speech is anathema to the values that lie at the core of the right to free expression. An injunction preventing the publication of a news story could only be justified in the clearest of circumstances.

A court will only issue an injunction to restrain future speech where the court is satisfied that any reasonable trier of fact would find the words to be spoken so manifestly defamatory and impossible to justify that an action in defamation would almost certainly succeed. The applicants did not meet this test.