February 16, 2021
Levant v Demelle 2021 ONSC 1074
In December 2019 Rebel News and its founder Ezra Levant commenced a simplified procedure action against the defendants Brendan Demelle and The Narwhal News Society.
The plaintiffs alleged Demelle published a defamatory statement in an article entitled “Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada’s Extremist Network ‘The Rebel’ Tries for the Prize” written and published by Demelle on his website www.desmogblog.com in October 2019. .
Demelle brought a motion pursuant to section 137.1(3) of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. C43 for an order dismissing the action as a SLAPP.
The Court found that the plaintiffs showed the presence of grounds to believe that Demelle had no valid defence of responsible communication on matters of public interest.
The final step under the section 137.1 analysis required the plaintiffs to satisfy their onus of showing that the harm they suffered as a result of the defendant’s expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting their action to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting Demelle’s expression.
The Court found that the plaintiffs did not lead any specific evidence that any specific harm had been suffered as a direct result of Demelle’s publications.
The Court concluded by saying, “as such, in the words of Justice Belobaba in B.W.(Brad) Blair, the plaintiffs have “not cleared the threshold of showing harm and causation.””
The plaintiffs’ action was dismissed.