January 28, 2022
Levant v DeMelle 2022 ONCA 79
In this most recent anti-SLAPP decision, the ONCA dismissed appeals by Rebel Media and Ezra Levant, from lower court decisions dismissing their defamation actions.
On the merits, when looking at the “weighing of public interest” stage, the court found limited harm to Rebel Media as it is a corporation and does not have an “unblemished” reputation.
Also at the weighing stage, the ONCA cites the fact that Rebel Media and Levant enter the fray on controversial topics. The court states that “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…”
On the issue of costs, the ONCA found that “these actions …bear three of the four hallmarks of a SLAPP lawsuit. It is such lawsuits that s. 137.1 was designed to prevent, or at least quash at the earliest opportunity. As I have already set out, it is the deterrence of such lawsuits that led to the Report’s proposal for full indemnity costs. The purpose behind the presumptive costs award clearly applies to these cases.”