The Fourniers & Free Dominion Appeal Life Sentence and Gag Order

The Fourniers & Free Dominion Appeal Life Sentence and Gag Order

Defamation Law is strangling the Internet
As long time bloggers and forum hosts (13 years so far), we recently finished a long battle against Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) that resulted in the Canadian Parliament repealing the section.
During that time we have also been fighting several defamation and copyright lawsuits that were launched against us by supporters of Section 13. (see Footnote)
Yesterday we received news that is devastating, not only to us, but to anyone who loves freedom of speech on the internet and that includes forum hosts, bloggers and media outlets that allow listeners, readers or viewers to make uncensored comments on their web site.
The two of us and two Free Dominion posters, Peter O’Donnell and Faramir, have been ordered to pay $127,000 to litigant Richard Warman. This is bad enough, but the judge also gave Warman an injunction that states that we are prohibited from publishing anything about the plaintiff that has been found to be defamatory. (In this context, “publishing” includes anything posted on the Free Dominion web site, with or without our knowledge or consent.)
This injunction lasts for life, and can result in prison time for contempt of court if the terms are violated!
We had no choice but to close the forum!
Given the propensity of our political opponents to use agent provocateurs to post inflammatory material on the internet, including on our web site, we knew that given enough time, an anonymous agent would post material on our site that would violate the injunction, so we had to close the forum to protect ourselves.

Paul Fromm, Witness for the Fourniers (right), Ottawa, September, 2013

The Impact
Defamation law is becoming every bit as dangerous for Canadian internet users as Section 13 was!

Defamation law says that a statement is defamatory if it “tends to lower the esteem of the subject in the minds of the ordinary members of the public“.
As you can see, that could apply to any remark viewed by the subject as negative.

Once an action is filed, you have to incur the legal costs of making a defence or accept whatever verdict and penalty the court may decide to impose.

If you are a forum or blog owner and the comment was made by an anonymous poster, you have no defence of “fair comment” because you are not allowed to give “opinion” evidence of the state of mind of the poster or to state what facts the poster relied on. You are effectively taken to task for not censoring the commentary of a third person and not allowed to defend yourself.
You are 100% responsible.

If an anonymous poster makes comment on your blog and someone sues you for it, you can lose everything you have…even if you remove the allegedly offending words or post from your site.
What can we do?
We must appeal this decision because an injunction that could impose jail time for the actions of someone else is grossly unfair and, undoubtedly unconstitutional. We cannot let this precedent stand.
Operating a blog or forum and allowing readers to post their opinions should not lead to financial ruin or put a person’s entire future at risk. As the
Ontario Civil Liberties Association recently stated, the Tort of Defamation needs to be abolished. We will fight on both of these fronts.
We must appeal this decision, and we have two other hearings coming up before the end of March. We desperately need help with our legal expenses so we can keep up our fight for freedom of speech on the internet!
Any contribution would be greatly appreciated and we promise to put it to good use!

If you prefer to donate by mail, please send your cheque here:

Connie Fournier
2000 Unity Rd.,
Elginburg, ON K0H 1M0

Thank you!
Connie and Mark Fournier 

Free Dominion Silenced — Richard Warman Cannot Be Criticized on their Site

Free Dominion Silenced — Richard Warman Cannot Be Criticized on their Site

Richard Warman seems to do very well in Ottawa with defamation suits. The courts there seem to like him and he pockets fat awards, plus costs. He’s a hometown boy. His wife too works in the legal system. It’s tough for outsiders like the Fourniers or CAFE/Fromm or others who have not had the home town advantage. On January 23, a provincial  superior judge, Robert Smith,  slapped the Fourniers with a crushing Singapore-style $127,000 judgement — damages and costs for Richard Warman in a six-year long defamation suit. The Fourniers are shutting down their website Free Dominion, at least as a discussion board.


They write: “As of today, January 23, 2014, and after 13 years online, Free Dominion is closing its doors to the public. We have been successfully censored.

Today, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith issued an order in the Richard Warman vs Mark and Connie Fournier and John Does defamation case heard September, 2013. In addition to ordering that we must pay Warman $127,000, Justice Smith issued an injunction against us ordering we that never publish, or allow to be published, anything negative about Richard Warman. This means we are barred for life from ever operating a public forum or a blog (even about cookie recipes) where the public can comment. If we do so, any one of Warman’s handful of supporters could, and probably would, use a common proxy server to avoid being traced, plant a negative comment about Warman on our site, and we would both be charged with contempt of court. If that happened –unlike in the Ottawa courtroom where we were blocked at every turn from presenting a defense– we actually would have no defense. We would both go to jail. This life sentence was imposed for our terrible crimes of voicing our honestly held beliefs and allowing others to do the same. Defamation law, in its current state, is entirely inadequate and counterproductive when applied to the internet. Now it is being used as a tool of censorship. Effectively!

We are assessing our options.

In faith,
Mark and Connie Fournier

“If it takes force to impose your ideas on your fellow man, there is something wrong with your ideas. If you are willing to use force to impose your ideas on your fellow man, there is something wrong with you.” – Mark Fournier


The good news is that the Fourniers are appealing.


A lawyer we consulted says that Canada’s libel laws have to be changed and brought into the age of the Internet. To make the owner of a discussion board responsible for the comments of anonymous posters is repressive and unrealistic. In the U.S., an aggrieved person must go after the person who wrote the post, not the owner of the discussion board.


The injunction granted to Richard Warman is an outrage. It makes 41 comments — deemed defamatory — forbidden. While the Fourniers may be able to tiptoe in their own comments around the thin-skinned self-styled Ottawa “human rights” lawyer, they fear a troll, a mischievous “anti-racist” or even an exuberant critic of Warman’s decade long attack on posters he disapproves of on the Internet might repeat one of the forbidden criticisms — even as I am forbidden by Madam Monique Metivier’s judgement to call Mr. Warman a “censor” — and, thus, land the Fourniers into a position where they are in contempt of court and on a swift trip to prison — two more potential political prisoners in this land that preaches free speech, but practices repression.
Canada’s libel laws desperately need reform. As they stand now, they are capriciously applied, A prominent Vancovuer shock jock called Doug Christie “a perverted monster” for defending Ernst Zundel’s right to speak. That was not considered defamatory. Canada’s libel laws are beginning to resemble those of Singapore in the past. Yes, opposition to the strongman was permitted and there was a feeble opposition and the trappings of democracy. However, any opposition politician who criticized a government member quickly found himself sued for libel. Ruinous judgements soon all but silenced the opposition.
Sadly, Canada seems headed in this direction.
The Fourniers have decided to shut down FreeDominion as a discussion board. That may be wise in a repressive state but it is sad. Canada needs more spirited discussion, not less.


The Ottawa Citizen (January 29, 2014) explains the horrific blow to free speech further:

Conservative website shuttered after libel ruling


Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman wins long-running legal battle

By Andrew Duffy, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 28, 2014

Conservative website shuttered after libel ruling

Richard Warman has been awarded more than $127,000 in general damages, aggravated damages, punitive damages and court costs because of 41 defamatory statements published on the conservative website in 2007.

Photograph by: Bruno Schlumberger , BRUNO SCHLUMBERGER

OTTAWA — The online political forum, Free Dominion, has shut down after a wholesale defeat in a libel case brought by Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman.

A jury concluded that Warman was maliciously defamed by four commentators on Free Dominion, a website that bills itself as “the voice of principled conservatism.”

Warman has been awarded more than $127,000 in general damages, aggravated damages, punitive damages and court costs because of 41 defamatory statements published on the conservative website in 2007.

Warman rose to prominence during the past decade by using the Canadian Human Rights Act to shut down the websites of people spreading hate speech; it made him the target of free speech advocates in the conservative blogosphere, and on websites such as Free Dominion.

In a recently released decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith granted Warman a permanent injunction that prohibits Free Dominion from ever repeating “in any manner whatsoever” any of the 41 defamations.

The website’s operators, Connie and Mark Fournier, of Kingston, this week shut down, saying they could not control what comments other people posted.

“By leaving the forum open and allowing people to comment, we’d be opening ourselves to a contempt-of-court charge,” Connie Fournier said Tuesday.

“If someone repeated one of those comments, we would be in trouble — and could even go to jail.”

The Fourniers have operated the website as a “labour of love” for the past 13 years.

“It’s really sad to be at the point where we have to shut down the political forum,” she said. “But we’ve come to the point where it would be crazy for us to keep it open: it would be too much of a risk.”

They have vowed to appeal the defamation case and have launched a campaign on to raise money for their legal costs. The campaign has so far raised $2,800 of its $25,000 goal.”


Paul Fromm