NO JUSTICE FOR DISSIDENT WHATCOTT IN CBC LIBEL APPEAL
Canada’s courts are dominated by judges holding to a Cultural Marxist ideology. In their world, people are divided into “vulnerable minorities” who must be protected from criticism and oppressors. Near the very top of their “vulnerable minority” hit parade are homosexuals and the whole LGBTQ-alphabet soup of the sexually unusual. A strong critic for over 20 years of the homosexual agenda is Bill Whatcott. Beggared, jailed, fined, ruined by a homosexual led boycott of his carpet cleaning business, Mr. Whatcot t is nothing if not a fighter.
He won a libel action against the CBC for their deliberate distortion of his words. Good for him. However, the short-lived victory, was substantially reversed with an additional punishing kick in the kidneys, saddling him with the CBC’s costs.
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeals upheld the finding of libel but slashed the $30,000 award to a measly $1,000 and essentially cancelled it by awarding costs against Whatcott. An appeal can run $10,000 – $40,000 easily. So, even in winning, partially, Mr. Whatcott, the real victim, loses.
The decision written by Neal Caldwell concluded: “There is simply no evidence upon which to quantify or begin to assess the level of damages in this case. For this reason, although the Chambers judge’s finding of defamation attracts a presumptive award of damages, the absence of evidence of the effect of the defamation that occurred here limits that to an award of nominal damages only. The appeal is allowed in part. The finding of defamation is not subject to appellate reversal. The judge’s findings with respect to the extent of publication and actual malice are set\ aside, as is the award of aggravated damages. The award of compensatory general damages is reduced to the nominal amount of $1,000. Since the CBC was substantially successful, it shall have its costs in this appeal in the usual manner.”
The Court of Appeals is advancing the novel proposition that it is hard to know how big an audience CBC News has or what influence, if any its stories, have. Thus, so the bowel twister of an argument goes, there is no proof Mr. Whatcott suffered any damage. If the CBC really has such a small audience and so little influence, this is a sad commentary on decades of taxpayer $billion+ annual subsidy for this leftist propaganda agency.
Interestingly, in the CAFE/Fromm’s libel case, where we were sued for defamation by Richard Warman for, among other things, calling him “the high priest of censorship”, the Court gladly awarded $40,000 in damages, even though our words were circulated on relatively obscure websites, not blared over Canada’s national news network. In that case, Judge Monique Metivier seemed convinced that Warman’s reputation had been damaged by our merely uttering these words. It’s flattering but not convincing to believe that our writings are more powerful than the multi-billion dollar foghorn of the CBC. Actually, this is just another case of our leftists courts beating up on a pesky Christian; namely, Bill Whatcott.
The National Post (February 26, 2016) provides more detail to the story: In Saskatchewan, “he province’s top court has significantly cut the amount of money the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has to pay for defaming anti-gay crusader Bill Whatcott. Originally ordered to pay Whatcott $30,000, the CBC is now on the hook for only $1,000 after a partial win before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
“While I find no cogent basis to set aside the finding of defamation, I would nevertheless intervene and reduce the general damages awarded in this matter to a nominal amount,” Justice Neal Caldwell wrote on behalf of the court. ….
The issue dates back to October 2011 when the CBC published a report on The National and its website about a case involving Whatcott that was before the Supreme Court of Canada. It stemmed from a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling regarding Whatcott’s battle with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission over anti-gay pamphlets he distributed in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002.
The CBC report included a pan of one of Whatcott’s pamphlets — but not the one that was at issue in the human rights case. Rather, it was one Whatcott had distributed in Alberta in 2008. The CBC showed the side of the pamphlet with lyrics to a song that Whatcott had modified to read, “Kill the Homosexual.” On the reverse side, which the CBC didn’t show, “Whatcott had purported to disclaim or exculpate himself from liability for its inflammatory content, suggesting that he did not truly advocate the murder of homosexuals,” the decision notes.
(Don Healy / Leader-Post)Bill Whatcott handing out flyers at the University of Regina on March 6, 2013.
Whatcott sued, claiming that CBC’s depiction of the pamphlet would cause viewers to believe he advocated murdering homosexual people.
In January 2015 Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Elson agreed, finding the CBC had misrepresented the pamphlet in its four-minute news segment. He awarded Whatcott $20,000 in general damages and an additional $10,000 in aggravated damages after finding the broadcaster had acted with malice.
The CBC appealed, arguing Elson had made several legal errors.
“While the defamatory nature of the news segment is open to some interpretation, I cannot conclude that the judge’s interpretation of it as defamatory was either unreasonable or borne of an error of law,” wrote Caldwell in a decision made unanimous by Justices Ralph Ottenbreit and Maurice Herauf. Elson had found the CBC’s focus on a single, offensive phrase conveyed the impression Whatcott’s activism was more extreme that it actually was and would “tend to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person.”
However, the court did determine Elson erred in other findings.
Caldwell said the judge had no evidence about the scope of the publication so erred in assessing damages. The court said Whatcott was responsible for making his case, and “it was not for the judge to fill in the gaps with speculation.”
Whatcott had also failed to provide proof of actual malice, and Elson had made inferences based on “scant evidence,” said Caldwell.
“The mere fact the CBC had published a defamatory news segment does not serve to increase the measure of general damages or to justify an award of aggravated damages,” wrote Caldwell.”