Mainstream Canada wins defamation lawsuit
Mainstream Canada on Monday announced the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled against anti-salmon farming activist Don Staniford.
The court also granted Mainstream Canada CAD 75,000 (USD 72,512/EUR 55,008) in special costs based on Staniford’s behavior during the trial.
“It affected our employees, their families, our suppliers and our partners. A company is not just its registration number. The soul of a company is its employees, and we need to stand up for them and defend them against malicious and defamatory attacks, and against cyberbullying,” said Laurie Jensen, Mainstream Canada's communications and corporate sustainability manager. “We are pleased that the court recognizes that especially in the age of the Internet, public comments need to be backed up by facts.”
The original trial judge found that Staniford’s comments were defamatory and motivated by express malice toward Mainstream, but that they were protected by the defense of fair comment because readers could make up their own minds about what he was saying. In the new judgment, Justice David Tysoe found that Staniford was not eligible for protection under a fair comment defense because he failed to adequately present facts to back up his claims.
“All of the readers of the publications were not in a position to make up their own minds about the merits of what Mr. Staniford said in the publications. Accordingly, one of the elements of the defense of fair comment was not satisfied, and the defense was not available to Mr. Staniford. The judge erred in dismissing Mainstream's defamation claim,” wrote Justice Tysoe. “I would allow the appeal and set aside the judge's order dismissing Mainstream's claim and her costs order. I would grant the injunction requested in Mainstream's amended notice of civil claim, and I would award Mainstream general damages in the amount of CAD 25,000 (USD 24,191/EUR 18,352) and punitive damages in the amount of CAD 50,000 (USD 48,484/EUR 36,776). I would award Mainstream special costs of the action and party and party costs of this appeal.”
“Today’s judgment shows that while public debate should be encouraged, it should be based on fact, and critics should be held accountable for their public commentary,” said Mainstream Canada in a statement.