“The media should not live in constant fear of facing a libel suit every time a provocative commentary is published or broadcast, the Supreme Court of Canada said on Friday in a major [unanimous] ruling won by controversial
radio broadcaster Rafe Mair.” Globe & Mail Vancouver
Mair, formerly a BC MLA for the Social Credit Party, is on the tame end of the shock jock scale. Mair had taken issue with a prominent activist promoting public support of a
Ironical his anticensorship carried right through to the Supreme court hearing, the defamation case becoming a censorship case.
“An individual's reputation is not to be treated as regrettable but unavoidable roadkill on the highway of public controversy, but nor should an overly solicitous regard for personal reputation be permitted to ‘chill' freewheeling debate on matters of public interest,” Mr. Justice Ian Binnie said.
Judge Binnie said that the key to a defence of honest belief – particularly in an era when extravagant overstatement is common – should lie in whether an honest person could have held the same opinion. Globe & Mail
Even way over here in
While I personally try to avoid inflammatory language I’m sure I cross the line into potential defamation at times. It is the nature of passionate commentary. In a world increasingly monstered by mindless litigation it is heartening to have a clear and sensible precedent if I am ever called.
LINK to the finding WIC Radio Ltd. v. Simpson