A Canadian court has found that Toronto’s National Post libeled a climate scientist named Andrew Weaver. The paper and several of its writers and editors will be responsible for paying Weaver C$50,000 (about US$39,500) and removing all the libelous pieces from its site, as well as notifying anyone who has republished them. But by quickly removing further libelous comments left by its readers in response to the article, the National Post avoided being held responsible for those as well.
In contrast to US law, the Canadian legal standard for libel is simply that statements must be inaccurate (not “based on facts truly stated”), and they must “tend to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person.” Put another way by the judge in this case, “While the Supreme Court of Canada is clear about the critical importance of free speech, as noted earlier, this does not provide a roadmap to the individual’s reputation as a ‘regrettable but unavoidable road kill on the highway of public controversy.'”
Compared to the statements that prompted a US libel suit by climate scientist Mike Mann, the National Post’s articles are quite mild (Mann was compared to a convicted child molester). And the material is standard fare on a variety of sites rum by people skeptical of the scientific establishment, claiming that he manipulated data to make a case for climate change, that he was profiting from the resulting grants, that he was jumping from the sinking ship that is the IPCC, that he saw fossil-fuel-industry conspiracies everywhere, and so on.
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