Madame Justice Heidi Polowin has rendered her decision in Baglow v. Smith et al (Free Dominion) .
It is a long, closely argued, decision – 62 pages – ending in a win for Free Dominion on fair comment grounds. I suspect it will join Grant as one of the critical decisions advancing Canadian defamation law into the post Charter, internet age.
I want to read it at leisure but two things are striking: first, the judge has decided that each side shall bear its own costs – which mean Connie and Mark still need your donations. Second, and I have not seen this in a decision that I can recall, Polowin, J. ends her judgement with these words:
“Finally, I thank all involved for their assistance and thoughtful submissions.”
Connie, Mark, Roger Smith and Dr. Dawg should never have let this matter get to Court. But it did and as a result, and at great cost to all of the parties, we now have a roadmap for online conduct. The defence of fair comment has been slightly extended and the question of “context” driving the meaning of particular words considered.
I am delighted that Free Dominion won and the win was well deserved. But it was a damned close run thing.