Monday, January 19, 2015

Ezra Levant ordered to pay $80,000 in libel suit

By Joseph Brean, Postmedia News: In his blogging about Canada's hate speech laws, rightwing personality Ezra Levant defamed a young law student as a serial liar, a bigot and a Jew-hating "illiberal Islamic fascist," bent on destroying Canada's tradition of free expression, a judge has found.
For these unfair, false and "extremely serious" written comments, which were motivated by "ill will," and showed a "reckless disregard for the truth," Levant must pay Khurrum Awan $80,000, Judge Wendy Matheson of Ontario Superior Court ruled Thursday.
Awan is now a lawyer in Saskatchewan, but in 2007 he was the public face of a campaign to protest the representation of Muslims in Maclean's magazine. This led to three failed human rights complaints and spurred Canada's first online culture war over the hate speech section of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The judge rejected the argument of Iain MacKinnon, Levant's lawyer, that readers of his blog would not take his comments "at face value" because they would be "well aware of Mr. Levant's penchant to stir controversy and make outlandish comments."
She ordered Levant to remove the posts from his website within 15 days - they have been posted there for years - and pay Awan $50,000 in general damages plus $30,000 in aggravated damages.
"Mr. Awan is very pleased with the decision and is grateful that at long last he has been vindicated," said his lawyer, Brian Shiller.
Levant called the ruling "very troubling" and said he felt compelled to appeal. "This is a shocking case of libel chill that should concern any Canadian who is worried about radical Islam, and the right to call out anti-Semitism in the public square," he said.

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