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2005 January 14
Wiebe v Bouchard, 2005 BCSC 47
Alleged Cyber Libel: Website posting
Non-Internet Defamation Also Alleged: Yes – printed matter
Canadian court has jurisdiction? Yes
Canadian court should decline jurisdiction? No
The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a defamation claim “based on information which was placed on a website by the Government of Canada and the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Canada …which in turn, was a translation of a report prepared by the defendant Bouchard [a professor at Laval University, Québec] with the assistance of the defendants Boily and Proulx …”
copies of the report were also available in the main library public library in
The Court also concluded that it is the appropriate forum to hear the plaintiff’s action.
The Alleged Defamation
In pursuance of her research goals,
the defendant Bouchard became aware of an entire network of “Internet sites
dealing with men’s and father’s causes”.
She deposed that this discovery revealed a social phenomenon “very much
unknown to both the
|6.||As a result of this research, she located the B.C. Father’s Website, and the heading “Why don’t we call it femi-Nazism which purported, according to the defendant Bouchard, to list thirty alleged similarities between feminism and early Nazism. In addition, the website displayed a swastika with extra bars to each of the four branches of the swastika which might be construed as the initials “F”. …|
Court noted that Bouchard’s criticism of the” B.C. Father’s Website” and the
language used in the course of that criticism is the basis upon which the
plaintiff alleges he has been defamed and his reputation in the Province of
The individual defendants Boily and Proulx were research assistants who were involved in the preparation of the Bouchard report.
Bouchard’s motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds
Bouchard, Boily and Proulx sought an order that the Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the action, or alternatively, an order that the Court decline jurisdiction on the basis the British Columbia Supreme Court is not the forum conveniens.
defendants Government of Canada and The Minister Responsible for the Status of
Women Canada took no position on the application except to say the action
should not be divided into two parts; one involving a trial in
Court considered that it was relevant to the existence of jurisdiction that “the topics discussed [in the report] were of
national, and perhaps international importance…It was
a report prepared for the Status of Women
As to the place of publication, the Court stated [at para 21] that in the case before it, “the alleged offending words were published nationwide.”
Note: It is unclear from the Reasons for Judgment of
this Court what evidence supported this conclusion. Did the Court assume that simply placing
material on the Website constituted publication? There is no express finding in the judgment,
for example, that anyone in
The Court noted that British Columbia’s common law differs from the law of Quebec, which is governed by the Quebec Civil Code., referring in this regard to Prud’homme v Prud’homme (2002), 221 D.L.R. (4th) 115 (SCC).
part because Bouchard herself agreed that the subject matter of her report was
of national and international importance, the Court concluded that
|…The personal defendants, as well as
any other witnesses they wish to call, are able to come to British Columbia on
their own behalf, or at the behest of the corporate defendants, to testify as
to the socio-economic conditions in the Province of Quebec, and what impact, if
any, the article would have in that community in terms of fair comment. Nevertheless, in my view, the defence of fair
comment must relate to the actions of the personal defendants at the location
where the alleged defamatory material was published and where it created the
harm. In other words,
Although the Court does not advert in its Reason for Judgment to Imagis Technologies v Red Herring et al, 2003 BCSC 366, similar reasoning was employed in Imagis where the Court rejected defence submissions that a plaintiff should be obliged to sue in a jurisdiction that has a connection to the cause of action where the law may be most favourable to the defendants.
See McConchie and Potts, Canadian Libel and Slander Actions, “Where did the wrong take place?” - page 156.
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