This week, the Ontario Superior Court awarded $2.5 million to the owner of Paramount Fine Foods after the restaurateur sued FreedomReport.ca and its owner for defamation. 
In 2017, the defendant posted several videos on his online platform FreedomReport.ca that made false accusations about Paramount restaurant and its owner. The defendant wrongfully accused Paramount of being a venue for terrorist discussion, claiming that the restaurant only admitted “Jihadists” and rapists and that the restaurant owner funded terrorists. . The videos included an altered image of the plaintiff to appear as though he were splattered with blood. 
Justice Ferguson ruled that the defendant’s impugned expression met all three elements of the defamation test: (1) they were posted online and therefore reached thousands of people across the world; (2) they specifically targeted the plaintiff, and (3) the remarks that the plaintiff is a “terrorist” and “rapist” would tend to lower the reputation of the plaintiff in the eyes of a reasonable person. 
The court reiterated that the defendant’s statements “shared all the essential hallmarks and attributes of an expression that is not worthy of protection.” .
The defendant argued that his impugned statements were protected by the freedom of expression right under s.2(b) of the Charter.  However, the Charter does not apply to litigation between private parties and the courts have already taken the freedom of expression right into consideration when defining the law of defamation. 
The court clarified that even if the Charter did apply, it does not protect “violent and threatening expression”.  The court noted the defendant has a history of inciting violence against Muslims and has made several statements threatening the restaurant owner .
Justice Ferguson cited the Supreme Court in Keegstra while reiterating that hate speech runs contrary to freedom of expression because it silences those who are the targets of hateful remarks. 
This blog post was written by a CCLA summer law volunteer. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA.
 Paramount v Kevin J Johnston, 2019 ONSC 2910 at para 92.
 Ibid at para 19.
 Ibid at para 20.
 Ibid at para 51.
 Ibid at para 53.
 Ibid at para 62.
 Ibid at para 63.
 Ibid at para 64.