3.68: Court options to deal with significant deficiencies

Case Summary

This case involved a claim for defamation against a former mayoral candidate. The Plaintiffs sought a permanent Injunction restraining the Defendant from making defamatory statements, along with an award for damages.

An interim Injunction had been granted by then Associate Chief Justice Rooke pursuant to a prior ex parte Application. The Defendant was subsequently found in default for not filing a Statement of Defence. An Application for Default Judgment was made, and that Application was set down for a Special Chambers Application.

As part of his argument at the Special Chambers Hearing, the Defendant claimed that the lawsuit was barred because it amounted to a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”). He argued that such Actions are barred under the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015, SO 2015. Justice Feasby held that this legislation had no bearing on the present Action, given the jurisdiction, and that no similar legislation existed in Alberta. However, he considered whether the Court ought to exercise its discretion to dismiss the claim as an abuse of process pursuant to Rule 3.68.

Justice Feasby weighed the public interest in protecting the Defendant’s freedom of expression against the public interest in allowing the Action to continue. He found that the latter outweighed the former. The comments of the Defendant placed the individual Plaintiff and her family in the public spotlight and turned them into the subject of public ridicule. Further, given that the Defendant was already noted in Default, it was established that he had no defence. It was therefore found that the individual Plaintiff’s claim was not an abuse of process.

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