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Conservative website shuttered after libel ruling [Free Dominion]
Ottawa Citizen ^ | January 28, 2014 | Andrew Duffy

Posted on 01/29/2014 7:14:41 AM PST by conniew

Conservative website shuttered after libel ruling

Ottawa lawyer Richard Warman wins long-running legal battle

By Andrew Duffy, OTTAWA CITIZEN January 28, 2014

OTTAWA — The online political forum, Free Dominion, has shut down after a wholesale defeat in a libel case brought by Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman.

A jury concluded that Warman was maliciously defamed by four commentators on Free Dominion, a website that bills itself as “the voice of principled conservatism.”

Warman has been awarded more than $127,000 in general damages, aggravated damages, punitive damages and court costs because of 41 defamatory statements published on the conservative website in 2007.

Warman rose to prominence during the past decade by using the Canadian Human Rights Act to shut down the websites of people spreading hate speech; it made him the target of free speech advocates in the conservative blogosphere, and on websites such as Free Dominion.

In a recently released decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith granted Warman a permanent injunction that prohibits Free Dominion from ever repeating “in any manner whatsoever” any of the 41 defamations.

The website’s operators, Connie and Mark Fournier, of Kingston, this week shut down freedominion.ca, saying they could not control what comments other people posted.

“By leaving the forum open and allowing people to comment, we’d be opening ourselves to a contempt-of-court charge,” Connie Fournier said Tuesday.

“If someone repeated one of those comments, we would be in trouble — and could even go to jail.”

The Fourniers have operated the website as a “labour of love” for the past 13 years.

“It’s really sad to be at the point where we have to shut down the political forum,” she said. “But we’ve come to the point where it would be crazy for us to keep it open: it would be too much of a risk.”

They have vowed to appeal the defamation case and have launched a campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise money for their legal costs. The campaign has so far raised $2,800 of its $25,000 goal.

The Warman case is among the first to address at trial what constitutes defamation in the caustic political blogosphere. It adds to case law that suggests the Internet does not shield anonymous posters from legal action if they wrongfully attack someone’s reputation.

On his website, Warman said the case offers lessons for anyone involved in an Internet blog or forum. Chief among them, he said, is the idea that “If you make a mistake, admit it, repair the harm, and move on.”

Connie Fournier, however, said that if the case stands on appeal it will impair the once vibrant Canadian blogosphere.

“I think this is a terrible thing for free speech on the Internet,” she said. “When people who are allowing comments on their blogs and forums look at humongous costs and damage rulings like this, at injunctions that could put them in jail, they’re not going to want to take the risk of opening their site.”

The jury found that the four defendants — Roger Smith, Jason Bertucci, Connie and Mark Fournier — had been “malicious, high-handed and oppressive” in their conduct. Justice Smith also found the defendants had acted unreasonably by refusing to accept Warman’s offer to settle the case for $5,000 each.

Warman had to fight in court to obtain the identifies of those anonymous posters who had left defamatory comments on Free Dominion. The case dragged on for six years, culminating in a three-week trial before a six-person jury.

The Fourniers have never apologized or issued a retraction about the statements found to be defamatory.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Breaking News; Canada; Constitution/Conservatism; Free Republic; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: anonymous; canada; canadahumanrights; censorship; defamation; freedominion; freespeech; libel; moralabsolutes; posters; richardwarman; tyranny; unfreedominion
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1 posted on 01/29/2014 7:14:41 AM PST by conniew
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To: conniew
I remember them from years ago ... completely forgot about 'em 'til today.

shame

2 posted on 01/29/2014 7:16:00 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: conniew

Very sorry to learn of this Connie.

Please continue to contribute on this site (you and Mark).

Best regards,

‘Pod.


3 posted on 01/29/2014 7:16:31 AM PST by sauropod (Fat Bottomed Girl: "What difference, at this point, does it make?")
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To: conniew

pretty effing sad situation


4 posted on 01/29/2014 7:16:54 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: conniew
The jury now has to face the judgment and rebuke of the LORD for their unjust ruling.
5 posted on 01/29/2014 7:18:10 AM PST by Olog-hai
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To: conniew

Kanukistan. Poor buggers.


6 posted on 01/29/2014 7:18:58 AM PST by Lion Den Dan
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To: conniew

So much for thinking CA is just like the USA except for having to add “eh?” at the end of sentences. Guess that old saw about the interdependency of the rights delineated in the Bill of Rights is actually spot on.


7 posted on 01/29/2014 7:19:09 AM PST by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: knarf

I didn’t forget about them. They have been in my thoughts.

So I guess FaceBook, Twitter, all the newspapers, and all the other places that allow people to speak their mind are now subject to this ruling. (Actually, I realize this is Canada, but these internet sites can be accessed from Canada, so they can be taken into court too.)

This is complete B. S. It’s merely designed to quash Conservative contribution to the public debate. I’ll bet this guy is a real douche bag.


8 posted on 01/29/2014 7:19:16 AM PST by DoughtyOne (AMNESTY is job none...)
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To: yldstrk
It's getting to the point normal people can not speak publically.

The only ones sanctioned are 'connected' ...

Being connected requires kneepads.

You can bring your own or purchase what you need at the commisary.

9 posted on 01/29/2014 7:19:53 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: conniew

I’d love to read what these “malicious, high-handed and oppressive” statements were.


10 posted on 01/29/2014 7:19:57 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell)
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To: conniew

WHOA! Thanks for being/posting here, connie. BTTT!


11 posted on 01/29/2014 7:20:17 AM PST by PGalt
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To: Lion Den Dan

You think it’s not going to eventually happen here?


12 posted on 01/29/2014 7:20:44 AM PST by dfwgator
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To: sauropod

We will contribute here! We are coming back to our roots. It was an interesting experiment to see if a FR-style board could exist in Canada.

I guess we have our answer.


13 posted on 01/29/2014 7:22:01 AM PST by conniew
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To: dfwgator

Just a matter of when!


14 posted on 01/29/2014 7:22:48 AM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: conniew

bkmk


15 posted on 01/29/2014 7:23:21 AM PST by Faith65 (Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!)
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To: conniew

I would say let them reopen in a country where free speech is allowed, but I am not sure where that would be anymore.


16 posted on 01/29/2014 7:23:35 AM PST by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: dfwgator
Only if the Socialist Democrats succeed in repealing the 2nd Amendment,
then the 1st. A battle they will never win.
17 posted on 01/29/2014 7:23:41 AM PST by MaxMax (Pay Attention and you'll be pissed off too! FIRE BOEHNER, NOW!)
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To: T-Bird45
What you have on display here is the key difference between a nation that had to win their independence through blood and toil and one which had their independence handed to them.

Never forget that, nor forget that we are not far from going down the same road if we continue to buy tyranny by the drink.

18 posted on 01/29/2014 7:24:45 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: sauropod

One of the main issues in this case was that of liability of forum owners in Canada. If someone anonymously posts a comment on your forum that is later deemed to be defamatory, as the forum operator you walk into court assumed to be guilty, malicious and damages against the plaintiff are assumed. To make matters worse, as the forum operators, the defenses of fair comment and honestly held belief are not available to you. As part of the sentence for our horrible crime of allowing people to post their political opinions, we have now been barred by the court from ever operating a forum or blog where the public can post comments, for the rest of our lives.

Accusation equals guilt and there is no defense, even though you did not author the words yourself.

In Ontario, defamation is anything that is remotely negative about someone.


19 posted on 01/29/2014 7:24:56 AM PST by Entropy Squared (The Rush to Chaos)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
I’d love to read what these “malicious, high-handed and oppressive” statements were.

If we post them here we will go to prison.

20 posted on 01/29/2014 7:26:22 AM PST by Entropy Squared (The Rush to Chaos)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

“...malicious, high handed and oppressive statements...”

IOW, the truth.


21 posted on 01/29/2014 7:26:33 AM PST by twister881
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To: Entropy Squared

Mark Steyn wrote about this the other day. We were very grateful for his supportive words because, at that point, nobody in our media had said anything at all.

Midway down the page here: http://www.steynonline.com/6049/slapp-the-week

The comments were closed on the Ottawa Citizen article. Everyone is terrified.


22 posted on 01/29/2014 7:31:39 AM PST by conniew
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To: FReepers
It's What Liberals Do To Opposition


Click The Pic To Donate

Support FR, Donate Monthly If You Can

23 posted on 01/29/2014 7:34:43 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
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To: conniew

Did the “defamation” consist of speaking the truth about the complainant?


24 posted on 01/29/2014 7:36:15 AM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: conniew

“maliciously defamed”

For exposing the TRUTH?!!?


25 posted on 01/29/2014 7:39:19 AM PST by G Larry
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To: JimRed

Like Mark said, we will literally go to prison for contempt of court if we repeat the actual comments.

But, I can say that it was negative commentary on the activities of a public servant, and it was not unlike any political comments you would find in any forum anywhere on the internet.


26 posted on 01/29/2014 7:40:21 AM PST by conniew
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To: Entropy Squared

wow...now I really believe Canada SUX.


27 posted on 01/29/2014 7:46:36 AM PST by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: conniew

my gosh, I just read it. It sounds like complete and utter madness! Let’s just shut down the entire internet because someone might actually say something!


28 posted on 01/29/2014 7:50:29 AM PST by midnightcat
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To: conniew; All

BTTT


29 posted on 01/29/2014 7:56:31 AM PST by backhoe (Just a Merry-Hearted Keyboard PirateBoy, Plunderin' his way across the Internet....)
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To: conniew

What do leftist message boards do up there? Are all messages on all boards moderated before publishing?


30 posted on 01/29/2014 7:57:00 AM PST by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: conniew

This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. Not good. Not good at all.


31 posted on 01/29/2014 7:57:53 AM PST by Pajamajan (Pray for our nation. Thank the Lord for everything you have. Don't wait. Do it today.)
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To: conniew; Entropy Squared

Thanks for fighting the good fight...

What a damned shame...

Bookmark


32 posted on 01/29/2014 8:00:37 AM PST by JDoutrider
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To: conniew

This assclown made himself a public figure. In the US, proving libel against a public figure is difficult, and requires either “actual malice” or wanton and willful disregard for veracity. And in both cases, truth is an absolute defense.


33 posted on 01/29/2014 8:01:55 AM PST by IronJack
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To: conniew
Like Mark said, we will literally go to prison for contempt of court if we repeat the actual comments. . .

Well, come on down across that border! We're in this together. Patriots gather wherever there's a free beacon.

34 posted on 01/29/2014 8:02:13 AM PST by SamuraiScot
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To: conniew
The Briefing Room... We Stand With Free Dominion
35 posted on 01/29/2014 8:03:33 AM PST by mystery-ak (gopbriefingroom.com)
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To: midnightcat

ANYTHING negative is considered to be defamatory under Ontario defamation law.

One of the posts that was held against us was by an anonymous poster who used a made-up word from South Park.


36 posted on 01/29/2014 8:03:38 AM PST by conniew
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To: Entropy Squared
Man, sorry to hear about this old friend. I can imagine the strain this places on you and your family. Good luck on your appeal, though I wouldn't expect much relief from the courts.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, eh. 8)

37 posted on 01/29/2014 8:06:44 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: mystery-ak

Thank you. We’re touched. :-)


38 posted on 01/29/2014 8:13:04 AM PST by conniew
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To: conniew

Are there any alternative options or workarounds available to get you up and running again?

Like bringing your forum back up on an offshore located server(s)? Somewhere that the Canadian Gvt has no jurisdiction? Or because the forum owners (you) are Canadian nationals would the legal system there still be able to restrict or otherwise prevent you from having such a site?


39 posted on 01/29/2014 8:17:48 AM PST by tanknetter
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To: conniew
A jury concluded that Warman was maliciously defamed by four commentators on Free Dominion,

You've got to be kidding me. Every site in the world could be prosecuted for the same thing.

For those who don't know Free Dominion is our sister site up north. They've bailed us out when we've had server issues.

40 posted on 01/29/2014 8:23:07 AM PST by McGruff (I'm a conservative. Not necessarily a republican.)
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To: tanknetter
"Are there any alternative options or workarounds available to get you up and running again? Like bringing your forum back up on an offshore located server(s)? Somewhere that the Canadian Gvt has no jurisdiction? Or because the forum owners (you) are Canadian nationals would the legal system there still be able to restrict or otherwise prevent you from having such a site?"

The server is already located in Panama, but it doesn't help us because the injunction is against us, personally. All we can do is appeal.

41 posted on 01/29/2014 8:28:17 AM PST by conniew
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To: conniew

I am sorry that free speech is dead in Canada. We need to redouble our efforts to keep it alive in the US.


42 posted on 01/29/2014 8:28:24 AM PST by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: Vigilanteman

Up here in Loonielefturdia, the facists install laws when they are elected and use these facist regulations to impose their intolerant anti freedom bigotted agenda. They fool the foolish useful idiots in the mindless grazing herd into voting for them. This has always been the way the enemies of justice and freedom have gained control historically. The same pos are trying it in the USA...know this and be cautious. The USA is the greatest nation in the world and if it falls, every other will fall.


43 posted on 01/29/2014 8:30:08 AM PST by Edward Kennedy (Common sense is not so common in most, but non existent totally in lieberals.)
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To: conniew
“The server is already located in Panama, but it doesn't help us because the injunction is against us, personally. All we can do is appeal.”

The risk is obviously too great for you personally to resurrect Free Dominion, but maybe someday an American or other non-Canadian subject will take up the mantel.

People always say how nice the Canadians are, and I have always found that to be true. But news like this makes me wonder how much of is born of fear. That makes it not so nice.

44 posted on 01/29/2014 8:38:14 AM PST by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: beef
I am sorry that free speech is dead in Canada. We need to redouble our efforts to keep it alive in the US.

It is, indeed, dead.

Other than that one Ottawa Citizen article, our media won't even go near this story! If anyone here has connections in the US conservative media and you wouldn't mind passing this story along, we'd really appreciate it.

Since we no longer have a website and everyone else is terrified, it makes it very difficult for us to get our side of the story out there.

45 posted on 01/29/2014 8:46:40 AM PST by conniew
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To: conniew
"you wouldn't mind passing this story along"

Submitted to Drudge.

46 posted on 01/29/2014 8:51:01 AM PST by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: T-Bird45

So much for thinking CA is just like the USA

_________________

We’re next


47 posted on 01/29/2014 8:51:19 AM PST by Chickensoup (V)
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To: dfwgator

It is already here. I think it is starting with the bakers and D’Souza (sp).


48 posted on 01/29/2014 8:58:28 AM PST by Lion Den Dan
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To: beef

Thank you!!


49 posted on 01/29/2014 9:00:07 AM PST by conniew
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To: conniew

Liberals shutting down free speech.


50 posted on 01/29/2014 9:00:12 AM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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