Innes Statement Of Claim
Court File No.
SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE
B E T W E E N:
- and -
JUSTIN PIERRE JAMES TRUDEAU and DAVID MACNAUGHTON
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
TO THE DEFENDANTS:
A LEGAL PROCEEDING HAS BEEN COMMENCED AGAINST YOU by the plaintiff. The claim made against you is set out in the following pages.
IF YOU WISH TO DEFEND THIS PROCEEDING, you or an Ontario lawyer acting for you must prepare a statement of defence in Form 18A prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure, serve it on the plaintiff’s lawyer or, where the plaintiff does not have a lawyer, serve it on the plaintiff, and file it, with proof of service, in this court office, WITHIN TWENTY DAYS after this statement of claim is served on you, if you are served in Ontario.
If you are served in another province or territory of Canada or in the United States of America, the period for serving and filing your statement of defence is forty days. If you are served outside Canada and the United States of America, the period is sixty days.
Instead of serving and filing a statement of defence, you may serve and file a notice of intent to defend in Form 18B prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure. This will entitle you to ten more days within which to serve and file your statement of defence.
IF YOU FAIL TO DEFEND THIS PROCEEDING, JUDGMENT MAY BE GIVEN AGAINST YOU IN YOUR ABSENCE AND WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO YOU. IF YOU WISH TO DEFEND THIS PROCEEDING BUT ARE UNABLE TO PAY LEGAL FEES, LEGAL AID MAY BE AVAILABLE TO YOU BY CONTACTING A LOCAL LEGAL AID OFFICE.
Date April 14, 2014 Issued by ______________________________
Address of court office Superior Court of Justice 393 University Ave., 10th Floor Toronto, ON M5G 1E6
TO: JUSTIN PIERRE JAMES TRUDEAU
Liberal Party of Canada
81 Metcalfe Street, Suite 600
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6M8
AND TO: DAVID MACNAUGHTON
145 King Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5C 2Y7
1. The plaintiff claims:
(a) damages for libel and slander in the amount of $1,000,000;
(b) punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages in the amount of $500,000;
(c) pre-judgment and post-judgment interest in accordance with the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43;
(d) costs of this action on a substantial-indemnity basis inclusive of H.S.T.; and
(e) such further and other relief as this Court may deem just.
2. The plaintiff, Christine Innes (“Innes”), is a lawyer, a community leader and a member of the Liberal Party of Canada (the “LPC”). She resides in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario.
3. The defendant, Justin Pierre James Trudeau (“Trudeau”), is the leader of the LPC and resides in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario.
4. The defendant, David MacNaughton (“MacNaughton”), is the Liberal National Election Readiness Co-Chair for Ontario and resides in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario.
5. The defendants and other senior LPC officials had a dilemma. As the leader of the LPC, Trudeau had publicly vowed that, unlike his predecessors, he would not interfere in the selection
of candidates by local riding associations. The promise of “open, transparent and fair” nominations was an essential part of Trudeau’s image as a progressive leader of the LPC.
6. When it came to the redistributed ridings in downtown Toronto, however, this promise proved to be inconvenient. The defendants and LPC officials had specific candidates in mind for several of the redistributed ridings for the 2015 General Election (the “2015 General Election”). They were concerned, however, that in one the redistributed ridings, their preferred candidate would not have the backing of sufficient members of the riding association in 2015. The defendants and other senior LPC leaders were bothered that Innes could win that local nomination over their preferred candidate. They did not want this to happen; on the other hand, they could not be seen to be meddling in local riding politics.
7. To resolve the dilemma, they hatched a plan that would help their preferred candidate win the nomination for the 2015 General Election with minimal backlash. They proposed to “green-light” Innes as the LPC candidate in an expected 2014 by-election in the existing riding of Trinity-Spadina, but only if she committed in writing to seek the nomination in a riding in the 2015 General Election as directed by them once federal redistribution was completed. This would clear the way for their preferred candidate in the re-distributed riding.
8. Less than three days after Innes refused the backroom deal on principle, the defendants launched a full-scale character attack on her. They accused her and her campaign team in the national media of “bullying,” “intimidation” and other unethical conduct. The defendants knew the accusations were false and that they would destroy Innes’ reputation. They published the false allegations, and repeated them frequently, in order to create a smoke-screen for the backroom decision to pave the way for their preferred candidate for the 2015 General Election, contrary to Trudeau’s promise of non-interference.
9. The false accusations have destroyed Innes’ political career, irreparably damaged her political, professional and personal reputation, and caused severe emotional suffering.
10. Innes has been an active and loyal member of the LPC for more than 35 years. In addition to running as the LPC candidate in the Trinity-Spadina riding in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections, she served as Co-Chair of the 2013 LPC Leadership Convention that elected Trudeau as Leader. Before that, Innes had served in various leadership roles on numerous local campaigns, as an Executive member of several riding Associations and as speaker on behalf of LPC for campaign training seminars from time to time.
11. On March 12, 2014, Olivia Chow (“Chow”), the Member of Parliament for the Trinity-Spadina riding, resigned and announced her seat for the mayoralty of Toronto. A by-election to replace her as MP (the “By-election”) must be called within six months of her resignation date.
12. Chow’s resignation was highly anticipated and Innes had been preparing for the By-election since 2013. It was widely known within the LPC and the Trinity-Spadina riding that Innes would be seeking the LPC nomination for the By-election. Her hard work, recruitment of new members to the LPC and community engagement were widely respected. As of March 13, 2014, no one else had come forward to seek the nomination for the By-election. Up until that time, Innes had been given every indication by LPC officials that she would be an accepted candidate for the open nomination for the By-election.
13. The By-election is to be fought within the current boundaries of the Trinity-Spadina riding. However, the Trinity-Spadina riding is being redistributed into essentially two ridings for the 2015 General Election to be held in October of 2015. In the 2015 General Election, the
bottom half of the current Trinity-Spadina riding will, for the most part, become the new riding of Spadina-Fort York. The top half of the current Trinity-Spadina riding will become two-thirds of the new riding of University-Rosedale. The other third of the new riding of University-Rosedale will come from the current riding of Toronto-Centre. A smaller version of the riding of Toronto-Centre will continue to exist after redistribution.
14. The current MP for the existing riding of Toronto-Centre is a Liberal who was elected on November 25, 2013 in a by-election.
15. The LPC leadership had decided they wanted the newly-elected MP for Toronto-Centre to move from Toronto-Centre and run in the new riding of University-Rosedale (of which two-thirds will come from the current riding of Trinity -Spadina) in the 2015 General Election. The 2013 Toronto-Centre nomination and by-election, which the MP had recently won, necessitated considerable intervention from the LPC leadership. The LPC leadership wanted Innes to run in the new riding of Spadina-Fort York in the 2015 General Election in order to pave the way for the MP.
16. In campaigning for the LPC Leadership in 2013, Trudeau pledged to allow free, open and transparent nomination processes that would allow local riding associations to elect their choice of candidate to run as the Liberal candidate in their ridings. He promised that every candidate, including himself, would have to contest and win a fair and open nomination process. This was a centerpiece of his campaign to the LPC and a core message to the public at large.
17. This presented a problem for the defendants and LPC officials. They did not want anyone to know that contrary to Trudeau’s public pledge for open, transparent and fair nominations, they were actively planning to allocate and assign individuals to ridings, regardless of whom the local membership might actually support.
18. Innes confirmed she was willing to consider running in the new riding of Spadina-Fort York in the 2015 General Election, but she was not prepared to make a final decision until after the By-election. This was due in part to Innes’ belief in Trudeau’s commitment to open, fair and transparent nominations. In addition, it was widely believed that to commit to such a decision before the By-election could severely compromise her and the LPC’s chance of winning in the By-election.
19. MacNaughton had agreed up until March 7, 2014 that it was important to halt all nomination activities in the two new ridings for the 2015 General Election (University-Rosedale and Spadina-Fort York), as well as the riding of Toronto-Centre which would continue to exist for the 2015 General Election until after the By-election.
20. On March 4, 2014, MacNaughton asked Innes and a representative on her behalf to start drafting language to give effect to placing a pause on all nomination activities in the three ridings refererred to in paragraph 19 above that would be acceptable to those from whom MacNaughton took direction.
21. In the morning of March 7, 2014, MacNaughton contacted Innes to say he would have a “suggested path forward” to “move forward in [a] constructive and productive way” by the end of the day.
22. When MacNaughton further contacted Innes on March 7, 2014, he informed Innes, without notice or discussion, that she would be required to sign a Party document entitled “Form 12.” Form 12 represented a complete departure from the conversation MacNaughton had had with Innes only 3 day earlier. The existence of a Form 12 document was unknown to Innes before that day. Form 12 stated that the LPC’s approval of Innes as a nomination candidate for
the By-election was solely conditional upon her seeking the nomination for the 2015 General Election in a district to be directed by the National Campaign Co-Chairs.
23. Innes informed MacNaughton that, as they had previously discussed, it would be hypocritical to campaign in the Trinity-Spadina riding without disclosing to the electorate that she might (and indeed likely would) be directed to run elsewhere in the 2015 General Election. Innes also pointed out that the request contravened Trudeau’s vow of non-interference and open, transparent nominations. Despite Innes’ remonstrations, MacNaughton remained steadfast that Innes sign Form 12.
24. When Innes attempted to determine where Form 12 originated, the LPC office offered no clarification.
25. On March 10, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., Innes informed MacNaughton that she could not sign Form 12 on principle, as the form was inconsistent with the commitment to open, fair and transparent nominations and amounted to a backroom deal.
26. Less than three days later, on March 13, 2014, the defendants launched a full-scale character attack on Innes. MacNaughton informed Innes via email (the “March 13 email”) that the LPC leadership had barred her from running in the By-election and in the 2015 General Election.
27. The March 13 email stated, “not only did you dismiss [Form 12] … but your campaign began to use intimidation and bullying on young volunteers.” He further alleged that Innes’ team had disparaged another LPC member. Innes immediately denied the allegations and reminded MacNaughton that such unfounded accusations ran counter to her long history of mentoring and recruiting young Liberals and her reputation as a team player within the LPC.
28. At the same time, without warning to Innes, MacNaughton leaked the false allegations of “bullying,” “intimidation” and other unethical conduct to the national media. He knew the accusations would destroy Innes’ reputation.
29. The defendants deliberately sacrificed Innes’ reputation in order to create a smoke-screen to shield Trudeau from public outcry for breaching his public vow of non-interference in local riding nominations.
MacNaughton’s Communication with the Canadian Press
30. On March 13, 2013, MacNaughton (at the behest of the LPC leadership) sent the March 13 email to Canadian Press reporter, Joan Bryden (“Bryden”), and proceeded to further malign Innes and her campaign in an interview with Bryden. By forwarding the email and responding to the questions, MacNaughton intentionally or recklessly published the following false, defamatory and malicious comments about Innes without regard to the truth or falsity of their contents:
From the interview:
(a) “Barring Innes is intended to send a message to all Liberals. We’re not going back to the days of the Hatfields and the McCoys in the Liberal party.”
(b) “We all know where this comes from and it’s not inconsistent with previous behavior.”
(c) “Nor does it mean the party has to tolerate a situation in which the candidate who is left standing is the one who can browbeat and intimidate enough people into showing up (to vote).”
(d) “We’ve recruited thousands of new people to the party and if this is their first experience, it will certainly turn them off.”
From the email:
(a) “Not only did you reject this solution out of hand but your campaign team began to use intimidation and bullying on young volunteers.”
(b) “Derogatory remarks were made to several young, enthusiastic Liberals about one of our leading MP’s. Suggestions were made to volunteers that their future in the Liberal party would be in jeopardy if they were on the ‘wrong side’ in a nomination battle.”
31. The above comments were published on the website of the National Post (http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/13/trudeau-bans-ex-liberal-cabinet-ministers-wife-from-running-in-chows-former-riding-over-bullying-complaints/) in an article authored by Bryden titled, “Trudeau bans ex-Liberal cabinet minister’s wife from running in Chow’s former riding over bullying complaints.” The story was immediately and widely circulated in other national, regional and local media.
32. These libellous comments, in their plain and ordinary meaning, including their implied meanings, meant, were intended to mean, and were understood to mean:
(a) Innes and her campaign made derogatory remarks to several young Liberals.
(b) Innes and her campaign threatened young Liberals in an attempt to get support in the nomination process.
(c) Innes and her campaign team bullied and intimidated young volunteers.
(d) Innes and her campaign team had engaged in bullying and intimidation in the past.
(e) Innes has browbeaten and intimidated enough people into showing up to vote for her. Innes is the “candidate” MacNaughton is referring to in the context of discussing “browbeating.”
(f) Innes used unethical means to attempt to secure the nomination in the Trinity-Spadina riding.
(g) Innes and her campaign engaged in behaviour that is discouraging people from engaging in politics.
(h) Innes undid the work the LPC had done to recruit more people into the LPC.
(i) Innes condoned bullying and intimidation by members of her campaign team.
33. The comments referred to in paragraph 30 were made maliciously and were intended to be read by as many people as possible.
34. The email was shared and the comments were made to the Canadian Press as part of a plan by the defendants to malign and discredit Innes within the LPC, the Trinity-Spadina riding and the entire Canadian public. This defamation served as a smokescreen to justify the banning of Innes from running as a candidate in the Trinity-Spadina riding, contrary to the pledge of non-interference in local ridings, and in furtherance of the defendants’ personal and political objectives.
MacNaughton’s Anonymous Communication with The Globe and Mail
35. On March 13 (the same day as he libelled Innes to the Canadian Press), MacNaughton spoke to reporters from The Globe and Mail in order to further defame Innes at the behest of the LPC leadership. This time, however, he hid his identity. His defamatory comments were printed in an article by Adam Radwanski and Daniel Leblanc in The Globe and Mail on March 13
entitled “Liberal candidate denies running ‘bullying’ campaign after Trudeau blocks her candidacy” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trudeau-blocks-candidacy-of-ex-mps-wife-over-bullying-complaints/article17478438/). The article quotes an anonymous “party official” as stating the following:
(a) “the only reason that she is not going to be a candidate is because of the way her campaign was acting.”
(b) “Ms. Innes was told previously about complaints from Liberals in the riding of bullying by her campaign, but warnings went unheeded.”
36. The first comment was reprinted in a story by Gloria Galloway in The Globe and Mail published on March 17 entitled “Former candidate denies Liberals’ bullying allegations; Zach Paikin drops bid” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ex-liberal-candidate-denies-bullying-allegations-zach-paikin-drops-bid/article17524761/)
37. These libellous comments, in their plain and ordinary meaning, including their implied meanings, meant, were intended to mean, and were understood to mean:
(a) Innes and her campaign team engaged in bullying.
(b) Innes condoned bullying and intimidation by members of her campaign team.
(c) Innes received particularized warnings about her campaign team “bullying” and ignored them.
(d) There was no other reason than Innes’ alleged conduct behind the decision to block her candidacy.
38. MacNaughton hid his identity in order to shield himself from liability for his defamation. Further, having already identified himself for attribution to the Canadian Press that day, by
posing as an anonymous “party official” to The Globe and Mail, he sought to add further credence to the defamation by suggesting there were other LPC officials willing to speak out.
39. MacNaughton was revealed as the anonymous “party official” in response to a legal demand letter written to the President of the LPC, Trudeau and MacNaughton declaring an intention to apply for a court order to reveal the “party official’s” identity if they did not do so voluntarily.
Trudeau’s Comments about Innes and Innes’ Campaign
40. On March 18, 2014, Trudeau spoke about the Trinity-Spadina riding to the media in a public forum following a speech made to the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel in Kingston, Ontario. During this exchange with the media, Trudeau libelled or slandered Innes by intentionally or recklessly making the following false, malicious and defamatory comments without regard to the truth or falsity of their contents:
(a) “It doesn’t mean letting contenders apply whatever nasty, divisive tactics they choose in order to secure a nomination.”
(b) “There were no other contenders willing to go near Trinity-Spadina given the approach that this team took. So we’re glad to see there’s actually going to be an open nomination now in Trinity-Spadina.”
(c) “It doesn’t mean that anyone can behave in any particular way they like and still expect to become Liberal candidates…”
(d) “Certainly, the way a campaign team behaves reflects directly on a candidate.”
41. These comments were published the same day on CTV News’ website (http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/trudeau-says-he-s-committed-to-open-nominations-despite-blocking-candidate-1.1735336) in an article authored by the Canadian Press titled, “Trudeau says he’s committed to open nominations, despite blocking candidate” and were reproduced in numerous other media. The article in the National Post (http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/19/justin-trudeau-says-hes-committed-to-open-nominations-despite-banning-a-candidate-over-bullying-claims/) further states: “an audio recording of Trudeau’s remarks was made available by his office in Ottawa.”
42. These defamatory comments were published of and concerning Innes. Despite not referring to her by name, the comments were published in the context of the LPC candidate in the Trinity-Spadina riding. Since March 13, 2014, the various newspapers and websites only referred to Innes and her campaign as being implicated in “bullying” and “intimidation” tactics. As such, Trudeau was attempting to give further credence to the comments published in the media by MacNaughton. Innes was clearly the “contender” for the nomination in the Trinity-Spadina riding that Trudeau referred to.
43. Further, any reasonable person who was informed of the situation in the Trinity-Spadina riding after the March 13, 2014 news cycle would have understood that this series of comments referred to Innes.
44. These defamatory comments, in their plain and ordinary meaning, including their implied meanings meant, were intended to mean, and were understood to mean:
(a) Innes and her campaign employed nasty and divisive tactics in order to attempt to secure the nomination in the Trinity-Spadina riding.
(b) Innes used unethical means to attempt to secure the nomination in the riding.
(c) Innes used bullying and intimidation tactics in an attempt to secure the nomination in the riding.
(d) Innes and her campaign team scared away other potential candidates for the riding.
(e) Innes and her campaign team made the nomination process in the riding less open and obstructed the democratic process.
(f) Innes and her campaign team made it difficult or impossible for local Liberals to choose who their candidate would be.
(g) Innes and her campaign employed backroom games and tactics in the riding.
(h) Innes and members of her team are “bullies” and “intimidators.” This must be looked at in the context of all of the allegations made against Innes and her campaign team in the surrounding time. The reference to “the behaviour” is a general reference to the “bullying” and “intimidation” that was published by MacNaughton and was being written about and discussed by the media and the public.
45. The comments referred to in paragraph 40 were made maliciously and intended to be heard by as many people as possible so as to malign Innes and accomplish the purpose referred to in paragraph 34 hereof.
March 25, 2014
46. Trudeau further libelled Innes on March 25, 2014 in response to a question from the moderator of a panel discussion on democratic engagement of youth in Canada at the University of Ottawa in which Trudeau took part. The comments were broadcast on the Canadian Public Affairs Channel’s (“CPAC”) website (http://www.cpac.ca/en/digital-archives/?search=March+25 – Minute 101) the same day as part of Peter Van Dusen’s show “Prime Time Politics” on CPAC.
47. On this occasion, Trudeau intentionally or recklessly libelled or slandered Innes by making the following comment without regard to the truth or falsity of its contents:
“It is absolutely unacceptable for any young Canadian to feel bullied by any political party particularly within my own which is why I made some difficult decisions in Trinity-Spadina.”
48. This libellous or slanderous comment was published of and concerning Innes and her management of her campaign team. The only candidate accused of “bullying” in the riding was Innes. As such, a reasonably informed person would have known that the comment referred to her.
49. The libel or slander in its plain and ordinary meaning, including its implied meanings meant, was intended to mean, and was understood to mean:
(a) Innes bullied young Canadians.
(b) Innes made young Canadians feel bullied.
(c) Innes condoned the actions of her campaign team who engaged in bullying.
(d) Innes condoned the actions of her campaign team that led to young Canadians feeling as though they had been bullied.
50. The comment referred to in paragraph 46 was made maliciously and intended to be heard by as many people as possible so as to discredit Innes within the LPC and the broader Canadian public and accomplish the purpose referred to in paragraph 34.
March 26, 2014
51. Trudeau libelled or slandered Innes again on March 26, 2014 when he intentionally or recklessly and without regard to the truth or falsity of their contents, made a series of comments to the media outside of the House of Commons in Ottawa. The comments were not an extension of any parliamentary proceeding and were contemporaneous responses to specific questions from the media about the political situation in the Trinity-Spadina riding. Trudeau stated:
(a) “I have been absolutely consistent that I will not accept bullying on my watch as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, because those are the kinds of behaviours that led us to being 36 seats in the House of Commons.”
(b) “There were many, many meetings with her and her campaign team over the weeks leading up to this decision.”
(c) “If someone is engaging in intimidation tactics and bullying young volunteers, that’s simply something that is unacceptable and I will not stand for on my watch at the Liberal Party of Canada.”
(d) “Warnings were not heeded, which led us to this unfortunate situation. But it actually gives us an opportunity to actually have an open nomination in Trinity-Spadina.”
52. These comments were published on the website of the Toronto Star in an article written by Susan Delacourt titled, “Justin Trudeau says ‘bullying’ shut down in Trinity-Spadina” (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/03/26/justin_trudeau_says_bullying_shut_down_in_trinityspadina.html) as well as other major national newspapers’ websites.
53. These libellous or slanderous comments were published of and concerning Innes. The comments were made in the context of discussing Innes and her campaign team. Trudeau referred to “her” and “her campaign team” and “someone.” The feminine pronoun “her” would be understood to refer to Innes in the mind of any reasonably informed and right-thinking person. “Someone” is used immediately after the feminine pronoun “her” and is used in a sentence that is meant to be an extension of Trudeau’s comments discussing the meetings with Innes and “her” campaign team.
54. These libellous or slanderous comments in their plain and ordinary meaning, including their implied meanings meant, were intended to mean, and were understood to mean:
(a) Innes negatively affected the LPC with her campaign tactics and hurt its chances of success in the By-election and the 2015 General Election.
(b) Innes was given clear and repeated warnings and yet continued to bully and intimidate or, alternatively, condoned bullying and intimidation against volunteers.
(c) Innes used bullying and intimidation in an attempt to secure the nomination in the riding.
(d) Innes used unethical means to attempt to secure the nomination in the riding. Bullying and intimidating volunteers and using “backroom negotiations and games” in an attempt to secure the nomination in the riding would be considered unethical. As such, the assertion is that Innes used unethical means to attempt to secure the nomination and was an unethical person.
(e) Innes affected the ability of the LPC to have open nominations in the Trinity-Spadina riding. Trudeau notes that by banning Innes, the riding will now be able to
“actually” have open nominations. This implies that Innes obstructed the process of having open nominations before Trudeau banned her from running as a candidate.
55. The comments reproduced in paragraph 51 were made maliciously and intended to be heard by as many people as possible. The purpose of the comments was to discredit Innes within the LPC and the broader Canadian public for the purpose described in paragraph 34.
Allegations of Bullying and Intimidation are False
56. Contrary to all of the libels and slanders made by the defendants and complained of herein, Innes did not and has never:
(a) bullied, intimidated or threatened any young Liberal, young Canadian or any other person in connection with the campaign, the nomination or in her political or professional life;
(b) condoned such behaviour by her campaign;
(c) attempted to create or exacerbate discord within the LPC;
(d) received any particularized warnings about her or her campaign team “bullying,” “intimidating” or “threatening” young Liberals from any party official or any other person within the LPC; or
(e) interfered with any person’s democratic or Charter rights.
Ulterior Purpose of the Defamatory Comments
57. The defamatory comments were made with malice aforethought.
58. The defendants maliciously defamed Innes because of her refusal to sign Form 12 and allow the LPC leadership to dictate where she could run in the 2015 General Election. Their cynical actions were calculated to destroy Innes’ reputation to deflect media and public attention away from their interference with the wishes of the local riding Associations.
59. MacNaughton’s anonymous comment to The Globe and Mail reproduced in paragraph 35(a) hereof, for example, stated that the “only” reason that Innes was barred from being a candidate was because of alleged bullying by her campaign. This comment came within hours of his March 13 email to Innes in which the first reason he gave for barring her candidacy was her refusal to sign Form 12. MacNaughton and Trudeau airbrushed this reason from their public statements in order to keep the public focus entirely on the bullying accusations.
60. Within days of the story appearing in the press, Trudeau saw a further opportunity to capitalize on the defamation by using it to burnish his image as a leader who will restore local democracy and stand up young Liberals and all Canadians.
The Social Context of the Defamatory Comments
61. “Bullying” is an emotionally charged and derogatory term.
62. Bullying is the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively impose domination over others. Societal concern over bullying has reached heightened levels.
63. In recent years, there have been non-profit organizations established that are dedicated to promoting awareness of the social problem of bullying. Media organizations around the world have reported on various cases of bullying and governments have started to pass laws prohibiting bullying in schools and online.
64. Canada has passed legislation targeting “cyberbullying.” In addition, several provincial legislatures including Ontario are in the process of passing or have passed “anti-bullying” legislation.
65. Ontario’s proposed Bill 14, which targets bullying and is currently before the Standing Committee on Social Policy, includes the following observations about bullying which the plaintiff adopts:
Bullying, particularly in schools, has become an increasing problem in Canada. Victims of bullying have suffered mental anguish, bodily injury and even death at the hands of their tormentors.
Bullying can leave a harmful and long-lasting mark on its victims. It can leave children with painful emotional and mental scarring and a lifelong struggle with self-esteem. Bullying can therefore impair the ability of a victim to contribute meaningfully to society and to function normally in the victim’s family environment.
Bullies suffer as well, since bullying may be indicative of deeper psychological and emotional problems…
Bullying also creates a poisoned atmosphere among persons who observe the bullying of others. For example, the occurrence of bullying can intimidate observers, lead observers to excuse, accommodate or even encourage the bully or, worst of all, lead them to try bullying themselves. The negative cost of bullying to society at large is therefore considerable.
66. In light of the foregoing, to call someone a “bully” or to accuse them of “bullying” is to viciously malign them in Canadian society and bring them into scandal, contempt and disrepute. Bullies are seen as undesirable, psychologically troubled individuals who leave their victims with painful emotional and mental scars.
67. “Intimidation” means provoking a state of fear in someone.
68. Intimidation can imply criminal conduct contrary to s. 423 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. In connection with an election, intimidation of voters can be an offence under the s. 482 of the Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9.
69. Bullying and intimidation, when used together, implies criminal or quasi-criminal, unethical and anti-democratic conduct.
70. To label a politician, a community volunteer and a lawyer as a bully and intimidator or someone who condones such conduct is to irreparably damage her reputation in the eyes of the public.
71. Innes’s reputation for integrity, compassion and political ethics is her most valuable professional and political asset. It is of paramount importance to the success of her career as a lawyer, politician and community leader.
72. As a result of the defendants’ utterances and publication of the libels complained of herein:
(a) Innes has suffered and will in the future suffer damage to her reputation and to her well-being. She has been brought into scandal and contempt in a way that was calculated to maximize the injury done to her;
(b) professional opportunities and relationships with her professional colleagues have been, and will continue to be, damaged throughout the remainder of her political and legal careers; and
(c) Innes has suffered humiliation in the eyes of her children, friends, and colleagues.
Punitive, Aggravated and Exemplary Damages
73. By letter dated April 7, 2014 Innes, through her counsel, provided a detailed written complaint to both defendants with respect to the libels complained of, and requested a retraction and apology.
74. To date the defendants have not published any retraction or apology. To the contrary, Trudeau and MacNaughton, through their counsel, responded in a “With Prejudice” letter on April 11, 2013 that they would repeat the defamatory allegations publicly.
75. The malicious, high-handed and arrogant conduct of the defendants warrants an award of punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages to ensure that the defendants are appropriately punished for their conduct and deterred from such conduct in the future. The following examples of conduct by the defendants justifies an award of such damages:
(a) repeating the libels on several occasions;
(b) maliciously using the libels against Innes to make an example of her to further their own political prominence and position within the LPC as well as the Canadian electorate at large;
(c) publishing the libels maliciously and in bad faith with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard for their truth and falsity;
(d) publishing the libels in a way that would ensure that they would be disseminated nationally in order to maximize the injury to Innes;
(e) taking no steps prior to the publication of any of the libels complained of to provide Innes with an adequate opportunity to respond; and
(f) with respect to Trudeau, using the libels against Innes to elevate his own reputation as a defender of the oppressed.
April 14, 2014 SOTOS LLP
Barristers and Solicitors
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1200
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1Z8
(LSUC # 36274J)
(LSUC # 62333E)
Tel: (416) 977-0007
Fax: (416) 977-0717
Lawyers for the plaintiff
Contact Sotos LLP
180 Dundas Street West,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada