While a step forward, the law is probably still two years away, and will be hotly contested.
Ezra Levant loves calling other people liars.
Except that when Ezra Levant attacked human rights lawyer Giacomo Vigna as a liar, Justice Robert Smith of the Ontario Superior Court found in 2010 that Levant “spoke in reckless disregard of the truth” and that his allegations were malicious. (Canlii)
And when Ezra Levant attacked lawyer Khurrum Awan as a liar? Justice Wendy Matheson (former counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association) said in 2014:
 The numerous errors made by [Ezra Levant] also speak to the question of malice. Although he agreed in cross-examination that it was important to publish accurate facts, he did little or no fact-checking regarding the posts complained of, either before or after their publication. Nor did he accurately report what was taking place at the hearing. And, with one exception, when he learned that he got his facts wrong, he made no corrections.
 I find that [Ezra Levant's] dominant motive in these blog posts was ill-will, and that his repeated failure to take even basic steps to check his facts showed a reckless disregard for the truth. (CanLII)
Now Ezra Levant has accused the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (“CAHN”) of being “disinformation assets hired by Trudeau” and that CAHN hires it employees to “lie”. Not only are Ezra Levant’s statements materially incorrect; they ignore the impact that far-right news outlets may be having on terrorists.
Rebel News Network Ltd. (“Rebel News”) commenced an action against CAHN team member Ms. Simons concerning the Re-Tweet of a third-party post (“Re-Tweet”). CAHN did not post the Re-Tweet. Ms. Simons posted the tweet on her personal Twitter account at 1 pm on December 8, 2020. She deleted it at 3:28 pm, the same day.
On December 10, 2020, Ms. Simons posted this apology, “I deleted a tweet that suggested the Christchurch terrorist was incited by Rebel News to commit violence. I did not have evidence to support that and apologize to Rebel news”. The apology was live until January 17, 2021, after which time the Twitter account was deleted.
Litigation by Rebel Media
Despite the apology having been posted, Rebel Media used their money and lawyers to commence an action against Ms. Simons.
Due Diligence Conducted by Ms. Simons and Apology Resulted in Settlement
The lawyer for Rebel Media was advised of the apology and the following due diligence conducted by Ms. Simons prior to posting the Re-Tweet:
She drew on her existing expertise and knowledge and confirmed that:
- During Alexandre Bissonnette’s criminal trial, which prosecuted him for his Quebec mosque shooting, evidence was led that he had consumed media from individuals related to Rebel Media; specifically, Gavin McInnes, who at the time of the Quebec mosque shooting was still employed by Rebel; and
- During Darren Osborne’s criminal trial, which prosecuted him for driving a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in England, evidence was presented that he had consumed media from Tommy Robinson. He was also an email subscriber of Rebel Media. According to media reports familiar to Ms. Simons prior to the impugned incident, Mr. Robinson “was also associated with Canada’s Rebel Media at the time”;
- Simons read the relevant sections of the New Zealand Government’s “Report: Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019” including the finding that found the Christchurch terrorist donated $106.68 to Rebel News Network as part of donations to what the Commission described as “far-right, anti-immigration groups.”
While Ms. Simons reliance on these findings was reasonable at the time of posting the Re-Tweet given the legitimacy of the sources, she still issued an apology to Rebel News. Rebel News issued its own statement following the Royal Commission’s findings, stating that the ultimate recipient of the donation was another project.
Counsel for Rebel News was advised that if it did not dismiss the action against Ms. Simons, she would bring an anti-SLAPP motion. For context, Rebel News has just lost two anti-SLAPP motions brought by Al Jazeera and Brendan Demelle. It is now facing significant costs as per the judgement in Al Jazeera Media and Demelle.
Rebel News entered into a settlement agreement with Ms. Simons to dismiss the defamation against her in exchange for her reposting the apology for 90 days.
Factually Incorrect Statement of Ezra Levant
Ezra Levant therefore misleads his readers when he stated that:
- “It took months for her to confess that she made it all up.” Firstly, Ms. Simons posted an apology two days after posting the Re-Tweet. Secondly, she did not “confess that she made it all up.”
- “She put [the apology] up briefly then deleted it.” The apology was live for 28 days before it was reposted yesterday in accordance with the settlement agreement.
- The “@antihateca” “screwed it up here.” The Re-Tweet was not posted by CAHN.
- “Incredibly, Simons threatens to delete her apology in 90 days.” The 90-day period was part of the settlement Rebel News agreed to. It's standard.
- “The confessed liar Elizabeth Simons.” Simons never stated that she lied.
- “She gets paid to lie. And that is just fine by @antihateca – that is what they pay her for.” CAHN does not lie. It does not pay people to lie.
- He also says that CAHN has a contract to “explicitly to defame conservatives . . . the disinformation and defamation campaigns by @antihateca are explicitly laid out in their government contract.” This is not true. Ezra Levant claims to have seen this contract, so we challenge him to show his evidence or admit it is a fabrication.
While many of the above statements made by Ezra Levant could give rise to findings of defamation, they are red herrings that detract from the real issue.
As found by the New Zealand Royal Commission, a terrorist consumed and/or donated to overseas far-right organizations prior to committing a large-scale act of terrorism. The Terrorist donated $106.68 AUD to Rebel News Network Ltd. Rebel says that the ultimate recipient of the donation was another project, but does that even matter?
Rebel News and other far-right organizations must examine the impact they may be having on terrorists like the Christchurch Terrorist, Alexandre Bissonnette (Quebec Terrorist), and Darren Osborne (English Terrorist), all of whom targeted Muslims. In each case, evidence was led at the criminal trials and the Royal Inquiry that the perpetrators were exposed to Rebel News’ or its contributors’ content; much of which (especially at the time) degraded Muslims.
It is in the public interest to start a societal conversation as to the relationship between the consumption of far-right, anti-Muslim media sources and acts of terrorism. The victims of these massacres deserve, at the very least, that we study whether anti-Muslim propaganda contributes to a dangerous environment that, in turn, gives rise to mass murders.
This commentary and societal conversation are not anti-conservative. They are not pro-censorship. If you do not support the murder of innocent people, you should support trying to understand why people commit it.