June 28, 2022, a $1.1 million defamation lawsuit was filed against the B.C. based group CSASPP, and 3 of its members. It was commenced 18 months ago, and finally thrown out by Justice Chalmers under Ontario’s anti-SLAPP laws. (See CanLII version).
For a bit of context, “SLAPP” is an acronym for a strategic lawsuit against public participation. It’s when a person or group sues another in order to silence their expression on issues of public interest.
The suit was filed by “Mr. Bad Beyond Argument” himself, who seems to put more effort into threatening and suing his critics than he does in holding tyrannical administrations to account. This site has extensively covered just how shoddy those pleadings are.
An anti-SLAPP Motion is simply a Motion to dismiss. It’s complex, and there are many steps, but really, it’s just a Motion to dismiss. Here are the basic requirements:
The Defendant(s), or Moving Part(y/ies), must convince the Judge that the expression is that of a public interest. Specifically, it must be on a topic that at least a segment of the population has a genuine interest in knowing about. By design, it’s a very low burden.
If successful, the burden shifts to the Plaintiff(s), or Respondent(s), who then must pass 3 conjunctive tests. If the Plaintiff(s) fails even 1 part, then the case must be dismissed.
(A) The Plaintiff(s) must convince the Judge that there is “substantial merit” to the allegations. That’s not to say that a win is guaranteed, but that it’s more likely than not that it could prevail at Trial.
(B) The Plaintiff(s) must convince the Judge that there are no reasonable defences that are likely available. There are many ways to overcome a defamation suit, and the Plaintiff(s) must show that there are no plausible ones.
(C) The Plaintiff(s) must convince the Judge that there is greater public interest in allowing the case to proceed to Trial than there is in protecting the expression. At the heart of it, the Plaintiff(s) must also show that the expression led to (or will lead to) serious financial and/or reputational harm. Here, the Court decides which will prevail.
Here, the CSASPP Defendants prevailed in every aspect. It wasn’t a close call, or a difficult case.
The public has a valid interest in knowing what is happening with those cases, and how the money being donated is being spent.
(A) The Court found that there was no merit to the defamation claims, so the case was effectively over then. Additionally, the other “torts” such as: abuse of process; unlawful means; harassment; conspiracy, etc… were just derivatives of the defamation claims.
(B) The Court accepted all defences that were offered, including: (i) absolute privilege; (ii) qualified privilege; (iii) justification, or truth; and (iv) fair comment. Absolute privilege protects complaints to quasi-judicial bodies, and prevents retaliatory lawsuits. Qualified privilege refers to an obligation — usually professional — to speak out. Fair comment refers to the protection of people to express opinions that could honestly be held.
(C) The Court also found that there was much stronger interest in protecting the expression than allowing the case to continue. It didn’t help that while financial losses were alleged, the details of which were withheld. Nor did it help that there were many other sources of criticism, making it harder to pinpoint a source.
(1) A January 2021 email to Dan Dicks of Press for Truth, inviting people to donate this case, as opposed to the Action4Canada one. At the time, there had been nothing filed, despite months of fundraising.
(2) A June 2021 change to the FAQ (frequently asked questions) which stated clearly that there was no association or affiliation between the groups, and gave reasons why. It was also largely a duplicate of the Dicks email.
(3) A January 2022 complaint to the LSO — or Law Society of Ontario — asking for information as to the whereabouts of money donated to various cases.
(4) Allegations — not properly pleaded — of a conversation where there was a desire to see the Plaintiff disbarred and criminally charged with fraud.
Interestingly, the Dicks email and the FAQ took place more than a year prior to this case being filed. It’s the LSO complaint that appears to have been the driving force.
January 2021: CSASPP emails Dan Dicks in order to promote their proposed suit, and to pitch it as a better investment than Action4Canada.
June 2021: CSASPP puts the section up on their FAQ, supposedly to quell constant inquiries about who they are connected to, and what there role is in other cases.
January 15, 2022: the original LSO complaint is put forward to the LSO, although it appears that it wasn’t immediately accepted.
May 19, 2022: The LSO finally forwards the complaint and demands a response.
June 28, 2022: The $1.1 million dollar suit is filed against CSASPP and its people
June 29, 2022: A letter is sent to the LSO, informing them that Donna Toews has been sued, and that the Court will effectively be deciding the issue.
July 12, 2022: The Law Society itself is sued, and the Toews complaint makes up large part of it. One can assume this was done to further thwart any investigation into the complaint. The suit demands $500,000 in damages, and is very poorly written.
July 13, 2022: There’s an appearance on a livestream with Vaccine Choice Canada, bragging about the CSASPP and LSO suits which have just been filed. It’s plausible to view this as a publicity stunt. Supposedly, neither CSASPP nor the LSO had actually been served by this point.
October 12, 2022: CSASPP and the LSO appear in Court on the same day to set down dates to throw out their respective cases. CSASPP’s Motion is based on s.137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act (anti-SLAPP). The LSO Motion is based on Rule 21 of Civil Procedure (failing to state a cause of action). Both are to be heard the next Autumn.
The next several months is a document exchange of the papers needed to carry out the anti-SLAPP Motion. The LSO documents are also attached below.
July 28, 2023: CSASPP files their Factum, or written arguments. This is a Friday, and it’s interesting to see what happens the following Monday.
July 31, 2023: The Law Society is sued for a second time, and it’s largely a rehash of the first one. Another $500,000 is sought. It’s possible this was done to “keep open” litigation against the LSO, assuming the first case is thrown out.
September 12, 2023: CSASPP’s Motion to dismiss is heard, with the ruling under reserve.
September 21, 2023: LSO’s Motion to strike is heard, the ruling under reserve.
December 11, 2023: The suit against CSASPP is dismissed as a SLAPP. The Court finds that the suit was brought for the improper purposes of stifling debate, and to intimidate people from filing LSO complaints. In essence, it’s a finding of professional misconduct.
On June 19, 2020, I donated $1000 in my husband’s name to Vaccine Choice Canada with specific instructions to give the donation to the Legal Fund headed by Mr. Galati, who was preparing a claim seeking relief on behalf of Canadians wronged by the actions of government officials and others because of Covid-19. I also donated $1000 to Action4Canada, which was soliciting donations to fund a similar lawsuit in British Columbia. I understand that Vaccine Choice Canada,Action4Canada, and a third organization in Quebec have raised approximately $3,500,000 to finance litigation in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. Vaccine Choice Canada confirmed that my donation had gone to its Legal Fund to support its legal fees for the constitutional challenge to be brought by Mr. Galati.
As VCC suggested, I “added a membership to my file” so that I would be invited to members only meetings with Mr. Galati. (This email exchange is attached. I have redacted my name and other information that may identify me). Mr. Galati commenced the action on behalf of Vaccine Choice Canada and other plaintiffs on July 6, 2020.
Mr. Galati stated during a media interview that he would be sure that an interim hearing would be held before December 2020. I received no information about the progress of the litigation until almost 18 months later. I was not invited to any members only meetings with Mr. Galati in the meantime. No interim hearing has been held, and no Statements of Defence have been delivered as far as I can determine. No default proceedings have been taken. In fact, I do not know whether the defendants have even been served with the Statement of Claim.
I wrote to Vaccine Choice Canada on December 20, 2021, to ask whether anything had come of the lawsuit and whether the Court had seen it yet. Vaccine Choice Canada replied on January 2, 2022, that, “our case filed in the summer of 2020 has not had a hearing yet. The lawyer is working backstage, but he does not want to tell anything of what he is doing so he does not give an opportunity to the enemy.” (This email exchange is attached. I have redacted my name and other information that may identify me).
I do not know the relationship between Vaccine Choice Canada, or Action4Canada,and Mr. Galati, other than that Mr. Galati is representing them in the litigation. No financial statements of VCC have been filed with Corporations Canada as of December 22, 2021. I do not know much of the funds raised by these organizations have been turned over to Mr. Galati in trust, how much he has been paid, or what he expects to result from the claim he has started (but, evidently neglected to pursue).
Justice Chalmers not only ruled that the Toews complaint was protected by absolute privilege. He found that she had been sued in order to derail the complaint, and as an act of intimidation.
This is now official: an ONSC Judge has ruled that a lawsuit was filed in order to sabotage an existing LSO complaint, and to intimidate others from making complaints. This is grounds for disbarment, and there is precedent in Ontario for revoking licences under these circumstances.
Justice Chalmers also found that criticising “Mr. Bad Beyond Argument” was justified, because his cases — particularly his anti-lockdown suits — were objectively very poor.
One very minor error: neither the VCC nor A4C cases are class actions, although they would have the large impact on the public, depending on the ruling.
Apparently an appeal is already in the works. It’s unclear what possible grounds there are for reversal, as there are no major errors in the ruling.
Should people still be donating to these lawsuits, knowing that the lawyer in charge of them could very well be disbarred for bringing this case? Keep in mind, the LSO won’t take too kindly to having to pay to defend 2 frivolous suits themselves. Perhaps it’s time to consider other options.
One final thought: successful anti-SLAPP Motions in Ontario typically lead to “full indemnity” (or 100% of costs) for the Defendant(s). Considering the volume of paperwork involved here, it could easily top $100,000 to $150,000. Many such awards have been handed out in recent years, and in fact, have gone much higher. If the case is appealed unsuccessfully, that will likely lead to full indemnity costs as well.
CSASPP/RG DOCUMENTS (June 2022)
(a) CSASPP RG Statement Of Claim
(b) CSASPP RG Moving Party Motion Record Volume 1
(c) CSASPP RG Moving Party Motion Record Volume 2
(d) CSASPP RG Moving Party Motion Record Volume 3
(e) CSASPP RG Responding Motion Record Volume 1
(f) CSASPP RG Responding Motion Record Volume 2
(g) CSASPP RG Responding Motion Record Volume 3
(h) CSASPP RG Moving Party Supplemental Motion Record
(i) CSASPP RG Moving Party Record Motion To Strike
(j) CSASPP RG Plaintiffs Responding Record Motion To Strike
(k) CSASPP RG Moving Party Factum (Arguments)
(l) CSASPP RG Responding Plaintiff Factum
(m) CSASPP RG Moving Parties Reply Factum
(n) CSASPP RG Reasons For Judgement
(o) CanLII Posting Of Decision
1ST LAW SOCIETY OF ONTARIO CLAIM (July 2022)
(a) Law Society Of Ontario Statement Of Claim
(b) Law Society Of Ontario Intent To Defend
(c) Law Society Of Ontario Amended Statement Of Claim
(d) Law Society Of Ontario Requisition For Amended Claim
(e) Law Society Of Ontario Motion Record, To Strike
(f) Law Society Of Ontario Moving Party Factum To Strike
(g) Law Society Of Ontario Plaintiff Responding Factum
2ND LAW SOCIETY OF ONTARIO CLAIM (July 2023)
(a) Law Society Of Ontario Second Statement Of Claim