WIC Radio Ltd., et al. v. Kari Simpson

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Torts - Damages.


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Torts - Defamation - Damages - Appeal - Whether the appellate court erred in reversing a finding of fact which had not been appealed and without hearing argument on the issue - Whether the appellate court erred in reversing a finding of fact without palpable or overriding error - Whether the appellate court erred in denying a fair comment defence to a defamation defendant by reversing a finding that the impugned words were comment and misapplying the principles governing the distinction between comments and statements of fact.

In October 1999, an editorial was published and broadcast on the Appellant radio station by the Appellant editorialist Mair which named the Respondent. The context of the broadcast was the public debate over the introduction of materials dealing with homosexuality into public schools. The Respondent had a public reputation as a leader of those opposed to schools teaching acceptance of a gay lifestyle. As a result of the broadcast, the Respondent brought an action in defamation against both of the Appellants, claiming that certain words in the broadcast were defamatory in their ordinary and natural meaning. She sought an injunction as well as general, special, aggravated and punitive damages. The Respondent’s action in defamation was dismissed and the counterclaim against the Respondent was dismissed. On appeal, the appeal was allowed, the trial judgment was set aside and the matter remitted to the trial judge for assessment of damages.