Be Careful Making Fun of Canadian Lawyers, Part II
I previously blogged about Canadian censor and thug Richard Warman suing Canadian bloggers for criticizing him in the course of his quest to use Canada's Human Rights Commissions to silence speech he doesn't like. You'll remember that in Canada you can get sued for libel for calling someone a censor. Fortunately I live here.
Anyway, one of the bloggers on Warman's silence-list is Ezra Levant, who is one of the loudest critics of the Human Rights Commissions. Now another Canadian lawyer is threatening to sue Levant. Why is Giacomo Vigna angry? Well, basically, Levant made fun of him.
It would be very hard not to make fun of Mssr. Vigna. Vigna is himself an attorney for the Human Rights Commission. During one hearing, he indulged in a rather weepy drama-mama excuse for not confronting the case at hand:
MR. VIGNA: Sorry. Mr. Chair, I don't have the flu but I don't feel in a serene state of mind to proceed with the file today. I don't feel very well. I feel dizzy, I feel anxiety, and I am not in a serene state of mind to proceed with this file today.
I have a lot of things worrying me right now and I don't want to elaborate, but my colleague said, Mr. Fine, there are some certain incidents that have occurred which I don't feel at liberty to elaborate right now, which have had an impact on my ability to proceed in a professional way on this file, at least for today, because I wouldn't be rendering the Commission a just service by proceeding in this condition.
I am not dying, Mr. Chair, I don't have the flu, but I am not mentally capable of proceeding under these circumstances.
THE CHAIRPERSON: But the witness is here?
MR. VIGNA: The witness is here. It's not the question of the witness. The witness is here. I thought until this morning that I would proceed, but I really don't feel primarily mentally able to proceed, and physically too.
MS. KULASZKA: I am very concerned about this very hush hush allegation that some sort of breach of security has happened. The only people who have been here for the last two days are us, either counsel or a representative of the party. No one else has been here in this room. I know of no incident outside that's happened….
MR. CHRISTIE: I have heard two explanations which are as frivolous as any I have ever heard in justifying an adjournment of a whole proceeding… To say I am not feeling well, but sit here and talk about it, is inconsistent. There is no medical certificate, and I heard very faintly Mr. Vigna say I'm not physically sick, I don't have a serene state of mind. Very few of us in the difficulties we face always have a serene state of mind. I don't know what that means.
This is not a case of a nervous breakdown or a mental state justifying a psychiatric examination. I am certain of that. To say I don't feel like doing it today is insulting…
MR. VIGNA: Mr. Chair, I will provide a medical certificate.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Please sit down, Mr. Vigna.
MR. VIGNA: I feel insulted by that comment.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Please sit down.
Apparently the list of job qualifications for CHRC attorney does not include "shame, sense of."
Vigna's libel notice.. the necessary precursor to a lawsuit — complains that Levant used "sarcasm and ridicule." Really. If that's a tort, I ought to be in debtor's prison by now. The greater part of the claim — to the extent it is based on making fun of Vigna based on events on the record of a proceeding — is breathtakingly frivolous, even in the context of Canada's weak-ass free speech protections.
Vigna's suit, if brought, could be a risky one. Levant has uncovered evidence strongly suggesting that Vigna and Warman participated in a fraud on the Human Rights Tribunal in connection with the authenticity of a document. The danger of any libel suit is always the consequence if the defendant makes a convincing showing of truth.
But Canada clearly needs an anti-SLAPP law.
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