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Ex-school trustee’s defamation case can’t proceed, Supreme Court of Canada says

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a defamation lawsuit initiated years ago by a school trustee against a teacher’s union president should not proceed. 

Barry Neufeld, who was a trustee in Chilliwack, B.C., made negative comments in 2017 about how a sexual orientation and gender identity program was being implemented in the province’s schools. 

Glen Hansman, head of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation at the time, criticized Neufeld’s comments when interviewed by the media, prompting the trustee to bring a defamation claim. 

Hansman successfully moved to have the claim dismissed under the province’s anti-SLAPP law, which is intended to safeguard debate of public issues. 

However, the B.C. Court of Appeal reinstated the defamation proceeding, saying a judge erred in assessing whether there was likely a valid defence of fair comment.

In its decision today, the Supreme Court restored the original order dismissing the defamation action.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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