Former Chilliwack school trustee’s defamation suit shut down by Supreme Court
Posted May 19, 2023 9:10 am.
Last Updated May 19, 2023 9:25 pm.
The Supreme Court of Canada has shut down a defamation lawsuit targeting the former head of the BC Teachers Federation.
In a decision released Friday morning, the high court has ruled in favour of Glen Hansman in a suit brought by one-time Chilliwack School Board Trustee, Barry Neufeld.
Neufeld wanted to defend his reputation after making controversial comments about SOGI 123, which is the B.C. Ministry of Education’s sexual orientation and gender identity program.
The former trustee made online comments about the program in 2016, which were considered derogatory by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
Hansman, a former President of the BC Teachers’ Federation, publicly denounced Neufeld’s comments, calling them “bigoted, transphobic, and hateful.”
Neufeld sued Hansman for defamation. The case was dismissed by B.C.’s Supreme Court on the grounds that “protecting Mr. Hansman’s speech outweighed the public interest in remedying the reputational harm to Mr. Neufeld.”
That decision was appealed by Neufeld, and the Supreme Court of Canada Friday ruled that B.C.’s high court decision was the right one, saying Hansman’s response to Neufeld’s comments were “neither disproportionate nor gratuitous.”
Following the decision, Hansman issued a statement through the BC Teachers’ Federation.
“I hope this decision makes things easier for anyone speaking in defense of a marginalized community, particularly those speaking in defense of 2SLGBTQ youth and trans people generally, without having to be fearful of retaliatory legal action,” he said.