The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Néron v. CBC arguably sets a new low water mark for the protection of expressive freedom in the law of defamation. A finding of liability for defamation for a broadcast or publication that deals with matters of public importance necessarily involves justifying a limit on the constitutional protection of freedom of expression in a manner that respects an appropriate balance between protecting reputation and safeguarding expressive freedom. By following the approach of the Court in Hill v. Scientology and focusing on defamation as a private dispute, the majority in Néron loses sight of the public law dimensions of the required balance. Instead, it adopts a test for liability — “professional journalistic standards” — that is so ill suited for the protection of the public interest in expressive freedom that the Court is able to find liability in circumstances where the offending broadcast is both truthful and in the public interest.
Freiman, Mark J..
"The Public Law Consequences of Private Disputes: Néron v. CBC and the Law of Defamation."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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