Defamatory statements of fact published in mass media give rise to a legal problem of particular difficulty. When a defamatory statement of fact is published by mass media, the breadth of the statement’s dissemination is likely to maximize the harm to the person defamed. Yet in recent decades there has been an increasing consciousness among legislators and the judiciary of the importance of freedom of expression in democratic societies. Defamation cases are free speech cases in microcosm. Judicial appreciation of the important values at stake on both sides of cases involving defamatory statements of fact in mass media has led to recognition that the publication of such statements, when they relate to subjects of legitimate public interest, should in some circumstances be legally protected. As a result, Canadian law as to the availability of a defence of privilege for mass media has been in a state of evolution for many years. This article surveys the history of that evolution, which has led to a restatement of libel law in terms of free expression the ory. A cornerstone of that restatement is the recent recognition by the Supreme Court, in Grant v. Torstar, of a new defence of responsible communication on matters of public interest.
Downard, Peter A..
"The Defence of Responsible Communication."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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