I lost a big court case today, and I think freedom of speech for all of us has suffered a setback.
I’m worried that it is now legally dangerous for Jews, or anyone else in Canada, to call out an anti-Semite as anti-Semitic — without risking being sued into submission.
Let me explain:
Today the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a defamation trial judgment against me, in a lawsuit filed more than seven years ago, for comments I wrote on my blog.
So right there, imagine the punishing costs over seven years of this litigation. And that’s the point, that’s lawfare — a deterrent to anyone who would dare to speak freely; to make them censor themselves. Even if I had won today, I’ve already spent countless thousands of dollars on lawyers, and hundreds of hours of my life on this.
Here’s the background:
I was sued by Khurrum Awan, the former youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
One of the reasons I lost was that the trial judge ruled that calling Awan an anti-Semite was defamatory.
Awan used to be the youth president of an anti-Semitic group — the Canadian Islamic Congress. The trial judge ruled that it was defamatory for me to call their former youth president anti-Semitic, even though Awan himself testified at trial that he agreed it's reasonable for people to call certain statements by the Islamic Congress anti-Semitic.
So I appealed the trial ruling. It cost me more than $30,000. And today, the Ontario Court of Appeal came out with their ruling. And it was awful. The financial cost was high, but there’s more.
WATCH my whole video and visit StandWithEzra.ca for the details, too, but here, let me summarize in plain English:
If you campaign against anti-Semitism, or any other sort of bigotry, if you say anything, or Facebook anything, or Tweet anything, and if your comments are motivated by hard feelings and animosity towards anti-Semites like Mohamed Elmasry — this judge says those hard feelings and animosity take away your right to make a fair comment if they are directed at others associated with them.
But if you aren’t upset by him, and don’t have hard feelings towards him, it doesn’t motivate your feelings and comments about him, then the courts may let you call him an anti-Semite because they’ll say it’s fair comment.
Do you see the paradox here?
And by the way, this court ruling against me isn’t just about me. It’s the Ontario Court of Appeal. So it’s a binding precedent all across Ontario, and it’s persuasive all across the country.
Obviously we’ve got to keep fighting this.
I’m going to apply for permission to appeal this to the Supreme Court of Canada. I’m not sure if they’ll grant us permission. But we’re going to try. My lawyer says that will cost approximately $10,000.
We just can’t let this precedent stand.
This court of appeal ruling doesn’t just affect my rights. It’s a setback for freedom for everyone — especially for activists trying to fight back against anti-Semitism. Imagine not being able to use that word to describe activists with anti-Semitic groups.
If you share my belief that we cannot let this ruling stand, please help me cover the costs of applying to the Supreme Court by visiting StandWithEzra.ca
Thanks for your support — for me, and for everyone who believes in free speech, and opposes anti-Semitism and lawfare.