In brief: Judge dismisses ex-OPP commander’s libel suit against Premier Ford

By Sabrina Nanji January 5, 2021

A judge has dismissed fired OPP commander Brad Blair‘s defamation lawsuit against Premier Doug Ford. Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba granted Ford’s anti-SLAPP motion, which argued Blair’s case was “strategic litigation against public participation.”

Blair had launched legal action related to the hiring process for OPP commissioner, which saw him passed over in favour of Ford’s friend Ron Taverner and led to a defamation suit when the premier publicly suggested Blair breached the Police Services Act.

Belobaba dismissed the defamation action on the grounds that “in some circumstances, permitting the wronged party to seek vindication through litigation comes at too high a cost to freedom of expression. This is such a case.”

Belobaba was quick to add that the dismissal does not necessarily mean Blair’s reputation didn’t take a hit. “This decision does not extinguish the plaintiff’s core allegation that his reputation was damaged because of the impugned public statements,” the judge wrote.

However, he deemed Ford’s remarks about Blair allegedly breaching the Police Services Act “were a matter of public interest” and would likely pass a “fair comment” test in court.

Meanwhile, Blair’s wrongful dismissal lawsuit will be proceeding “shortly,” according to Belobaba