VANCOUVER — Former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver has been granted an appeal in a defamation lawsuit against a retired geography professor.
In a unanimous decision released Thursday, the B.C. Court of Appeal says a lower court judge erred when he concluded the words used in an article written by Timothy Ball were not defamatory against Weaver, who is also a climate scientist.
The defamation claim is based on a 2011 article entitled "Corruption of Climate Science has Created 30 Lost Years" that Ball sent to a website that the court says purported to be a news site.
The article referred to Weaver in connection with a field of what is described as "corrupted" climate science, at a time before he entered provincial politics.
Writing for the three-judge panel, Justice Susan Griffin says a reasonable person would read the article as alleging Weaver was not professionally competent or qualified and was academically biased in his field of climate science.
She says if the classic test of the court is applied when considering whether the words have a tendency to injure a person's reputation, then the words in Ball's article were defamatory.
Ball argued that regardless of whether the words are defamatory, Weaver had failed to prove publication of the article or, alternatively, that it was published in B.C., the decision says.
The Appeal Court sent that issue, as well as damages and the question of whether the fair comment defence applies, back to the trial court to decide.
"I am of the view that determination of these issues requires consideration of the evidence including possible drawing of inferences, all of which is best done by a trial judge," Griffin says in the decision.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2020.
The Canadian Press