Case Study: Mccann V. The Ottawa Sun

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In the case McCann v. The Ottawa Sun, 1993 CanLII 5507 (ON SC), the General Division of the Ontario Court was correct when stating the published words by The Ottawa Sun were insufficient to carry the Mayor of Pembroke’s action of defamation. At the same time, the columnist’s comments can be considered a humorous remark, which is a prove individuals in Canada have freedom of speech, which is the ability to communicate ideas without the interference of the state.

To establish a cause of action for defamation, the plaintiff must prove: the statement published was defamatory, meaning the words bring the person’s reputation into hatred, contempt or ridicule; the words, in fact, referred to the plaintiff and finally, the words have been published, meaning somebody – other than the plaintiff – had access to the statement.

In 1993, the Mayor of Pembroke, Terance McCann, claimed damages for libel against The Ottawa Sun
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In this case, McCann, the plaintiff, argued the defamatory words written in the article affected him as the representative of the City of Pembroke. However, the general rule states comments attacking substantially larger groups cannot sue for defamation unless the publication singles a particular member of the group.

Since the article does not state any specific identifiers nor includes an innuendo about the mayor, his allegation failed to complete the second part of the test. As the court stated, “an action for defamation is uniquely personal, and is based on injury to one’s personal reputation.” Therefore, his claim for defamatory words towards his persona is unverifiable and not actionable.

On the other hand, if a group tries to bring an action for defamation, they must be relatively small. If the same statement referred to all members of the group, each individual in the group has the ability to sue The Ottawa Sun for defamation, as stated in
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