BC Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver. (Black Press Media file photo)

Appeals court says 2011 article was ‘attack’ on Andrew Weaver in defamation suit

The article, Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years, was written by Timothy Ball

The B.C. Court of Appeals has found an article written about Andrew Weaver in 2011 was defamatory after the claim was dismissed by a trial judge in 2018.

The 1,179-word article titled Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years, written by Timothy Ball slams Weaver’s qualifications as an academic. Ultimately, Justice Susan Griffin concluded — and was supported unanimously — Ball’s words were an “attack” on Weaver that would lower his standing in the community.

Focusing most heavily on the public debate aspect of climate change, Griffin wrote in her decision the original judge failed to recognize Ball was a “qualified person in the field” who bore the title ‘Dr.’ and referred to matters in a way that suggested he had “a degree of knowledge or expertise in the field that was greater than that of the ordinary reader.”

Griffin stated that debates around climate change often take place online, but that many “internet publications purport to report news and information without employing standards of professional journalism.”

READ ALSO: BC Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver to step away from party, will sit as independent

At the time of publication, Weaver was teaching at the University of Victoria as a professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Science. He held a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in applied mathematics from Cambridge University.

Weaver, considered a leading voice for action to address climate change, became a Member of the Legislative Assembly in 2013 and was leader of the B.C. Green Party from 2015 t0 2020.

Ball, a retired professor from the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg, holds a PhD from the faculty of science of Queen Mary College, University of London, for which his field of study was climatology. Called a “climate skeptic,” Ball holds the view that concerns about climate change are overstated and not supported by true science.

READ ALSO: B.C. Green leader battles sound-bite storm over going zero-emission

According to the decision, the two men were aware of their differing views prior to the article. Weaver was upset when he came across the article and his lawyer demanded a retraction and an apology from Canada Free Press. Weaver’s lawyer also demanded an apology from Ball.

Canada Free Press retracted the article and apologized four days later. Ball did not immediately issue an apology and Weaver filed a civil suit.

More than a month later, Ball issued an apology and filed a response to the civil claim. His response stated that some of the statements in the article were true, while others were opinion and fair comment.

“Applying the classic test of whether the words have a tendency to injure the person’s reputation in the estimation of reasonable right‑thinking persons, the words were defamatory,” stated Griffin. “A reasonable person would read the article as alleging that Dr. Weaver was not professionally competent or qualified and was academically biased in his field of climate science.”



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Green Party

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Small fire extinguished at Thornhill community grounds

Camper destroyed and some trees burned

Tradition and technology: Nisga’a Elementary Secondary’s plan for grad

NESS joins other schools in northwest B.C. using video and streaming

What happens to a community garden during a pandemic?

Green Thumb Garden Society has made some changes, hopes for more volunteers and members

Firefighter drops eggs 65 ft. for kids’ science project

Elementary students attempt to determine ideal packaging to cushion eggs

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

DFO allowing at-sea observers again if safe work procedures in place

May 15 fishery notice lays out conditions for allowing at-sea observers onboard amid COVID-19

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

Most Read