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

Missing North Delta senior found deceased

88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera had been missing since the morning of Friday, May 15

$2,000 reward for info on suburban trap after raccoon dies

Animal rights groups say there was no need for the trap

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

North Delta crime beat, week of May 11

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Most Read