'Unprecedented' damages sought in historic defamation case: Winkler

By Staff

Toronto lawyer and mediator Howard Winkler tells various news outlets that in his view CTV’s reporting on former provincial conservative Leader Patrick Brown represents the "most egregious" defamation in Canadian history. See Global News Sun Media Toronto Star Yahoo News

Brown has launched an $8-million action against CTV, claiming the broadcaster defamed him by airing a news report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by two women. Brown denied the claims but was forced to resign his leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.

“Regrettably, it is unlikely that the harm done by CTV will ever be fully repaired,” Winkler told Global News.

“This is why CTV owed such a high duty of responsibility to Mr. Brown and the public before they broadcast and published their stories,” he told the Toronto Sun newspaper.

Winkler, principal and founder of Winkler Dispute Resolution, explained to the news outlets that the special circumstances of the case account in part for the size of the damage claim, which would represent a Canadian record for defamation if awarded in full.

“We consider the defamation of Patrick Brown by CTV to be the most egregious in Canadian history,” Winkler told the Sun. “The damages sought in the statement of claim reflect this fact and will allow the court to impose what we believe should be an unprecedented amount to reflect the serious nature of the harm done to Mr. Brown and to punish CTV for its conduct.”

The statement of claim, which contains allegations yet to be proven in court, says polls indicated Brown was on track to unseat Kathleen Wynne as premier of Ontario before the “widespread and sensationalized” news report delivered an “almost immediate death blow” to his reputation and political career and changed the political landscape in the province for some time to come.

CTV has acknowledged errors in its original report, but company spokesman Matthew Garrow told the Sun that the broadcaster “stands by its reporting and will vigorously defend it in court.”

Winkler tells his client is approaching the case with optimism.

“Mr. Brown has always denied what was reported by CTV and he has faith in the judicial system to, as best it can, vindicate his reputation, compensate him for his loss of reputation and to send a message to CTV that with the privilege of its media power comes the responsibility to properly investigate before broadcasting and publishing statements which they know will lead to the destruction of a person’s reputation,” he says.

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