A Jewish former Canadian senator active in the fight against antisemitism has been successful in getting dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against her by a Canadian Arabic-language newspaper that she criticized for supporting Hezbollah.
Linda Frum, who retired from the Canadian Senate in August 2022 in order to focus on fighting antisemitism, said that she hired security experts in the US to conduct a risk assessment before making the decision to fight the lawsuit from the Montreal-based Sada Al Mashrek newspaper, the Canadian Jewish News reported.
The basis of the defamation claim revolved around a tweet Frum made in which she described the publication as the “official voice of Hezbollah in Canada,” according to the report. She later corrected the tweet to say they were the “unofficial” voice.
Hezbollah is designed as a terrorist entity by the Canadian government.
“I don’t want to sound glib, because taking this on, no matter who you are, it is a burden, it is oppressive and it can be frightening at times when you think ‘who am I up against exactly.’ I’m up against people who are aligned and support Hezbollah. That’s not an easy fight to engage in,” she told the CJN.
The lawsuit alleged that the newspaper’s reputation and finances were damaged by two tweets Frum posted in April 2022 after it published an interview with politician Patrick Brown who was running for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party. In the tweets, Frum criticized Brown's comparison of Ukrainian refugees to Palestinian Arabs and his position against the Conservatives' pledge to relocate Canada’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.
The lawsuit, which sought $2.5 million in damages, was dismissed on May 15 by Superior Court Justice Loretta Merritt.
“In my view, this case is about Sada wanting to silence Frum (and her network) and not about any real damage to Sada,” Justice Merritt wrote in her decision. “The potential harm to Sada is not sufficiently serious that the public interest in allowing its defamation case to proceed outweighs the public interest in protecting Frum’s expression.”
Frum described the lawsuit as attempting to intimidate her, according to the CJN, with the publication asking for an “outrageous” amount in alleged damages.
Merritt’s ruling pointed out that the $2 million that the newspaper asked for was “equal to 100 years of its annual revenue of approximately $20,000” and further stated that the publication did not convince the court it had accrued any economic loses from the Twitter posts.