Defamation In The Blogosphere: Baglow v Smith


In introduction to Baglow v. Smith, 2015 ONSC 1175 ["Baglow"], an action for defamation involving political bloggers, Madam Justice Polowin described political debate in the Internet blogosphere as, "rude, aggressive, sarcastic, hyperbolic, insulting, caustic and/or vulgar." She further stated that, "it is not for the faint of heart." Baglow is a case around the alleged defamation of the plaintiff through a blog post by one of the defendants. The plaintiff felt that the blog post went "too far" and sought to hold the blog post author, and the moderators of the message board, liable for defamation.


The following is a summary of the facts as laid out by Justice Polowin:

"The plaintiff, Dr. Baglow, is the owner and operator of an Internet blog site known as "Dawg's Blawg" on which he posts left-wing opinions and commentary on political and public interest issues.

The defendants, Mark and Connie Fournier, are a married couple who moderate a message board on the Internet called "Free Dominion". They describe Free Dominion as a venue for the expression of "conservative" viewpoints.

The defendant, Roger Smith, whose pseudonym in the blogosphere is "Peter O'Donnell", is a conservative or right-wing commentator who comments or posts frequently on Free Dominion and other blogs including Dawg's Blawg. On August 10, 2010, Mr. Smith, posting under the pseudonym Peter O'Donnell, posted a lengthy comment on Free Dominion which, among other things, referred to the plaintiff as "one of the Taliban's more vocal supporters". The plaintiff objected to this comment as being defamatory and requested that the defendant Fourniers remove it from Free Dominion, which they refused to do.

As a result of the Fournier's refusal to remove the post, Dr. Baglow brought an action for defamation against Mr. Smith and the Fourniers.


This matter first appeared in court in 2011 when the defendants brought a motion for summary judgment before Justice Annis, Baglow v. Smith, 2011 ONSC 5131. Justice Annis granted the motion for summary judgement on the grounds that there was no genuine issue for trial as to whether the comments were capable of being considered defamatory. Further, he found that even if there was a genuine issue for trial as to whether the comments were capable of being considered defamatory, the defendants would be entitled to rely on the defence of fair comment. The plaintiff appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, Baglow v. Smith...

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