Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Chronicles of Ezra: Yes, we're going to trial.

While I've been a regular critic of the financial antics of Ezra Levant and Rebel News and The Democracy Fund and associated, uh, creative fundraisers, I have on the other hand been decidedly low-key about the current state of Ezra's 2016 defamation lawsuit against me, as I was waiting for what I thought was the right time to start things up again. Well, that time is now, and you might want to pour yourself a tall one as this is going to take some time, and it's only the first installment. You've been warned.

As a recap, folks might remember Ezra's hilariously inappropriate and misleading 2016 Indiegogo fundraiser, ostensibly for victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires wherein Ezra made a number of howlingly inaccurate claims about the financials of that fundraiser. Many, many, many people pointed out, with clear arithmetic, the inaccuracy of Ezra's claims about how "100%" of the donations would get to the Red Cross (they didn't), and how all that money would be turned over in time for it to be triply "matched" by provincial and federal governments (it wasn't). None of this was a secret, the misrepresentations were screamingly obvious and lots of people said so. Predictably, Ezra did not take this criticism well and, out of all those critics, he chose to sue me.

Oddly, even though his own Statement of Claim admitted that most of my claims were correct, Ezra made it clear this court case was going to happen, so I hunkered down and started preparing, and here's where things got interesting as, after a few months of preparation for an actual trial, my lawyer at the time (again, 2016) suggested that there was this spanking new Ontario "anti-SLAPP" legislation and it seemed custom-made for exactly my case, as it addressed virtually every single issue related to Ezra's idiotic action. Many people who were familiar with that area of Ontario law looked it over as well, and unanimously agreed that there was no way I could lose, it was a no-brainer, this would be over by dinner time and any sane, competent judge hearing this anti-SLAPP motion would send Ezra packing

I lost. Stunningly, I lost.

Not just the motion. No, we moved this on to the Ontario Court of Appeal, confident that the allegedly more accomplished and competent judges there would correct the thigh-sucking stupidity of the motions judge.

Again, I lost.

Finally, as a number of other anti-SLAPP motions at the time seemed to have been decided, well, idiotically, a number of these cases were being filed with the Supreme Court of Canada, in the hopes that that august body would make sense of all this chaos and fix the travesty inflicted by a collection of Ontario judges. And while the SCoC agreed to hear some of those appeals, they bafflingly chose not to hear mine. So that was the end of that road. And here's where I must, sadly, get a little classless and tasteless, but you'll understand why after I explain it.

Quite a number of people since then have asked me, "Geez, CC, I don't get it. Your case could not have been a more perfect example of something that that legislation should have kicked savagely to the curb. How in the living fuck did you lose?" And here comes the classlessness and tastelessness.

Because the motions judge was a total fucking imbecile.

I will expand on that point later but there's no other way to say it -- the motions judge who heard this motion was so inexplicably incompetent and ignorant, I would not trust her to put two coats of wax on my car. I can safely say (and this will be the topic of a future post in this series) that she did not make a single correct finding throughout the entire ruling. Seriously, not one -- the ruling was one ignorant, uneducated, dumbass finding after another. Let me give a couple examples so you don't have to take my word for it.

One of the fundamental properties of Ontario's anti-SLAPP legislation makes it clear that, in such a motion, a defendant (in this case, me) needed to present a single "valid" defense. Let me make sure you understand what that means; it means that, among other things, I need show nothing more than a defense that I could at least plausibly and reasonably argue at trial. Note well that it was not the motion judge's place to rule on that defense as to whether it would win or not; rather, it was her job to do nothing more than find that it was a defense that would at least have some chance at trial. And one of the defenses I presented: That Ezra had not served me with a legally-required Notice of Libel.

Pause to take that in.

Just one of my presented valid defenses was that I had never been served with a Notice of Libel (as required under Ontario defamation law). That should have been a slam dunk. It should have been a no-brainer. Instead, the motions judge -- completely buffaloed by Ezra's lawyer -- inexplicably found that a Notice of Libel doesn't apply to social media. Seriously. Rather than (correctly) find that a missing Notice of Libel could at least be a valid defense at trial, she decided to overstep her authority spectacularly and rule on the applicability of Ontario defamation law to all of social media.

I'm not joking, this is the level of eye-rolling intellectualism of that ruling, but I'll toss in one more example just for entertainment value.

After the hearing but before the ruling came out, what exploded all over YouTube was a recording of Ezra with ex-Rebeler Caolan Robertson, wherein Ezra is heard admitting quite clearly that he had sued "some guy in Ottawa for $90,000" just to fuck me over and tie me up for five years. Now, in a sane universe, this sort of thing would normally be considered pretty good evidence of a SLAPP suit; that is, a guy admitting that, well, yeah, it was a SLAPP suit. And did that revelation have any value in my case? You'll never guess what happened next. Really, you won't.

The motions judge refused to admit that recording as evidence, for a couple stunning reasons. First, she found that there was no compelling evidence that the voice on the recording was actually Ezra ... despite Ezra's lawyer admitting in open court that it was him. I have no words for this. Truly, I don't. Ezra's lawyer openly conceded that that was his client on the recording, while the judge subsequently found that, gosh darn it, there was just no way to know.

More outrageously, she found that just referring to some guy in Ottawa who Ezra sued for $90,000 for bad-mouthing his fundraiser could not be assumed to be me, despite there being no one else that fit that bill.

Finally (and most astonishingly stupidly) the motions judge found that the recording, even if legitimate, was irrelevant to the matter before her. Let me interpret that for you: the judge found that something being a SLAPP suit could not be inferred from someone openly admitting that they had, in fact, filed a SLAPP suit.

Are you starting to understand my annoyance? (There's more of this indescribable idiocy, but what I've presented should at least give you an idea of what level of incompetence we're dealing with here.)

The ruling, when it came out, was a stunner, and we of course immediately filed an appeal on the grounds of, well, terminal dumbfuckitude. (OK, not really, but I am not exaggerating all that much.) The assumption was that, hey, we just need to point out the obvious dumbfuckitude, whereupon the intellectual stalwarts at the Court of Appeal would fix it and we could go on our merry way. I will keep this short, and say only that the panel of judges at Ontario's CoA were -- unbelievably -- even more incompetent than the motions judge. (And don't get me started on the crippling dumbth of Canada's SCoC, who accepted some of the anti-SLAPP appeals put before them, but astonishingly chose to reject the most obvious travesty of justice -- mine. Seriously, don't get me started on those cretins.)

Which brings us to the obvious question: Uh, CC, isn't it sort of dangerous to take a massive, steaming dump on these judges given that you might have to end up in front of one of them? A fair point, but the way these judges so egregiously fucked this up has, sadly, forced my hand to explain all of this, and here's why.

I am firing up my fundraiser to take this on, and while you're certainly welcome to pop over there and throw a few bucks in, you might as well just stick around until I'm done, as I suspect you'll find the rest of this enlightening. But what does my fundraiser have to do with terminally boneheaded judges? I'm glad you asked, and it works like this.

I'm sure there are going to be people who want to support me, but they'll look at the results of my anti-SLAPP motion, and of its appeal, and quite reasonably think, "Gosh, if CC couldn't even win those, is there any reason to think he'll do better at trial? I mean, could I just be throwing money away on a lost cause?" Which is why, as much as it pains me, I had no choice but to explain why the entire anti-SLAPP workflow was an utter clusterfuck of the most massive imbecilitude, and that no one should take those rulings too seriously. And while I have no guarantee not to get an equally imbecilic judge for trial, I can at least assure one and all that I will now be watching carefully, and not make any assumptions about competence. Not anymore. But that's not why we're here as we are just getting to the part that might make some folks more enthusiastic about supporting my defense, so pay attention because here's where it gets good.

Shortly after Ezra filed his action in 2016, since it was filed under Simplified Rules in Ontario, each of us had two hours to question the other, and Ezra's lawyer took advantage to do that in October of 2016, wherein he demanded all sorts of clearly irrelevant information that had fuck-all to do with the action, but it was his right, I answered his questions and handed over to him everything he asked for that was in my possession. It was at that point that my then-lawyer educated me on the anti-SLAPP legislation, so we moved on to that immediately, leaving the previous proceedings dormant where they were, and I'm betting you can see where I'm going with this.

I have not yet had my 2-hour questioning of Ezra and, given all I've learned over the years, I can guarantee I will have some very specific questions, and I will be demanding a good deal of financial disclosure from Ezra regarding his petitions, his fundraisers, his (alleged) charitable status, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Let me say that more bluntly: Given that Ezra was imprudent enough to sue me for defamation for calling him a "grifter" and for pointing out that he was misrepresenting financial aspects of his fundraiser, he has left the door wide open for me to demand that he hand over to me copious details of how all the financing works at Rebel News. And I plan on doing just that -- I will be demanding full disclosure on all the fundraisers he's run, and the petitions he's run, and legal actions he's filed (and fundraised for). I will insist that he turn over details of the millions he's raised for his "Save Pastor Art" campaign, as well as financial details of where all that money eventually went. I will make it clear that Ezra will cough up the financials of his "Trucker Lawyer" crowdfunding. And I will name names, demanding to know the compensation for Rebel News' favourite lawyers such as Sarah Miller and Chad Williamson, and whether there was any quid pro quo, and so on.

You get the idea by now -- as I have yet to question Ezra, quite simply, it's my turn, and I'm going to take advantage of it. And if Ezra resists and refuses to hand over what I ask for? Well, let me introduce you to irony, as here's a snippet of Ezra himself back in 2009, gloating about how being the defendant in a defamation action gives him unfettered freedom to tear into the plaintiff's personal data:

"Until yesterday, I was just a pundit, criticizing them from time to time. Now I've got standing: I'm a prospective defendant in a legal action. That doesn't just give me political and media authority to criticize them, it gives me tremendous legal tools to go after them, too. I mean, just stop for a moment to consider all of their internal documents I'll have access to in discoveries. Media pundits don't have access to hundreds of internal e-mails or memos. Defendants in defamation lawsuits do. It's going to be a feast -- and it's all going to be done in the bright lights of a court of law, and not a kangaroo court of the type preferred by Awan or Warman."

Read the whole piece, but concentrate on the above, wherein Ezra is practically creaming himself as to how being the defendant gives him access to, well, whatever the fuck he wants. And this might be the first time I can safely say that I agree with Ezra, since if I meet with any resistance or stone-walling, I will be reading Ezra's own words back to him in open court. Count on it.

And now you see what this was all about. For years, countless folks have muttered, "Man, that Ezra Levant is raking in all that dosh, and there's no transparency, and there's no accountability, and man, would it ever be sweet if someone had the legal right to rip the lid off that pit of fucking snakes and expose where all that money is going!"

At this point, that would be me, and that's why a lot of people should really, really, really want to get behind this. Because I will be demanding full financial disclosure from Ezra regarding his years of, uh, fundraising, and when I get it, I will do everything I can to add whatever I can add legally to the public record so everyone else gets to see it. At this point, given Ezra's own words about what fun it is to be a defendant in terms of demanding disclosure, he is going to have a hard time arguing that he has no obligation to disclose, and my plan is to dig into things like The Democracy Fund as well, to see how money passes between all those folks.

So, let's wrap this up for now, but not to worry, there will be far more of this in the near future, but let's resolve a couple issues.

First, if this sounds like something you want to get behind (and let me assure you, after what this has cost me over the years, I am pretty fucking pissed and in no mood to settle and I am absolutely going into this with a bad attitude), then as I mentioned before, here's the relevant fundraiser.

But don't stop there. Get the word out, particularly to people in positions of prominence who can amplify this. Like I said, given how much money this has cost me over the years (money which I will never get back), I am in no mood to play nice, and I am totally ready to kick some pasty ass. You can make of that what you will.

Finally, this is just the first post in what will be a lengthy series, all of whose titles will be prefixed with the phrase, "Chronicles of Ezra" for convenient searchability. Because that's just the helpful kind of guy I am.

I think that should do for now. Now it's your turn.

P.S. Don't be surprised if I regularly updates these posts with a P.S. or two. So check back regularly to see if anything's changed.

P.P.S. Comments are fully moderated, as I have no patience with people who want to get into pissing contests. You can leave reasonable comments, and ask reasonable questions. Everything else will get turfed.


Anonymous said...

It's a sad state of affairs when a private citizen has to do this and not... well some people employed by the Gov over his "alleged" grifting and tax statuses.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's bullshit you have to go through this. How do these clowns pass the bar, much less get appointed as a judge?

I hope you bankrupt that piece of human garbage, and somehow make illegal for him to "fund-raise" (i.e. Grift) again.

thwap said...

I wonder how many judges would shamelessly twist the law to protect an ideological soul-mate?