BC Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver. (Black Press Media file photo)

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

df
Missionites protest logging of old-growth forests outside MLA Pam Alexis’ office

Protests in solidarity with logging blockaders on Vancouver Island; injunction heard in court today

Alan Pryor in 2015, during the Agassiz Fire Department’s 70th year. (Greg Laychak/The Observer)
Agassiz fireman celebrates 51 years at the hall

Al Pryor has been a key member in the Agassiz Fire Department since he was 16

Mike Bismeyer of Abbotsford is the recipient of the national Savita Shah Award for his work promoting kindness and anti-bullying initiatives.
Abbotsford man who was bullied as a teen receives national kindness award

Mike Bismeyer is one of two Canadians to earn Savita Shah Award

RCMP were on scene under the Menzies Street bridge in Chilliwack on Thursday, March 4, 2021 where a body was found. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE: Body found under Menzies bridge in Chilliwack that of man in 20s

Death not considered suspicious, said Chilliwack RCMP

The public survey of the 76-acre area Parr Neighbourhood will help municipal staff make policy decisions on future development. District of Mission image.
The public survey of the 76-acre area Parr Neighbourhood will help municipal staff make policy decisions on future development. District of Mission image.
Parr locals want to keep neighbourhood green, avoid densification, survey says

Mission council presented with results of a public survey on future development of 76-acre area

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read