Ross v. New Brunswick Teachers’ Association et al., 2001 NBCA 62

In The Court of Appeal of New Brunswick

[1] This appeal is from a decision of Justice Paul S. Creaghan of the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick sitting without a jury in an action for defamation in which he found that the appellant, Josh Beutel, had defamed the respondent, Malcolm Ross (Ross v. New Brunswick Teachers' Association et al. (1998), 1998 CanLII 9142 (NB QB), 199 N.B.R. (2d) 245).

[2] The trial judge found that, in the course of a workshop presentation that Beutel made to an audience of teachers on the subject of Jewish history and the Holocaust, Beutel had imputed that Ross was a Nazi. He held that such imputation was actionable defamation, although not malicious, and it was not defensible as fair comment. He awarded damages in the sum of $7,500.

[3] Beutel now appeals the findings of the trial judge alleging that he erred in two respects: finding that Beutel's presentation was defamatory of Ross, and if it was defamatory, finding that the defence of fair comment did not avail. In his cross-appeal, Ross submits that the trial judge erred in finding that a "good deal" of the Beutel presentation was fair comment, in finding only one defamation while there were multiple defamations made by Beutel during his presentation and in failing to award general damages for each separate defamation, and lastly in finding that Beutel acted without malice.