CITATION: Gill v. Maciver, 2022 ONSC 1279  
COURT FILE NO.: CV-20-652918-0000  
DATE: 20220224  
ONTARIO  
SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE  
)
)
BETWEEN:  
Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill and Dr. Ashvinder  
Kaur Lamba  
) Rocco Galati, for the Plaintiffs  
)
)
)
Plaintiffs  
and –  
)
)
Dr. Angus Maciver, Dr. Nadia Alam, André  
Picard, Dr. Michelle Cohen, Dr. Alex  
Nataros, Dr. Ilan Schwartz, Dr. Andrew  
Fraser, Dr. Marco Prado, Timothy  
) Howard Winkler and Eryn Pond, for the  
) Defendant Dr. Angus Maciver  
)
) Julian Porter, for the Defendant Nadia Alam  
)
) Jaan Lilles and Katie Glowach, for the  
) Defendants Dr. David Jacobs, Dr. Alex  
) Nataros, Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, Dr. Nadia  
) Alam and Dr. Michelle Cohen  
)
Caulfield, Dr. Sajjad Fazel, Alheli Picazo,  
Bruce Arthur, Dr. Terry Polevoy, Dr. John  
Van Aerde, Dr. Andrew Boozary, Dr. Abdu  
Sharkawy, Dr. David Jacobs, Tristan  
Bronca, Carly Weeks, The Pointer, The  
Hamilton Spectator, Société-Radio Canada,  
the Medical Post  
) Susan Toth, for the Defendant Dr. John Van  
) Aerde  
)
Defendants  
) Andrea Gonsalves and Caitlin Milne, for the  
) Defendant Dr. Andrew Fraser  
)
) Alex Pettingill, for the Defendants Dr. Ilan  
) Schwartz, Dr. Marco Prado, Timothy  
) Caulfield and Dr. Sajjad Fazel  
)
) Timothy Flannery, for the Defendant Dr.  
) Terry Polevoy  
)
) Daniel Iny and Melanie Anderson, for the  
) Defendant Dr. Andrew Boozary  
)
) Meredith Hayward and Michael Binetti, for  
) the Defendants Tristan Bronca and The  
) Medical Post  
)
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) Brian Radnoff and David Seifer, for the  
) Defendant The Pointer Group Incorporated  
)
) Andrew MacDonald, Carlos Martins and  
) Emma Romano, for the Defendants André  
) Picard and Carly Weeks  
)
) George Pakozdi, for the Defendant Alheli  
) Picazo  
)
) Emma Carver, for the Defendant Bruce  
) Arthur  
)
)
)
)
)
) HEARD: September 27, 28 and 29, 2021  
REASONS FOR DECISION  
Stewart J.  
Nature of the Motions  
[1]  
The Plaintiffs have initiated proceedings as against these more than 20 Defendants and  
claim damages in the aggregate of approximately $12,000,000.00 for defamation and other  
purported causes of action.  
[2]  
The Defendants have brought these several motions pursuant to s. 137.1 of the Courts of  
Justice Act (“CJA”), R.S.O 1990, c C.43. Section 137.1 allows for the dismissal by judicial order  
of a proceeding that limits debate on matters of public interest. These motions are more commonly  
referred to as “anti-SLAPP” motions. A SLAAP refers to a strategic lawsuit against public  
participation, a characterization which the Defendants argue aptly attaches to the proceedings  
brought against them.  
[3]  
The Plaintiffs argue that the motions do not satisfy the test for dismissal at this early stage  
and therefore submit that the relief requested by the Defendants should not be granted.  
[4]  
The most relevant portions of Section 137.1 of the CJA provide as follows:  
Dismissal of proceeding that limits debate  
Purposes  
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137.1 (1) The purposes of this section and sections 137.2 to 137.5 are,  
(a) to encourage individuals to express themselves on matters of public  
interest;  
(b) to promote broad participation in debates on matters of public interest;  
(c) to discourage the use of litigation as a means of unduly limiting  
expression on matters of public interest; and  
(d) to reduce the risk that participation by the public in debates on matters  
of public interest will be hampered by fear of legal action. 2015, c. 23, s.3.  
Definition, “expression”  
(2) In this section,  
“expression” means any communication, regardless of whether it is made verbally or non-  
verbally, whether it is made publicly or privately, and whether or not it is directed at a  
person or entity. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.  
Order to dismiss  
(3) On motion by a person against whom a proceeding is brought, a judge shall, subject  
to subsection (4), dismiss the proceeding against the person if the person satisfies the  
judge that the proceeding arises from an expression made by the person that relates to a  
matter of public interest. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.  
No dismissal  
(4) A judge shall not dismiss a proceeding under subsection (3) if the responding party  
satisfies the judge that,  
(a) there are grounds to believe that,  
(i) the proceeding has substantial merit, and  
(ii) the moving party has no valid defence in the proceeding;  
and  
(b) the harm likely to be or have been suffered by the responding party as  
a result of the moving party’s expression is sufficiently serious that the  
public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the  
public interest in protecting that expression. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.  
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[5]  
It is not disputed that the tort of defamation is governed by a well-established test requiring  
that three criteria be met:  
(a) that the words complained of were published, meaning that  
they were communicated to at least one person other than the  
plaintiff;  
(b) the words complained of referred to the plaintiff; and  
(c) the impugned words were defamatory, in the sense that they  
would tend to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a  
reasonable person.  
[6]  
Even if the definition of defamation is met, a defendant may have several defences to rely  
on to escape liability. These include justification, fair comment, qualified privilege and responsible  
journalism (see: Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61).  
[7]  
In order to properly consider the issues raised by a motion brought pursuant to s. 137.1  
evidence may be filed by the parties to provide background and context to an impugned statement  
as well as to establish the chances of success of the claims and any available defences.  
[8]  
Subsections 137.1(3) and (4) of the CJA set out a two-part test for a motion to dismiss an  
action on this basis. First, the defendant has the onus of showing that the plaintiff’s proceeding  
arises from an expression that “relates to a matter of public interest”. If the defendant meets that  
threshold, the court must dismiss the action unless the plaintiff satisfies the court that there are  
grounds to believe the proceeding has substantial merit, that there are grounds to believe that the  
defendant has no valid defence, and that the harm suffered by the plaintiff is sufficiently serious  
such that the public interest in allowing the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest  
in protecting that expression.  
[9]  
It is instructive to repeat that, once it has been established by the Defendants that the  
impugned communication relates to a matter of public interest, the burden on these motions rests  
on the Plaintiffs to establish that there is substantial merit to each of their claims.  
[10] The three factors that comprise the plaintiff`s onus to meet the second branch of the test  
are conjunctive. If the plaintiff fails to meet the onus on any one of those three requirements, the  
action must be dismissed.  
[11] The Supreme Court of Canada has considered the test for dismissal under s. 137.1 and has  
expressed views on issues related to the approach to be applied thereunder in two recent decisions:  
1704604 Ontario Ltd. V. Pointes Protection Association, 2020 SCC 22 and Bent v. Platnick, 2020  
SCC 23.  
[12] In Pointes Protection, substantial meritwas defined as a real prospect of success. The  
requirement was further refined in Bent v. Platnick as demonstrating a prospect of success that  
need not be demonstrably likely, but one that weighs more in favour of the plaintiff.  
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[13] Substantial merit has been described as a more demanding standard than that applicable on  
a motion to strike a claim pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to disclose  
a cause of action. Accordingly, more than merely some chance of success is required. In Bent v.  
Platnick, was stated (at para. 49):  
for an underlying proceeding to have “substantial merit”, it must have a  
real prospect of success in other words, a prospect of success that, while  
not amounting to a demonstrated likelihood of success, tends to weigh more  
in favour of the plaintiff. In context with “grounds to believe”, this means that  
the motion judge needs to be satisfied that there is a basis in the record and  
the law taking into account the stage of the proceeding for drawing such  
a conclusion. This requires that the claim be legally tenable and supported by  
evidence that is reasonably capable of belief.  
[14] In Bent v. Platnick, the Court went on to state (at paras 87 and 88):  
In Pointes Protection, this Court clarifies the fact that unlike s. 137.1(3),  
which requires a showing on a balance of probabilities, s. 137.1(4)(a)  
expressly contemplates a “grounds to believe” standard instead: para.35. This  
requires a basis in the record and the law taking into account the stage of  
the litigation for finding that the underlying proceeding has substantial merit  
and that there is no valid defence.  
I elaborate here that, in effect, this means that any basis in the record and the  
law will be sufficient. By definition, “a basis” will exist if there is a single  
basis in the record and the law to support a finding of substantial merit and  
the absence of a valid defence. That basis must of course be legally tenable  
and reasonably capable of belief. But the “crux of the inquiry” is found, after  
all, in s. 137.1(4)(b), which also serves as a “robust backstop” for protecting  
freedom of expression.  
[15] The crux of the inquirytherefore is the balancing exercise required by s. 137.1(4)(b)  
which involves a weighing of the seriousness of the harm to the Plaintiffs as a result of the  
expressions of the Defendants and the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue,  
versus the public interest in protecting the expression.  
[16] Having considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties, having applied the  
provisions of the legislation referred to above which govern the determination of the issues in light  
of the principles and considerations articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the authorities  
noted above, for the reasons that follow I find that an application of the test under s. 137.1 to each  
claim, including the allegations of negligence” and “conspiracy” (which are nothing but dressed-  
up and unsubstantiated variations of the central claims of alleged defamation), must result in a  
dismissal of all claims.  
[17] I also conclude that these claims are precisely ones that are of the kind that s. 137.1 is  
designed to discourage and screen out.  
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The Plaintiffs  
[18] The Plaintiff Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill (“Dr. Gill”) is a medical doctor practising at an  
allergy, asthma and clinical immunology clinic with locations in Brampton and Milton, Ontario.  
Dr. Gill has been a member of the Ontario Medical Association (“OMA”) Governing Council and  
transparency of the OMA and the harm of escalating cuts to frontline health care. She is a founding  
member and leader of Concerned Ontario Doctors (“COD”) which operates in part as a platform  
for the expression of her views.  
[19] The undisputed evidence on the motion plainly shows that Dr. Gill is not afraid to voice  
unpopular views or to court controversy.  
[20] Dr. Gill also is a frequent commentator on issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic and  
does so frequently on her Twitter account which has attracted more than 63,000 “followers”.  
[21] Accordingly, in addition to her campaign of attack on the OMA and its leadership, Dr. Gill  
has been an outspoken critic of prevailing public health advice on how to prevent or slow Covid-  
19 infection from spreading throughout the community, using social media platforms including  
Twitter to disseminate her controversial views. In doing so, Dr Gill has suggested that the risks  
posed by the Covid-19 virus are exaggerated, vaccines are unnecessary, lockdowns are illogical,  
and hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for infection caused by the virus.  
[22] Dr. Gill has been formally and publicly cautioned by the College of Physicians and  
Surgeons of Ontario against using her position as a physician to bolster her dissemination of such  
misleading information which contradicts the positions advocated by public health authorities in  
Ontario and Canada. The prohibition contained in the Regulated Health Professions Act against  
use in a civil proceeding of documents or details of the College’s investigation requires that no  
further mention or consideration of same enter into the deliberations required by these motions.  
[23] The Plaintiff Dr. Ashvinder Kaur Lamba (“Dr. Lamba”) is a medical doctor practising as  
a physician at a long-term care home and a retirement home in Etobicoke, Ontario and is an  
addiction physician in Thornhill, Ontario. She also has a family practice in Brampton. Dr. Lamba  
is a former OMA delegate and member of the OMA Governing Council and is now Secretary of  
the Board of COD.  
[24] Dr. Lamba is to some extent a secondary protagonist with respect to the advancement of  
these claims which, in large part, arise out of matters in which Dr. Gill is the central figure. Dr.  
Lamba did not swear or file an affidavit in response to these motions. She asserts her claims only  
as against two of the Defendants and only with respect to allegations relating to statements said to  
have been made concerning her OMA activities and positions.  
[25] The multi-million dollar claims for damages made by both Plaintiffs are for reputational  
damage only, although each Plaintiff continues to be active in their professional organization and  
affairs and to practise medicine unimpeded in Ontario. As will be referred to below, the Plaintiffs  
have advanced very little basis for demonstrating that they or their reputations have been damaged  
as a result of the statements or conduct of any of the Defendants.  
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The Defendants  
[26] The Defendant Dr. Angus McIver (“Dr. McIver”) is an elderly physician who holds no  
leadership position in the OMA. He has a primary Twitter account (“@smootholdfart”) with 1206  
followers, and a now-deleted secondary Twitter account (“@vitomaciver”) which had been used  
mainly for posting photos of his dog.  
[27] The Defendant Dr. Nadia Alam (“Dr. Alam”) is a medical doctor practising as a family  
physician and anaesthetist in Ontario and is a Board Director of the Halton Hills Family Health  
Team. Dr. Alam has been and remains active in the OMA. From 2017-2020 she was a member of  
the Board of Directors of the OMA and was OMA President during 2018-2019. Dr. Alam is  
represented by two separate counsel in connection who separately address the two categories of  
allegations the Plaintiffs have made against her.  
[28] The Defendant Dr. David Jacobs (“Dr. Jacobs”) is a physician specializing in diagnostic  
radiology in Toronto. Dr. Jacobs is a leader in his specialty associations and professional governing  
bodies.  
[29] The Defendant Dr. Alex Nataros (“Dr. Nataros”) is a family physician practising medicine  
in British Columbia. Dr. Nataros is a recipient of the Leadership and Advocacy Award of the  
College of Family Physicians of Canada.  
[30] The Defendant Dr. Michelle Cohen (“Dr. Cohen”) is a family physician in Brighton,  
Ontario who is a public advocate on health policy issues, having published articles in various  
newspapers and periodicals on health policy topics.  
[31] The Defendant Dr. John Van Aerde (“Dr. Van Aerde”) is a specialist in paediatric  
medicine. Although now retired from clinical practice, Dr. Van Aerde remains active in various  
medical associations, medical education institutions as well as the Canadian Medical Association.  
[32] The Defendant Dr Andrew Fraser (“Dr. Fraser”) is a tenured professor at the University of  
Toronto Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomedical Research. He conducts research on genetic  
models of development and disease, and has significant training and experience in pathology and  
statistical analysis.  
[33] The Defendant Dr. Ilan Schwartz (“Dr. Schwartz”) is a physician with a subspecialty in  
infectious diseases, employed by the University of Alberta and the Alberta Health Services. Dr.  
Schwartz was involved in clinical trials of the use of hydroxychloroquine that were among the  
many such research investigations that showed it to be an ineffective treatment for Covid-19  
infection.  
[34] The Defendant Dr. Marco Prado (“Dr. Prado”) is a professor at Western University with  
an established expertise in biochemistry and immunology.  
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[35] The Defendant Timothy Caulfield (“Caulfield”) is a health policy and health sciences  
professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law and School of Public Health whose  
research has dealt with misinformation in the context of health care and Covid-19.  
[36] The Defendant Dr. Sajjad Fazel (“Dr. Fazel”) is a post-doctoral associate at the University  
of Calgary and also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health.  
[37] The Defendant Dr. Terry Polevoy (“Dr. Polevoy”) is a retired family physician who is an  
active leader within various medical associations, including associations of physicians in his area  
of practice and provincial associations. Dr. Polevoy is active on social media, primarily through  
his Twitter account where he frequently shares information, opinions and news stories on a variety  
of subjects including politics and health care.  
[38] The Defendant Dr. Andrew Boozary (“Dr. Boozary”) is a physician in Toronto and the  
Executive Director of Population Health and Social Medicine at the University Health Network.  
[39] The Defendant Dr. Abdu Sharkawy (“Dr. Sharkawy”) is a physician with a specialization  
in infectious diseases and internal medicine. He routinely speaks in public and using his Twitter  
account to educate members of the public on health and medicine matters.  
[40] The Defendant The Medical Post publishes both a print magazine and an online newspaper  
for Canadian physicians. The online newspaper is published daily and is only available to  
registered users or subscribers.  
[41] The Defendant Tristan Bronca has worked with the Medical Post and has become familiar  
with the scientific literature on hydroxychloroquine showing it is not an effective treatment for  
covid-19.  
[42] The Defendant The Pointer Group Incorporated (“The Pointer”) is a paid subscription-  
bases digital-only media platform that provides locally-focused news in the Peel and Greater  
Toronto Regions.  
[43] The Defendant André Picard (Picard) is the Staff Senior Health Columnist for The Globe  
and Mail where he has worked since 1987. Picard reports and writes on health and health care  
issues. He is the author of six books on health-related subjects and speaks publicly on frequent  
occasions on such matters, also using a Twitter account for that purpose.  
[44] The Defendant Carly Weeks is a Health Reporter for The Globe and Mail where she has  
been a staff writer since 2007. She writes and often speaks publicly on health-related topics and  
additionally uses a Twitter account for that purpose.  
[45] The Defendant Alheli Picazo (“Picazo”) is a freelance writer who primarily covers the  
topics of politics and health. She uses Twitter for this purpose and often tweets about the Covid-  
19 pandemic and related issues.  
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[46] The Defendant Bruce Arthur (“Arthur”) is a columnist at the Toronto Star. He uses his  
Twitter account to express personal views and concerns on a variety of topics, including the Covid-  
19 pandemic.  
[47] The Plaintiffs have discontinued their action as against the Defendants The Hamilton  
Spectator and Societe-Radio Canada.  
Preliminary Observations  
[48]  
As can be seen from the above descriptions of the Defendants, the Plaintiffs have brought  
these proceedings against more than 20 individual physicians, academics, medical and scientific  
experts, and journalists as well as against publications that have and continue to provide valuable  
information to the public about Covid-19.  
[49] In the motions before the Court, the Defendants seek to avail themselves of a provision  
enacted by the legislature that is intended to operate as a shield against anyone seeking to stifle  
debate on issues that are of interest to the public. The ultimate issue before me is whether these  
claims are such that they should be dismissed on that basis at this early stage.  
[50] The provision under which the Defendants move for orders dismissing the claims against  
them is not the first or the only available recourse by which a proceeding may be terminated or  
curtailed by the courts when appropriate. For instance, Rules 2.1.01, 20 and 21 establish bases  
upon which proceedings may be dismissed or adjudicated upon short of any full trial. No one has  
an absolute and unfettered right to pursue any civil claims through to full trial and judgment  
without confronting a possible roadblock that may bring the proceedings to a halt.  
[51] One may well wonder about the motives of these full-time physicians who remain active  
in what might fairly be described as the politics of their professional associations in bringing  
proceedings seeking staggering money judgments against such a broad array of persons whom  
they claim to perceive as having injured their reputations. The sheer variety of their targets and the  
magnitude of their claims set them up to be examined pursuant to s. 137.1.  
[52] Because there are so many claims made in these proceedings against so many Defendants,  
and so many arguments and defences advanced by them, applying the test on each of the motions  
brought on their behalf is a daunting task. However, it does appear that the claims can be grouped  
generally into 2 categories: those that arise out of statements made by some Defendants in the  
context of an OMA dispute, and those that arise out of or were provoked by the controversial views  
expressed by Dr. Gill about pandemic-related matters.  
[53] In dealing with the substance of these various motions, I may repeat the same positions  
taken by various parties, or make liberal reference to those parts of the written submissions that  
have been filed on behalf of some parties as well as the rationales for those arguments as advanced.  
[54] In several instances, some Defendants have sought to avail themselves of more than one  
available defence. As will be seen below, I consider it unnecessary to determine to any full extent  
or comment upon the defences of justification that have been asserted because I consider that the  
- Page 10 -  
additional defences of fair comment, responsible journalism and/or qualified privilege offer full  
defences to the claims and therefore no entry into what may be (at its highest) an arbitration of  
matters of scientific debate is necessary. By declining to do so, I do not purport to suggest that the  
opinions of the Plaintiffs are of equal persuasive merit to those views expressed by the Defendants,  
but only that a thorough evaluation of them for the purposes of these motions is not strictly  
required.  
[55] As a general observation, counsel for the Plaintiffs has urged the Court to agree that it must  
adopt a fairly narrow approach to the s. 137.1 analysis referred to herein, must avoid drawing any  
inferences, and must not arrive at any conclusions based on a qualitative assessment of the  
evidence tendered by the parties.  
[56] In my opinion, to adopt an overly-rigid and narrow approach to the analysis of the material  
filed in this case would be to ignore the stated purpose of the legislation as well as the “crux of the  
inquiry” and “robust backstop” descriptions employed by the Supreme Court of Canada to describe  
the balancing process that is designed to protect, in appropriate cases, freedom of expression on  
matters of public interest from the chilling prospect of litigation.  
[57] Having said that, the material filed by the parties is such that it requires very little or nothing  
by the way of credibility assessments to dispose of the motions. Rather, the expressions or conduct  
of the Defendants that are the subject of the action are basically not in dispute. The critical task is  
to determine if they are protected when the analysis established by s. 137.1 is applied. Having  
carefully considered the evidence and arguments put forward by the Plaintiffs, I nevertheless am  
of the opinion that the expressions complained of attract the protection that a s. 137.1 analysis  
permits.  
[58] For greater clarity, I view all of the expressions or statements complained of by the  
Plaintiffs to have been made on matters of public interest. The test required by s. 137.1 has been  
applied to each in order to determine the appropriate result. In each case, I should be taken to have  
accepted and adopted fully the submissions advanced on behalf of each of the Defendants.  
The OMA Dispute Claims  
A. Dr. MacIver  
[59]  
Section 137.1 places an initial burden, which is purposefully not an onerous one, on a  
defendant to satisfy the motion judge that the proceeding arises from an expression that relates to  
a matter of public interest. At this first stage of the s. 137.1 analysis, it is not legally relevant  
whether the expression is desirable or deleterious, valuable or vexatious, or whether it helps or  
hampers the public interest. The only question is whether the expression pertains to any matter of  
public interest, defined broadly.  
[60] The expression in the action brought against Dr. Maciver concerns tweets published by  
him on his Twitter feed in September 2018. In its entire context, Dr. Maciver’s expression pertains  
to the public debate about the OMA sparked by the Plaintiffs and their physician advocacy  
organization COD on Twitter and their blocking of physicians who do not agree with their views.  
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[61] When Dr. Maciver published his tweets, the Plaintiffs through COD had been engaged in  
ongoing, serious and inflammatory attacks on the OMA and its leadership on Twitter and on other  
platforms. These attacks included allegations of fraud and corruption. Dr. Maciver wanted to  
respond to the Plaintiffs’ Twitter attacks directly on their Twitter feeds that was the site of the  
public conversation but could not do so because the Plaintiffs had blocked him and others from  
engaging with them on Twitter.  
[62] Frustrated by the Plaintiffsblocking of him, Dr. Maciver tweeted the words complained  
of on his own Twitter feed. In his initial tweet, which is the primary subject of this litigation as  
against him, Dr. Maciver used some rather offensive name-calling towards the Plaintiffs. He  
deleted this tweet within days after posting it.  
[63] The following facts provide context to Dr. Maciver’s expression:  
(a) Prior to and at the time of the publication of the words complained of,  
there was significant interest in Ontario and, in particular, within the Ontario  
medical community concerning the contract negotiations between the  
Government of Ontario and the OMA, on behalf of Ontario physicians.  
(b) Since its formation, COD has taken positions critical of and has attacked  
the OMA and its leadership. The Plaintiffs, as leaders of COD, have a “lack  
of confidence in the integrity, fairness, accountability and transparency of the  
OMA.” Dr. Maciver is one of the many OMA physicians who strongly oppose  
COD’s and the Plaintiffs’ ongoing attacks on the OMA.  
(c) In October 2017, Dr. Maciver replied to a COD tweet, expressing his  
ongoing disappointment in COD “continuing to fragment the profession in  
Ontario.” Soon after his fairly benign expression of disappointment, the  
Plaintiffs blocked him from posting on their Twitter account.  
(d) The Plaintiffs also have blocked the Twitter accounts of other physicians  
who appeared to dissent from their political views concerning the OMA.  
(e) Prior to the publication of the words complained of, the Plaintiffs used  
Twitter to criticize the OMA and its leadership. These criticisms included  
allegations of fraud and corruption. Some examples of this are as follows:  
• OMA=toxic culture of misogyny, bullying & intimidation  
• None of them are held to account for their lies, unethical  
conduct, and bullying & intimidation of frontline MDs  
• Corrupt OMA’s hypocrisy on Full Display  
• We will be fully united once we truly revamp the OMA. But that  
can only happen once it’s dismantled, the vermin scurries out…  
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• The following is the epitome (so far) of the egregiousness of this  
organization and its so called “leaders” - how disgusting can they  
get?  
• Instead, corrupt OMA’s implementing draconian Code of  
Conduct to silence MDs  
• …undemocratic OMA passed Part 1 of 2 Part Code of Conduct  
to silence MDs from exposing unethical conduct  
• LAME DUCK OMA…Incoming OMA Pres Nadia Alam was  
NEVER elected by membership  
• Of course, the corrupt OMA rewards its unethical “leaders” with  
accolades and rewards. One word: karma.  
• Unbelievable hypocrisy on display  
• The corrupt OMA is taking extreme measures to muzzle your  
doctors…  
[64] Leading up to the publication of his impugned tweets in September 2018, Dr. Maciver  
became increasingly frustrated by the Plaintiffs’ attacks on the OMA and, in particular, their  
attacks on the honesty and integrity of its leadership. Dr. Maciver believed the Plaintiffs’ attacks  
were very serious charges which called for debate and response on the main forum in which they  
were being made, i.e. the Plaintiffs’ Twitter feeds. Because the Plaintiffs had blocked Dr. Maciver,  
he could not respond directly to them.  
[65] On September 4, 2018, Dr. Maciver lost his temper over the Plaintiffs’ ongoing conduct  
and what he viewed as the inflammatory positions they were taking on behalf of COD. Dr. Maciver  
reacted on his @smootholdfart account about being blocked by the Plaintiffs on Twitter. He made  
further tweets from his @vitomaciver account the same day and on September 8, 2018. From the  
outset, the primary focus of the Plaintiffs’ complaint and this action against Dr. Maciver concerns  
the words “corksoakers” and “twats” published in the initial @smootholdfart tweet.  
[66] In its entire context, Dr. Maciver’s expression pertains to the public debate about the OMA  
sparked by the Plaintiffs and COD on Twitter and their blocking on Twitter of physicians who  
dissent from their inflammatory views.  
[67] I am of the opinion that the impugned communications authored by Dr. Maciver were on  
a matter of public interest.  
[68] In terms of referencing the Plaintiffs in the initial @smootholdfart Tweet, Dr. Maciver  
understood Dr. Gill and Dr. Lamba to be the public faces of COD on Twitter. This is the only  
reason he referenced them.  
- Page 13 -  
[69] The law is clear that people have no legal duty to “always be calm, cool, kind, gentle and  
polite.” It has long been recognized by courts that “there is a distinction between actionable  
defamation and mere obscenities, insults and other verbal abuse” and “[t]he courts cannot award  
damages in favour of the victims of empty threats, insulting words or rudeness” (see: Langille et  
al v. McGrath, 2000 46809).  
[70] The law tolerates such speech not only as an expression of free speech in a free society but  
also as a safeguard against our court system being flooded with litigation.  
[71] It is clear from the words complained of and the overall context in which they were  
published on Twitter that Dr. Maciver was communicating his disapproval of the conduct of the  
Plaintiffs. The offensive language used by him is pure name-calling, and not defamation.  
[72] Although some of the language used by Dr. Maciver on Twitter may have been  
unprofessional and ill-advised, the words complained of are not defamatory and therefore not  
actionable. There is an important distinction in the law of defamation between words that are  
actionable for being defamatory and words that merely contain insults and are not actionable.  
Freedom of speech would be seriously curtailed if insulting comments, which have caused no harm  
to reputation, were actionable for being defamatory (see: Diop v. Transdev Dublin Light Rail, 2019  
IEHA 849).  
[73] On multiple occasions, Dr. Maciver has apologized to the Plaintiffs both publicly and  
privately and shown contrition for the heated language he used on Twitter. The fact of Dr.  
Maciver’s apologies was also made known within the physician community on Twitter.  
[74] On September 7, 2018, the Plaintiffs published a Facebook post to COD’s many followers  
which referred to Dr. Maciver’s “vulgarity” and repeated the allegedly offending language. In the  
post, the Plaintiffs wrongfully claimed that Dr. Maciver called them “cock sucking cunts” and  
further incorrectly told their readers that Dr. Maciver made his tweets as a leader of the OMA.  
[75] Any reputational harm to the Plaintiffs purportedly caused by Dr. Maciver’s expression is  
evidently of very low magnitude, if any has actually occurred.  
[76] Dr. Gill offered no evidence of any harm arising from Dr. Maciver’s briefly published  
expression, other than vague, unparticularized statements. In fact, it is her own evidence that she  
remains “a highly regarded member of [her] profession.” Dr. Lamba has not seen fit to tender  
evidence on this motion to describe the alleged harm that she claims to have suffered.  
[77] Even if for the purposes of this motion the words complained of are found to be defamatory  
of the Plaintiffs and that some general damages to their reputation are therefore to be presumed,  
then the record before me supports a conclusion that any damages suffered are likely to be assessed  
as merely nominal and insufficient to warrant continuation of this proceeding.  
[78] An application of the s. 137(4)(b) “crux of the matter” analysis therefore requires a  
dismissal of the Plaintiffs’ claims against Dr. Maciver. For the reasons he asserts, the public  
- Page 14 -  
interest in protecting Dr. Maciver’s right to speak out on a matter of public interest outweighs any  
considerations that might otherwise favour allowing the action against him to continue.  
[79] Accordingly, the relief requested by Dr. Maciver is hereby allowed and the action against  
him is dismissed.  
B. Dr. Alam and the Medical Post  
[80] In 2018 Dr. Alam was President of the OMA. The Plaintiffs objected to what they described  
as Dr. MacIvor’s vulgarity and demanded via Facebook that the OMA and Dr. Alam censure him.  
[81] Dr. Alam was then called upon to comment on this situation by members of the OMA as  
well. As such, Dr. Alam has raised a very strong defence that her response was written on an  
occasion of qualified privilege in furtherance of her duties to communicate to OMA membership  
and to respond to what may fairly be described as an attack upon her and the OMA by the Plaintiffs.  
[82] The basic elements of the attack by the Plaintiffs may be seen in a statement published by  
the Plaintiffs on their Facebook page which states, in part:  
We are your Ontario Doctors  
September 7, 2018  
#METOOMEDICINE  
&
THE TOXIC ONTARIO MEDICAL  
ASSOCIATIONPART 1  
A glimpse of OMA’s toxicity. This is what we and frontline MDs are  
subjected to in private by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) “leaders”  
and staff. Now one of the OMA’s “leaders” feels so empowered that he now  
publicly makes his racist, sexist and misogynistic comments on Twitter. Slang  
for “cock sucking cunts”.  
This vulgarity is from Dr. Angus Maciver: The OMA’s “distinguished leader”  
who was awarded “OMA Life Member Award” for his ongoing 20 years on  
the corrupt OMA Council, currently as President of the Perth County Medical  
Society and previously as the Chair of the OMA Section of General Surgery.  
He is also a “leader” of the Ontario Association of General Surgeons, a former  
Royal College of Canada examiner and former University of Western Ontario  
Schulich School of Medicine faculty.  
This is the “new”, “reformed” and “progressive” OMA. OMA; its leaders  
never practice what they preach and either repeatedly engage in, encourage  
or turn a blind eye to such disgusting behaviours. This is the toxic and  
pervasive culture at OMA’s corrupt core.  
- Page 15 -  
… This is the toxic and pervasive culture at the OMA’s corrupt core. In the  
past 72 hrs, not a single OMA “leader”, medical “leadership” organization or  
“feminist” advocacy “leader” has condemned this OMA “leader”. Silence of  
acceptance has followed Maciver’s vulgarity. It is unacceptable that still in  
2018, it is not the vulgarity of comments or actions that evoke condemnation,  
but rather the privileged status of the harasser that evoke silence, and even  
worse, further empowerment of the harasser by those who witnessed it.  
The OMA is a toxic and self-serving organization that is corrupt to its core.…  
As a young, visible minority, female Canadian frontline MDs, fighting the  
corrupt establishment that is the OMA has felt akin to battling Goliath. But  
we are empowered by the truth and driven by knowing we are fighting for the  
future of Ontario’s healthcare and for you: our patients and our colleagues.  
… We demand action from the Ontario Government NOW: a prompt, full  
independent forensic review of the corrupt OMA.  
-Dr Kulvinder Gill, President Concerned Ontario Doctors  
-Dr. Ashvinder Lamba, Board Director Concerned Ontario Doctors  
#exposcoma #carenotcuts #onpoli #onhealth #cdnhealth #healthcare #cdnpol  
#sexism #racism #misogyny FordNation Christine Elliott Robin Martin Effie  
Triantafilopoulos Ontario PC Party Andrea Horwath Ontario NDP  
[83] On September 8, 2018, after the Plaintiffs posted their statement on Facebook, some OMA  
members formed the mistaken belief that Dr. Maciver had been speaking on behalf of the OMA  
or that he was an OMA staff member when he posted the tweet referred to.  
[84] Dr. Alam consulted with senior management and staff of the OMA and it was agreed that  
she should contact Dr. Maciver in order to encourage him to apologize for what he had reportedly  
said, and Dr. Alam did so. Dr. Maciver advised that he had tried and would continue trying to  
resolve the dispute.  
[85] On September 9, 2018, Drs. Gill and Lamba posted a further statement on Facebook, a  
partial transcript of which is as follows:  
We are Your Ontario Doctors  
September 9, 2018  
#Metoomedicine & the toxic Ontario medical associationpart 2  
… We have never spoken to or interacted with OMA’s decorated leader, Dr.  
Angus Maciver, in our personal or professional lives. We have never  
- Page 16 -  
interacted with him ever on any social media platform. But he has now forced  
himself into our lives. Six days ago, this OMA leader felt so empowered that  
he directly attacked the only two young, female, visible minority MDs on the  
entire Board of Concerned Ontario Doctors, using slang to call us “cock  
sucking cunts” on Twitter as other OMA leaders enabled and encouraged him.  
There was no apology. There were no condemnations from any of the OMA  
leaders or any of the many medical leadership organizations he is affiliated  
with. All these medical “leaders” condoned his toxic behavior and vulgarity  
with their silence. The OMA normalized it.  
… What is most disturbing is that all of the OMA “leaders” remained silent  
publicly. Not a single OMA leader condemned their decorated leader for his  
overtly vulgar misogyny. Not one.  
… The most disturbing was that after 6 days of silence, the OMA President  
Nadia Alam’s response is to defend and empower him, validate his lies and  
attack us (see Picture 3 in comments below). The corrupt OMA, that MDs are  
forced to be members of and pay millions to for it to protect our “best”  
interests, defends the harasser and his professional misconduct. The OMA  
President Nadia Alam’s first statement on Twitter came this morning (see  
Picture 4 in comments below), 6 days after the OMA leader’s misogyny and  
only following mounting public pressure. Again Alam does not condemn him.  
she defends and empowers him, validates his lies and attacks us. This is failed  
leadership.  
This is the same OMA President who just months ago, on International  
Women’s Day, said she was “grateful that brave women speak up to change  
culture from the ground up like #metoo” (see Picture 5 in comments below).  
Now Alam is attacking those “brave women” because it is the toxic and  
corrupt OMA that she is defending.  
The OMA President Alam’s empowerment of the harasser comes as a  
selfproclaimed “feminist” & #metoo “advocate”. Her response is deemed by  
the corrupt OMA to be the only word and is supposed to close the chapter.  
But it won’t. Because #TimesUP. MDs have had enough of OMA’s toxicity.  
… As we have said before (Part 1: goo.gl/GFJ485), the OMA is a deeply  
corrupt, authoritarian, abusive and toxic organization. It is the biggest threat  
to the future of healthcare in ON and Canada. Ford’s government must  
immediately undertake a fully independent forensic review of the OMA.  
-Dr Kulvinder Gill, President Concerned Ontario Doctors  
-Dr. Ashvinder Lamba, Board Director Concerned Ontario Doctors  
- Page 17 -  
#exposcoma #carenotcuts #onpoli #onhealth #cdnhealth #healthcare #cdnpol  
#sexism #racism #misogyny FordNation Christine Elliott Robin Martin Effie  
Triantafilopoulos Ontario PC Party Andrea Horwath Ontario NDP  
[86] On Sunday September 23, 2018, Dr. Alam received an e-mail from Drs. Lamba and Gill  
sent to her official OMA e-mail address and to her personal e-mail account. The text of that e-mail  
reads as follows:  
Drs. Kulvinder Gill and Ashvinder Lamba are giving the Ontario Medical  
Association (OMA) and its President Dr. Nadia Alam one last opportunity to  
tell the truth and condemn Dr. Angus Maciver for his vulgar misogyny and  
harassment against them. Do the right thing. Otherwise, your lies will be  
exposed.  
[87] Section 25 of the Libel and Slander Act allows qualified privilege to apply on a matter of  
public interest between two or more people who have a direct interest in the matter, even if the  
communication is witnessed or reported on by media or other people.  
[88] Parenthetically, on November 7, 2018 the Plaintiffs filed complaints against Dr. Alam with  
the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and in 2019 with the Human Rights Tribunal  
of Ontario concerning these same grievances.  
[89] Once the Plaintiffs demanded that Dr. Alam respond publicly and accused her and the  
OMA of being corrupt the words of Dr. Alam complained of became a matter of public interest  
such as to satisfy s. 137.1(3) of the CJA and additionally were ones of special importance.  
[90] I agree that a defence of qualified privilege is therefore available to Dr. Alam and applies  
here.  
[91] Qualified privilege exists where a person making a communication has “an interest or duty  
(legal, social, moral, or personal) to publish the information in issue to the person to whom it is  
published” and the recipient has a “corresponding interest or duty to receive it”. This privilege  
attaches to the circumstance, and not the communication. Where the occasion itself is found to be  
covered by qualified privilege, then a defendant may publish remarks that are perhaps untrue and  
defamatory (unless the dominant motive was malice) without liability therefor.  
[92] There has not been any evidence of malice led by the Plaintiffs to defeat the qualified  
privilege defence asserted by Dr. Alam.  
[93] Dr. Alam therefore has satisfied the test of having a valid defence. In their Statement of  
Claim, the Plaintiffs also allege that Dr. Alam was in breach of her “duty of care” to them and was  
negligent in her conduct. There can be no recognized duty of care in these circumstances of such  
strong criticism of Dr. Alam that would limit her ability to respond proportionately as was done  
here. These additional claims that have been alleged are, in reality, mere restatements of the claims  
for defamation and are likewise dismissed.  
- Page 18 -  
[94] The Plaintiffs also allege that a quotation attributed to Dr. Alam that was published in the  
Medical Post was defamatory. Specifically, Dr. Alam’s quote in the article was as follows:  
“I spoke to Dr. McIver [sic]. By then he had already apologized to the  
physicians on Twitter and over email. He is blocked by them so unclear if it  
got through. He agreed, there is no place for this type of language between  
colleagues. Ever.”  
[95] On its face, I find that there is nothing defamatory about the impugned statement, a strong  
defence. The full article in which this statement appears is contained at paragraphs 10 and 11 of  
the Factum filed on behalf of the Medical Post. Seeing Dr. Alam’s statement in context will simply  
undermine any possible assertion that it is defamatory.  
[96] The Plaintiffs failed to serve a libel notice or commence an action within the requirements  
of s. 5 of the Libel and Slander Act which constitutes an absolute bar to this action against the  
Medical Post, a similarly strong defence.  
[97] As noted above, the third and final step of the section 137.1 analysis is the heart of the test.  
This section requires a balancing of the public interest in allowing a harmed plaintiff to pursue  
litigation against the public interest in protecting expressions. This step has been described as a  
“robust backstop” that allows judges to dismiss claims even if they are technically meritorious.  
Even where a plaintiff can show their proceeding has substantial merit and the defendant has no  
valid defence, it may still be in the public interest to prioritize protecting the expression over  
allowing a plaintiff to pursue a cause of action despite the harm it caused. To make this  
determination, the harm to the plaintiff as a result of the expression is weighed against the public  
interest in protecting that expression.  
[98] To overcome this hurdle, the Plaintiffs must show 1) the existence of harm, 2) that the harm  
is linked to the expression, and 3) if harm is established and linked, that this linked harm is  
sufficiently serious to make it preferable to allow the proceeding to continue, rather than protecting  
the expression.  
[99] Harm includes both monetary and non-monetary damages. While the Plaintiffs do not need  
to establish the full details of the harm, nor to have it be monetized, they do have to provide  
evidence of the existence of the harm, or evidence from which a judge can draw an inference of  
likelihood in respect of the existence of the harm, as well as the relevant causal link. Bald assertions  
will not be sufficient.  
[100] As already noted, the Plaintiffs have not produced any evidence of harm suffered or to be  
suffered by them as a result of the words of which they complain.  
[101] Dr. Alam’s statements in issue and the Medical Post article are of sufficient importance to  
satisfy the balancing test as set out in s. 137.1(4)(b). Dr. Alam’s speech and the information in the  
article were necessary and valuable. An application of the balancing test results in a determination  
strongly in favour of these Defendants. As a result, the claims against Dr. Alam and, to the extent  
it is also a target of these claims, against the Medical Post must be dismissed.  
- Page 19 -  
The Covid-19 Claims  
[102] The Covid-19 claims arising out of statements made by the Defendants other than Dr.  
Maciver appear to be advance only by Dr. Gill. She has been very vocal in her criticism of how  
government officials and agencies and organizations like the World Health Organization (“WHO”)  
have responded to the ongoing worldwide pandemic.  
[103] The bulk of the communications in this category occurred on the lively and rather unbridled  
platform of Twitter, and comprise what may be accurately described as a Twitter Storm.  
A. André Picard and Carly Weeks  
[104] In early August 2020 Dr. Gill posted tweets in which she expressed her views on how  
society should respond to the pandemic. In the first, Dr. Gill said “we don’t need a vaccine” for  
Covid-19, stating that those who had not figured this out were “not paying attention”. In the  
second, she stated that society could “safely return to normal life now” with what she referred to  
as “#Humanity’s existing effective defences against #COVID19”, identified by her as “The Truth”,  
“T-cell Immunity” and hydroxychloroquine (“HCQ”).  
[105] Andre Picard, the Staff Senior Health Columnist for The Globe and Mail, tweeted on his  
Twitter account that he found it “quite shocking” that Dr. Gill would publicly state such opinions  
that were so contrary to the prevailing consensus among medical professionals, scientists, and  
public health officials.  
[106] Dr. Gill then attacked Picard by posting a tweet implying that he had no right to comment  
because of his lack of medical training and insinuating that he was advancing the so-called  
“political WHO narrative”, apparently improperly influenced by his association with a charity  
established in memory of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  
[107] The other three tweets by Picard and the single tweet by Weeks complained of were posted  
in the flurry of Twitter activity that followed Dr. Gill’s attack on Picard. These included tweets  
about the controversial use of HCQ to treat Covid-19, and others attacking Picard or expressing  
support for him.  
[108] Dr. Gill alleges that the tweets are defamatory of her. In addition, she appears to allege  
that Picard and Weeks engaged in some form of conspiracy to injure her.  
[109] When Picard became aware of Dr. Gill’s tweets, he was concerned that any prominent  
Ontario physician would publicly state views that were so contrary to the consensus among  
physicians, scientists and public officials on subjects on which he had reported extensively. He  
was concerned that Dr. Gill’s statements had the potential to misinform or mislead people.  
[110] In addition to the numerous tweets attacking Picard for his statement, several tweets were  
posted supporting him. Among the tweets posted on August 6, 2020 was one by the Defendant  
Tristan Bronca:  
- Page 20 -  
“The country’s top health journalist (accurately) points out that this doctor  
maybe shouldn’t be pushing a drug that is now primarily pushed by  
conspiracy theorists. She responds with a conspiracy-minded smear about  
how he’s in bed with the WHO. Remarkable work.”  
[111] At 5:55pm on August 6, 2020, Picard responded to Bronca’s tweet by posting the second  
of his tweets that Dr. Gill complains of:  
“Add the subsequent avalanche of tweets from an army of  
hydroxychloroquine bots and unhinged conspiracy theorists and you have a  
concise summary of my day.”  
[112] As the discussion continued, at some point a “hashtag” was created that read  
“#IStandWithPicard”. Twitter users include a hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or  
phrase to categorize or aggregate tweets and allow others to find them more easily.  
[113] Users who posted tweets that included #IStandWithPicard did so to voice their support for  
Picard in response to the many tweets attacking him. Among them was a tweet from Picard’s  
colleague at The Globe and Mail, Weeks.  
[114] On the evening of August 6, 2020, Weeks saw that the #IStandWithPicard hashtag was  
trending on Twitter because Picard was being attacked by many users.  
[115] After reading Picard’s comments, Weeks agreed with Picard’s reaction of “shock.” Based  
on her research, reading and reporting about COVID-19, Weeks knew that there was a wealth of  
scientific literature and research regarding the lack of efficacy of HCQ against Covid-19, the  
difficulty of achieving herd immunity and the necessity of a safe and effective vaccine that  
contradicted Dr. Gill’s opinions.  
[116] Weeks sought to express her agreement with Picard’s opinion about Dr. Gill’s tweets and  
to show support for him in light of the negative comments that had been directed at him. She also  
sought to promote the dissemination of accurate information concerning COVID-19. Weeks was  
concerned that Dr. Gill’s statements had the potential to misinform or mislead people.  
[117] On the evening of August 6, 2020 Weeks responded to one of Picard’s tweets by posting  
what is essentially the only expression by her, one for which she is being sued by the Plaintiffs for  
millions of dollars in damages:  
“André is one of the finest health communicators – anywhere and has done  
more to help the public understand #COVID19 than anyone in the country.  
Grateful, as usual, for his no-nonsense takes and the fact he doesn’t hesitate  
to call out BS when he sees it. #IStandWithPicard”  
[118] At 8:37 a.m. on August 7, 2020, Picard posted the third of his tweets about which Dr. Gill  
complains, in which he reiterated his concern that a Canadian pediatrician had publicly stated that  
a coronavirus vaccine was not necessary:  
- Page 21 -  
“While I appreciate all the kindness, and am flattered to have my own hash  
tag #IStandWithPicard, I would prefer that people focus not on trolls but on  
my initial concern, that a Canadian pediatrician is saying we don’t need a  
#coronavirus vaccine. #Covid19 #antivax @cpso_ca”  
[119] Picard tagged the Twitter account of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario  
because there was an ongoing public discussion about whether and how social media use by  
physicians during the pandemic should be regulated, a topic of evidently great public interest.  
[120] Later on the morning of August 7, 2020, Dr. Jim Woodgett, a research scientist, posted a  
thread on Twitter in which he advocated for the dissemination and open-minded exchange of  
quality information and warned against drawing attention to misinformation. Dr. Woodgett  
suggested that Twitter users replace #IStandWithPicard with #IStandWithScience in their tweets.  
Among the tweets in Dr. Woodgett’s thread was one that stated:  
“I’m sure André appreciates the support, but (apologies to him) he doesn’t  
need it and the hashtag serves to direct people to the source of the issue. On  
the contrary, antivaccine and pro-HCQ advocates have everything to gain by  
attracting attention. This fuels their cause.”  
[121] In reply to this tweet on August 7, 2020, Picard posted the fourth and final of his tweets  
about which Dr. Gill complains, advocating for the dissemination of good science instead of  
engaging in pointless Twitter exchanges:  
“Thank you for this thoughtful thread. I wholeheartedly agree with this point  
in particular. We should use our energy to promote good science, not  
interacting with bots, trolls and politically-driven anti-science, #antivax  
(what’s the polite word?) dogmatists. #Covid19 #scicomm.”  
[122] In my opinion, all of the expressions complained of made by Picard and Weeks are on  
matters of intense public interest.  
[123] Those same expressions are in the nature of fair comment on statements made by Dr. Gill  
on a similar platform and therefore attract that defence. The Plaintiffs have not discharged their  
burden of showing that his defence to all their claims has no chance of success.  
[124] Applying the public interest balancing test, I conclude that the need to protect the freedom  
of these Defendants to express such views far outweighs the considerations that might apply to  
any factors in favour of allowing the claims of Dr. Gill against Picard and Weeks, including the  
unsubstantiated claims of conspiracy, to continue. Accordingly, all claims against Picard and  
Weeks are dismissed.  
B. Tristan Bronca  
[125] On August 6, 2020, Bronca read the tweet by Picard mentioned above on Twitter:  
- Page 22 -  
It’s quite shocking to see a Canadian physician leader @dockaurG saying we  
don’t need a #coronavirus vaccine, we just need t-cell immunity,  
hydroxychloroquine and “the Truth”. #Covid19.  
[126] There were two tweets by Dr. Gill visible in Picard’s tweet. Her August 4, 2020 tweet  
stated:  
“If you have not figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying  
attention. #Factsnotfear”.  
[127] The second tweet of Dr. Gill stated:  
#Humanity’s existing effective defences against #COVID19 to safely return  
to normal life now:  
-The Truth  
-T-cell Immunity  
-Hydroxychloroquine  
[128] Bronca believed that Dr. Gill’s statements ran counter to all the public health advice and  
scientific opinion Bronca was aware of at the time. Dr. Gill’s tweet concerned him, especially  
given her job as a physician. Bronca was aware of other social media communications and tweets  
by Dr. Gill that were of the same vein.  
[129] Bronca also saw Dr. Gill’s response attacking Picard on August 6, 2020:  
It is quite shocking that a journalist with absolutely no medical training is  
attacking a MD for stating scientific facts. Not surprising given  
@picardonhealth is a Pierre Trudeau Foundation Mentor & on its Trudeau  
“#COVID19 Impact Committee” to drive the political WHO narrative.  
[130] Bronca believed that Dr. Gill’s attack on Picard had made him the target of many negative  
comments and criticism on Twitter. Bronca took a screenshot of the tweets of Picard and Dr. Gill  
and added his own opinion in his tweet, which stated:  
“The country’s top health journalist (accurately) points out that this doctor  
maybe shouldn’t be pushing a drug that is now primarily pushed by  
conspiracy theorists. She responds with a conspiracyminded smear about how  
he’s in bed with the WHO. Remarkable work.  
[131] The “country’s top health journalist” refers to Picard. “This doctor” refers to Dr. Gill. The  
drug referred to in the Bronca Tweet is hydroxychloroquine.  
[132] Through his work with Medical Post, Bronca had been immersed in reports of the studies  
and analysis being done relating to the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-  
19. Bronca had also spoken with medical experts who were well versed on the scientific literature  
- Page 23 -  
on the topic of hydroxychloroquine who did not believe it was an effective treatment for Covid-  
19. By August 6, 2020, Bronca understood that the majority of the scientific evidence showed that  
hydroxychloroquine was not an effective treatment for Covid-19.  
[133] Bronca’s tweet addresses Dr. Gill’s attack on Picard and her accusation that he is driving  
“the political WHO narrative”. Bronca understood that “WHO” refers to the World Health  
Organization. He understood the word “narrative”, as used by Dr. Gill, is a common buzzword  
used by some to characterize the allegedly nefarious activities of global or high-powered  
organizations and the alleged lies they tell to cover up or disguise these activities.  
[134] Bronca thought that Dr. Gill’s attack on Picard suggested that he was an active part of those  
allegedly nefarious activities and lies. Bronca had seen no evidence that Picard was so involved.  
It appeared to him that by using the language she did, Dr. Gill was attempting to smear Picard and  
subject him to negative comments and online hate.  
[135]  
Bronca’s tweet on August 6, 2020, questions surrounding the development of effective  
treatments for Covid-19, and the development of vaccines for the prevention of Covid-19 were  
matters of great public interest to both the medical profession and the public at large. Bronca  
believes he should be able to publicly express his concerns about statements that run counter to  
public health advice and scientific opinion without the risk of lengthy and costly litigation for  
doing so.  
[136] The Bronca tweet falls within the statutory definition of expression, which is expansive.  
Dr. Gill’s claim against Bronca clearly “arises from” the Bronca tweet. In August 2020, and for  
many months prior to and after, the issue of treatments for and vaccinations for Covid-19 were  
matters of great public interest due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The Bronca tweet, which  
responded to what he fairly considered to be misleading information regarding  
hydroxychloroquine as treatment for Covid-19, related to a matter of public interest.  
[137] In my view, the Bronca tweet constitutes fair comment on a matter of public interest. This  
defence has been described as one that:  
“Protects obstinate, or foolish, or offensive statements of opinion, or  
inference, or judgment, provided certain conditions are satisfied. The word  
“fair” refers to limits to what any honest person, however opinionated or  
prejudiced, would express upon the basis of the relevant facts.”  
[138] The Bronca tweet was based on facts. As of August 6, 2020 the majority of the scientific  
evidence showed that hydroxychloroquine was not an effective treatment for Covid-19. In  
addition, the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 had been promoted by Alex  
Jones and on websites like the Gateway Pundit, both of which had a history of promoting  
conspiracy theories. With respect to the second sentence of the Bronca tweet, it is a fact that Dr.  
Gill accused Picard of “driv[ing] the political WHO narrative” in her August 6, 2020 response to  
Picard.  
[139] The Bronca tweet was also recognizable as comment by any reasonable reader of the tweet.  
- Page 24 -  
[140] Accordingly, there are grounds to believe that Bronca’s defence of fair comment has a real  
prospect of success. The Plaintiffs have not discharged their onus to show otherwise.  
[141] In the weighing of the interests pursuant to s. 137(4)(b), the Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the  
requirement that the harm suffered by them as a result of Bronca’s expression is sufficiently serious  
such that the public interest in permitting the action to continue outweighs the public interest in  
protecting that expression. Indeed, the public interest in the protection of the right of Bronca to  
speak about such matters of intense public interest strongly favours dismissal of these claims.  
[142] Accordingly, all claims against Bronca are dismissed.  
C. Dr. Jacobs, Dr. Cohen, Dr. Nataros, Dr. Alam and Dr. Sharkawy  
[143] The Plaintiffs have claimed against these five Defendants in defamation on the basis of  
their various Twitter posts, and provision by them of commentary in articles published by the  
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as follows:  
(a) That a single tweet by Dr. Sharkawy, posted August 6, 2020 in response  
to the Picard tweet is defamatory of Dr. Gill;  
(b) That three tweets by Dr. Jacobs dated August 7, 10 and 12, 2020 are  
defamatory of Dr. Gill;  
(c) Against Dr. Cohen on the basis of a series of tweets posted between  
August 6, 2020 and August 11, 2020, and comments made by Dr. Cohen in  
CBC's August 10, 2020 article “Ontario doctor subject of complaints after  
COVID-19 tweets”, and in CBC's video news story "Complaints Filed against  
Ontario doctor after COVID-I 9 tweets" dated August 10, 2020;  
(d) Against Dr. Nataros on the basis of a series of tweets posted between  
August 6, 2020 to October 21, 2020, and comments made by Dr. Nataros in  
CBC's August 10, 2020 article “Ontario doctor subject of complaints after  
COVID-19 tweets”, and in CBC’s video news story "Complaints Filed  
against Ontario doctor after COVID-I 9 tweets" dated August 10, 2020;  
(e) That a tweet posted by Dr. Alam on August 6, 2020 in response to the  
Picard tweet is defamatory of Dr. Gill.  
[144] The Plaintiffs have asserted several causes of action as against these Defendants broadly  
as a whole, with little to no particularization of alleged individual involvement. The Plaintiffs plead  
these Defendants are liable in negligence, conspiracy, and “breach of the doctor Defendants'  
professional obligations”.  
[145] The Plaintiffsclaims of conspiracy are deficiently pleaded bare assertions. The pleadings  
are bald, overly speculative, or simply restated legal principles rather than pleaded material facts.  
The Plaintiffs’ pleading fails to set out any alleged agreementwith particularity, lumps these  
- Page 25 -  
Defendants all together, and gives no particulars of damages. In my view, it is clear from the  
pleadings the conspiracy claim will fail.  
[146] Further, the Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to adduce any evidence reasonably  
capable of belief to establish grounds to believe a conspiracy of this nature could have substantial  
merit or, for that matter, any merit at all.  
[147] The Plaintiffs also broadly assert a negligence claim as against these Defendants. The  
general law of negligence requires that a claim in negligence be based on a duty of care owed to  
them by these Defendants. The Plaintiffs assert that a special duty of exists “as set out in protocol”  
when a physician makes representations or remarks about a fellow doctor to the public. No such  
duty of care between or among physicians exists such that a cause of action may arise.  
[148] The Plaintiffs also assert that these Defendants are liable to the Plaintiffs in “breach of the  
doctor Defendants' professional obligations”. The Plaintiffs have provided no basis in the record  
or law to support a breach of professional obligation gives rise to an independent cause of action.  
The Plaintiffs thereby fail in their burden to establish that there are grounds to believe the  
proceeding has substantial merit.  
[149] The Plaintiffs’ claim against Dr. Sharkawy pertains to a single tweet made on August 6,  
2020, which is alleged to be defamatory to Dr. Gill.  
[150] In response to the Picard tweet, on August 6, 2020 Dr. Sharkawy tweeted the following:  
@dockaurG Curious.,.who exactly are the “Concerned Doctors of Ontario"  
and do they espouse your views? The rest of us Ontario MDs are quite  
"concerned" that you are spreading very dangerous misinformation that will  
cost lives #Accountability.  
[151] Dr. Sharkawy embedded the Picard tweet, and by extension, the two embedded tweets of  
Dr. Gill embedded in the Picard tweet.  
[152] The Plaintiffs have the onus of showing that that none of the defences raised by Dr.  
Sharkawy are legally tenable or supported by evidence that is reasonably capable of belief such  
that they can be said to have no real prospect of success. Dr. Sharkawy relies on the defences of  
fair comment and justification. In my view the Sharkawy tweet meets all the requirements of the  
defence of fair comment. Dr. Sharkawy was responding to the fact Dr. Gill had publicly posted  
certain tweets regarding COVID-19 public health measures in the midst of the global COVID-19  
pandemic, to the effect that COVID-19 vaccines were not necessary, and HCQ was an appropriate  
treatment for COVID-19. Dr. Sharkawy’s statement that “[t]he rest of us Ontario MDs are quite  
concerned” was fair comment or at least presents a strong defence of fair comment.  
[153] The Sharkawy tweet further satisfies the requirement that any person could honestly  
express that opinion on the proved facts. The public health guidance at the time, and to this day, is  
contrary to the views expressed by Dr. Gill in her August 4 tweet (about vaccines) and August 6  
tweet (about HCQ) that Dr. Sharkawy commented his concerns about. Any reasonable person  
- Page 26 -  
could form the same concerns and opinion on the proved facts in light of the conflict with generally  
accepted public health guidance.  
[154] The Plaintiffs allege Dr. Jacobs’ August 7, 2020 tweet is defamatory. Dr. Jacobs’s August  
7, 2020 tweet responds to two prior tweets of Dr. Gill, which are attached to Dr. Jacobs tweet as a  
screenshot. Dr. Jacobs August 7, 2020 tweet reads as follows:  
No, we're not living through a scandal. We're living through one of the  
deadliest pandemics in the last century. What is most shocking is a medical  
doctor pushing conspiracy theories.  
This needs to stop. #Cdnpoli #COVID19 #IStandWithPicard  
#vaccine #coronavirus  
[Attached screenshot of Dr. Gill’s July 3 tweet]  
We’re living thru one of deadliest #BigPharma scandals in history. Most  
shocking/frighteningmajority oblivious. #HCQWorks as prophylaxis &  
early treatment in #COVID19. HCQ doesn’t work for greedy BigPharma,  
politicians abusing power, corrupted WHO/CCP, bought out  
media/academics  
[The July 3 tweet attached a June 30, 2020 tweet by Dr. Gill, which was also  
attached to Dr. Jacobs August 7, 2020 tweet]  
Irrational fear is driven by politicians abusing power, media misinformation,  
unethical academics, BigPharma COIs & corrupted WHO co-opted by CCP.  
Science & medicine have been hijacked & are being exploited for power &  
greed...  
[155] There are no grounds to believe the Jacobs tweet is capable of bearing the defamatory  
meaning alleged in paragraph 151, including such imputations as to “call into question Dr. Gill’s  
mental stability” or “suggest that she was/is endangering the lives of her patients”.  
[156] Further, the Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden under s. 137.1(4)(a)(ii) to show that there  
are grounds to believe Dr. Jacobs has no valid defence of fair comment. Dr. Jacobs further relies  
on the defence of fair comment. The Jacobs August 7 tweet satisfies the test for the defence of fair  
comment in that it is based on fact (Dr. Gill’s tweets, the facts on which his comment was based,  
were included in the Jacobs August 7 Tweet), recognizable as comment (Dr. Jacobs’ statement  
would be properly construed by the reasonable reader as reflecting his conclusion or inference  
arising from Dr. Gill’s embedded tweets), could honestly be made by any person (Dr. Jacobs  
inference that Dr. Gill was pushing conspiracy theories has a clear linkage to the facts of Dr. Gill’s  
statements that “HCQ doesn’t work for greedy BigPharma, politicians abusing power, corrupted  
WHO/CCP, bought outmedia/academics” which by definition is a conspiracy theory).  
- Page 27 -  
[157] The Plaintiffs further allege Dr. Jacobs’ August 10, 2020 tweet, which attached and quoted  
from the August 10, 2020 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article about Dr. Gill entitled  
“Ontario doctor subject of complaints after COVID-19 tweets” is defamatory. The body of Dr.  
Jacobs’ August 10, 2020 tweet contains only the title of the article, and a direct quote from the  
article “It's important that physicians recognize the influence they may have on social media,  
particularly when it comes to public health”, included in the article from a spokesperson of the  
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Dr. Jacobs replied to the tweet “The fact that so  
many people on this thread still believe that the current research supports the use of  
hydroxychloroquine, when the opposite is true, is exactly why it is so important for physicians to  
be responsible in what they say on social media”.  
[158] Further, there are no grounds to believe that Dr. Jacobs’ August 10, 2020 tweet is  
defamatory in that it would lower Dr. Gill’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person. An  
excerpt of a quote from the CPSO, coupled with a statement that it is important for physicians to  
be responsible on social media is incapable of bearing the defamatory meaning alleged. The  
Plaintiffs cannot establish that there are grounds to believe that the defence of fair comment will  
not succeed.  
[159] Dr. Jacobs’ August 10, 2020 tweet satisfies all elements of the defence of fair comment:  
(i) Public Interest: it was made on a matter of public interest, addressing physician influence on  
social media with respect to public health; (ii) Based on Facts: The August 10, 2020 tweet attached  
the CBC article, providing the full requisite factual backdrop; (iii) Recognisable as Comment: Dr.  
Jacobs’ statement that the fact that many believed HCQ was an effective treatment for COVID-19  
reflected why it was so important for physicians to be responsible on social media is clearly  
recognizable to the “reasonable reader” as comment. Any reasonable reader would understand that  
Dr. Jacobs shared the CBC article, then provided his opinion and conclusion regarding the article  
as comment below; (iv) Could honestly be made by any person: Dr. Jacobs’ comment in the August  
10, 2020 tweet is in agreement with the statement of the CPSO spokesperson mentioned in the  
article, demonstrating two commentors could honestly come to the same conclusion on the same  
known facts. (v) Absence of Malice: Dr. Jacobs posted his comment in good-faith, without malice.  
There are no grounds to believe the fair comment defence has no real prospect of success.  
[160] The Plaintiffs further claim that a tweet made by Dr. Jacobs on August 12, 2020 is  
defamatory of Dr. Gill. The Plaintiffs cannot establish there are grounds to believe this claim has  
substantial merit. For a statement to be defamatory it must refer to the Plaintiff. Dr. Jacobs’ August  
12, 2020 Tweet does not refer to the Plaintiff, nor did the attached article. No connection was  
drawn to Dr. Gill in the tweet thread.  
[161] Dr. Jacobs further asserts a defence of qualified privilege with respect to all three tweets  
that the Plaintiffs allege to be defamatory. As a physician, Dr. Jacobs has a moral and professional  
duty to: educate the public to ensure that medical knowledge is appropriately conveyed to facilitate  
health promotion and disease prevention; interpret information given out by health authorities  
during emergencies; and to participate in setting the standards of his profession. The public has an  
interest in receiving that information. There are no grounds to believe that this defence of qualified  
privilege has no real prospect of success in these circumstances. Indeed, it is a strong defence.  
- Page 28 -  
[162] Some of the impugned expressions of Dr. Nataros are alleged to be defamatory on the basis  
that they accuse Dr. Gill of spreading “misinformation”, including his contribution to the August  
10, 2020 CBC News Video, in which he states.  
This is a threat to me and my practice and my professional integrity here in  
British Colombia. It is a threat to my 15,000 patients to have a Canadian  
licensed physician promoting misinformation that is harmful.  
[163] Further impugned expressions of Dr. Nataros appear to relate to allegations that his  
statements either encourage the public to lodge a complaint against Dr. Gill, or relate to statements  
Dr. Nataros made referencing the fact he had felt an obligation to report Dr. Gill to the CPSO. A  
further Impugned Expression relates to a statement that the “unanimous consensus of #MedTwitter  
is clear this @doekaurGMD ain't a leader among peers.”  
[164] There are no grounds to believe that the defence of fair comment relied upon by Dr. Nataros  
has no real prospect of success. Dr. Nataros made these comments: (i) On a matter of public  
interest: his expressions are addressing the physician regulation and the public health response to  
the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) Based on Fact: The existence of the COVID-19 pandemic was  
broadly known and Dr. Nataros either responds to a Twitter thread, attaches his letter of complaint  
to the CPSO or the August 10, 2020 CBC Article to the expressions, providing the requisite factual  
backdrop; (iii) Recognizable as Comment: Dr. Nataros’ statements are all recognizable as his  
opinion. The statement that he “took responsibility for a Colleague’s misconduct”, expresses his  
opinion of Dr. Gill’s conduct, not a factual statement that there had been a finding of misconduct,  
(iv) could honestly be made by any person: Given the publicly available health information  
available at the time, any person could reasonably express the same opinion; (v) Absence of  
Malice: Dr. Nataros’ only motivation in posting the impugned expressions was his concern for  
patients and the impact of misinformation on the public health response to the COVID-19  
pandemic.  
[165] Several of Dr. Cohen’s tweets and expressions between August 6, 2020 and August 10,  
2020 are alleged to be defamatory of Dr. Gill. The Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden to show that  
there are grounds to believe these expressions are defamatory and thus that the claim has any real  
chance of success, or there are grounds to believe Dr. Cohen has no valid defences.  
[166] Certain of the impugned expressions of Dr. Cohen’s which are alleged to be defamatory of  
Dr. Gill pertain to statements around Dr. Gill “blocking” people on Twitter. The Plaintiffs cannot  
meet their burden to show these statements are defamatory. There is no basis to discern that  
“blocking” someone on Twitter would tend to lower Dr. Gill’s reputation in the eyes of a  
reasonable person. Dr. Cohen’s statements use wording such as “blocked nearly every other  
Ontario Doctor on Twitter” which the reasonable reader would understand to not be a literal  
statement that nearly every doctor was blocked, but a hyperbolic statement, the sting of which is  
that Dr. Gill has blocked many Ontario physicians. As such, there are no grounds to believe that  
Dr. Cohen’s defence of fair comment has no real prospect of success with respect to these  
expressions.  
- Page 29 -  
[167] Dr. Cohen also further relies on the defence of qualified privilege with respect to all  
impugned expressions. As a physician, Dr. Cohen believed she has a moral and professional duty  
to educate the public to ensure that medical knowledge is appropriately conveyed to facilitate  
health promotion and disease preventions, interpret information given out by health authorities  
during emergencies, and to participate in setting the standards of her profession. The public has an  
interest in receiving that information. There are no grounds to believe that this defence has no real  
prospect of success.  
[168] The words of Dr. Alam’s August 6, 2020 tweet on their face are not defamatory. Dr. Alam  
expresses her view that the medical evidence on the use of HCQ is “shaky”, and that a COVID-19  
vaccine is needed. While Dr. Alam’s view may differ from that of Dr. Gill, a difference of  
professional opinion does not constitute defamation. There is nothing in Dr. Alam’s tweet that  
would tend to lower either Plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person. The Plaintiffs  
cannot establish there are grounds to believe the defamation action as against Dr. Alam for the  
August 6, 2020 tweet has substantial merit, as the words are simply not capable of bearing a  
defamatory meaning.  
[169] The Plaintiffs also cannot establish there are grounds to believe that Dr. Alam has no valid  
defence. There are no grounds to believe that her defence of fair comment has little prospect of  
success. Dr. Alam’s August 6, 2020 tweet satisfies the test for fair comment: (i) Is made on a  
matter of public interest: the tweet is addressing the public health response and treatment options  
with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) Based on Fact: The factual underpinning of the Picard  
Tweet is attached to Dr. Alam’s tweet, and the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic was broadly  
known; (iii) Recognizable as Comment: Dr. Alam’s statement that evidence of HCQ is “shaky”  
and that the need for a COVID-19 vaccine is real reflect Dr. Alam’s opinion; (iv) Could honestly  
be made by any person: Given the publicly available health information available at the time, any  
person could reasonable person could express the same opinion; and (v) Absence of Malice: The  
evidence supports that Dr. Alam was not motivated by malice, but by her good-faith belief that an  
appropriate vaccine is vital to combat the COVID-19 virus.  
[170] The burden of proof is on the Plaintiffs to show on a balance of probabilities that that (a)  
they likely have suffered or will suffer harm; (b) that such harm is as a result of the expression  
established under s. 137.1(3); and, (c) that the corresponding public interest in allowing the  
underlying proceeding to continue outweighs the deleterious effects on expression and public  
participation.  
[171] Although a fully developed damages brief may not be necessary on a s. 137.1 motion, in  
this case there is simply a complete dearth of any evidence on the motion to show harm, or linking  
these Defendants’ expressions to any of the undefined damages that are claimed by the Plaintiffs.  
[172] The Plaintiffs’ claims of harm are completely undifferentiated. The Plaintiffs fail to even  
allege specific claims of damage with respect to each individual Defendant or expression, let alone  
provide any evidence of a causal link of harm or damage arising from each expression.  
- Page 30 -  
[173] This is particularly problematic in the context of this case, as even if the Plaintiffs were  
able to establish harm, there are many potential causes of the harm that the Plaintiffs claim to have  
suffered. Evidence of a causal link of harm arising from the impugned expression is required.  
[174] Evidence of a causal link between the expression and the harm is especially important, in  
the circumstances of the present motion, where there may be sources other than these Defendants’  
expressions that may have caused the Plaintiffs harm, including self-inflicted harm by the Plaintiffs  
themselves as a result of the professional and public criticism received for controversial statements  
and media appearances.  
[175] These allegations appear to be part of a larger tactical campaign in opposition to COVID-  
19 public health measures, designed to benefit from the publicity of the claim to promote public  
health and policy views and to silence those who express views contrary to those of the Plaintiffs.  
[176] The public interest of protecting the expression of these Defendants significantly outweighs  
any public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue. There are numerous relevant factors  
at the weighing stage which weigh heavily in favour of protecting their expressions.  
[177] These Defendants were not motivated by any malice or ill-will towards the Plaintiffs.  
Rather, the defendant Physicians’ expressions were motivated by good-faith efforts to protect the  
public from misinformation, and provide the public with health information in the context of an  
unprecedented global pandemic:  
(a) Dr. Sharkawy expressed concern that misinformation espoused to the  
public could result in Canadians choosing not to get vaccinated for COVID-  
19 or using unapproved treatments for COVID-19 that were not medically  
accepted. His expression was motivated by a moral duty as a physician to  
express his views to the public out of concern for public safety;  
(b) Dr. Jacobs’s expressions were motivated by an intention to inform his  
followers of appropriate approved treatments for COVID-19, and a belief that  
properly informing the public could save lives. Dr. Jacobs emphasized the  
importance that the public receive a clear and consistent message when it  
comes to public health messaging, as harm to patients can arise when a  
physician provides an opinion that does not align with information from  
public health or government;  
(c) Dr. Cohen’s expressions were motivated by concern about the public  
health impacts of Dr. Gill’s tweets with respect to the need for COVID-19  
vaccinations and the use of hydroxychloroquine. Dr. Cohen felt a duty as a  
physician to offer her views in the public interest.  
(d) Dr. Nataros felt a duty as a physician to offer his views to the public and  
address misinformation about COVID-19. Dr. Nataros’ expressions were  
motivated by concern for public safety arising from the spread of  
misinformation on COVID-19 treatments and the efficacy of vaccines.  
- Page 31 -  
[178]  
The expressions of these Defendants in seeking to address misinformation are intimately  
tied to the search for truth, a core value underlying freedom of expression. The expression of these  
Defendants is therefore to be afforded a high weight in the s. 137.1(4)(b) weighing exercise.  
[179] If this proceeding were allowed to continue, its chilling effects would have an impact well  
beyond the parties to this case. There is a real risk that the effects of this proceeding will stifle the  
speech of the Defendants, and deter other physicians, journalist, scientists, and other members of  
the public from engaging in public discussion and discourse about potential misinformation on  
matters of public health in the future. The public has a clear interest in discussion and discourse  
about matters of public health.  
[180] Even on a generous interpretation of the limited evidence adduced by the Plaintiffs, the  
harm likely to be or already suffered by the Plaintiffs lies at the very low end of the spectrum as  
does the public interest in allowing the proceeding to continue. The balancing test produces a result  
that favours that urged by these Defendants.  
[181] Accordingly, all claims as against these Defendants should be dismissed.  
D. Dr. Van Aerde  
[182] On August 4, 2020, Dr. Gill tweeted:  
“If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not  
paying attention. #FactsNotFear”.  
[183] Dr. Gill suggests in her Affidavit that this tweet was taken “out of context and distorted”,  
and it was made in response to an announcement made “moments prior” by Dr. Theresa Tam at a  
press conference. She states this was a “singular ‘vaccine Tweet’”. And yet, she also posted “[w]e  
don’t need a #SARSCoV2 vaccine” on July 8, 2020, a full month before Dr. Tam’s press  
conference. Her clearly stated public position against COVID-19 vaccines is not affected by  
context.  
[184] In another tweet, dated August 6, 2020, which was removed from Twitter for violating its  
rules, Dr. Gill stated:  
“#Humanity's existing effective defences against #COVID19 to safely return  
to normal life now includes: -Truth, -T-cell Immunity, Hydroxychloroquine."  
[185] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Van Aerde, shocked by the anti-vaccine rhetoric of a fellow  
pediatrician, made the following expressions on Twitter and Facebook (collectively, the  
“Expressions”):  
“Requesting @Twitter and @TwitterSupport remove account @dockaurg for  
misinformation against vaccination and in favour of hydroxychloroquine and  
misrepresenting Canadian physicians.”  
- Page 32 -  
“Another Twitter account hacked? I am sorry if that is the case, But here is  
another of your tweets attached with unprofessional lies. As a colleague  
Pediatrician I have to admit that you are dangerous to children. How do you  
come up with this? Why Don’t you quote evidence?”  
“I was blocked too… after I called out the untruths and supported Andre  
Picard. Some of us have requested Twitter to remove her account. She was  
trained in Western as Pediatrician. She has tweeted before on bogus  
treatments, lots of trolls followers. There is a call for her unprofessionalism  
to be looked at by cspo. Somebody mentioned she is part of our FB  
community, and I suggest for her to be removed for lack of professionalism  
and scholarship as per CANMEDS2105.”  
[186] Dr. Gill “blocked” Dr. Van Aerde shortly after these tweets were posted. Blocking on  
Twitter prevented Dr. Van Aerde from viewing and responding to Dr. Gill’s tweets from his own  
Twitter account.  
[187] There is no dispute that Dr. Van Aerde is the author of the expressions and that those  
expressions are captured by the statutory definition of expression under s. 137.1(2).  
[188] Dr. Van Aerde’s expressions relate directly to the COVID-19 global pandemic and  
information and disinformation about COVID-19. The expressions respond to Dr. Gill’s  
propositions that “we don’t need a vaccine”, and all we need is “…-Truth, -T-cell Immunity,  
Hydroxychloroquine”.  
[189] No issue falls more squarely into the definition of a matter of public interest than a global  
pandemic. The public has a genuine stake in the matter of debates about pandemics and COVID-  
19 health treatments.  
[190] To the extent that the content of the expressions made by Dr. Van Aerde are comments,  
rather than statements of fact, then there are reasonable grounds to believe that fair comment is a  
valid defence for him.  
[191] The expressions are based on factual evidence that vaccines are a critical tool to end the  
pandemic and supported by multiple health agencies and organizations. Any person could honestly  
express that opinion on those facts. At least 22 other people did, nine of whom are Canadian  
physicians, as evidenced by this litigation.  
[192] Dr. Van Aerde’s expressions are very likely also protected by a defence of qualified  
privilege. The occasion here that triggers qualified privilege is the need to respond to an influential  
physician using her Twitter platform to spread misinformation in the middle of a pandemic.  
Misinformation about treatments and vaccines could have serious and widespread health  
consequences. Dr. Van Aerde had a professional, social, and moral duty to respond to Dr. Gill’s  
statements and challenge her views.  
- Page 33 -  
[193] The Plaintiff has failed to adduce any evidence of a conspiracy. She provides no evidence  
in her affidavit of a conspiracy. The Statement of Claim makes bald allegations that, because Dr.  
Van Aerde was on the same Facebook group as other defendants, there is necessarily some  
conspiracy between them to harm Dr. Gill. She argues that the Defendants, “like a pack of hyenas”  
coordinated an attack on her without any evidence to support her claim.  
[194] Dr. Gill also includes negligence as a cause of action in her claim but Dr. Gill’s only  
evidence of negligence is adopting of allegations in her Statement of Claim as sworn facts. A cause  
of action in negligence is not properly set out in her pleadings. Dr. Gill is really claiming  
negligence because she was defamed. If she was defamed, the proper cause of action is defamation,  
which is her only plausible cause of action.  
[195] The final step involves weighing the harm suffered against the interest in protecting the  
expression made. Dr. Van Aerde was somewhat harsh in his comments but not gratuitously so and  
the focus is not on whether the expression should have been more polite. Dr. Gill has suffered no  
harm as a result of the expressions of Dr. Van Aerde. The imposition of subjective and moralistic  
limits on debates, and in particular on those of scientists amidst a pandemic, is not in the public  
interest. When the final comparative weighing step of the test is applied, I consider that the correct  
result is that all claims against Dr. Van Aerde be dismissed.  
E. Dr. Fraser  
[196] On October 1, 2020, Dr Gill “quote-tweeted” (re-posted, with commentary), her own  
earlier tweet from September 17, 2020, which read:  
Why is there fear re meaningless “cases”? Up to 90% false+ d/t high PCR  
cycle thresholds on ppl who are not infectious. Even among the small % of  
actual true positives: it is good news b/c ICU adms & deaths are at all-time  
lows. These healthy ppl are contributing to herd immunity  
[197] Dr Gill’s October 1 tweet added the following additional commentary:  
This cannot be stressed enough. Rising “cases” amongst young & healthy ppl,  
without equal rise in ICU adms or deaths directly as a result of the virus, is  
very encouraging news: it means we are building natural community/herd  
immunity which will protect elderly & high-risk groups  
[198] Dr. Fraser saw Dr. Gill’s October 1 tweet and understood it to suggest that Ontario was  
developing natural herd immunity to COVID-19a proposition that he considered to be  
dangerous misinformation about the risk of COVID-19 transmission that could lull Ontarians into  
abandoning public health measures at a time when infections were on the rise. Dr. Fraser was  
concerned that Dr. Gill’s tweet would undermine public health efforts that aimed to reduce the  
spread of COVID-19 by encouraging the use of masks and social distancing, and reducing  
contacts.  
- Page 34 -  
[199] Dr. Fraser’s understanding at the time, based on his review of infection rates in Ontario,  
was that nowhere near the percentage of the population required to achieve herd immunity had  
been infected and recovered from COVID-19 as of October 1, 2020. He was concerned that  
members of the public would read Dr. Gill’s tweet and understand that precautions were no longer  
necessary because the population had achieved, or had nearly achieved, herd immunity. He feared  
this could cause people to disregard public health guidelines and expose themselves to a higher  
risk of infection. He was particularly concerned that individuals who read the tweet would be more  
likely to accept her statement as truthful and authoritative because Dr. Gill’s Twitter profile  
highlights her physician credentials.  
[200] Dr. Fraser had been closely following reporting of the nascent “second wave” of COVID-  
19 infections developing in Europe and had observed that Ontario appeared to be lagging a couple  
of weeks behind but following a similar trend. Of course, a “second wave” of infections in Ontario  
did ultimately occur, reaching its peak later that fall.  
[201] Based on these concerns, Dr. Fraser posted a small number of tweets in response to Dr.  
Gill’s October 1 tweet, and in response to her followers who engaged with him subsequently, in  
an effort to push back against what he considered to be misinformation that could have dangerous  
repercussions if left unchallenged. As a publicly funded scientist, Dr. Fraser felt that he had a  
responsibility to voice his concerns so that Dr. Gill’s followers and others who saw her tweet  
would be aware that her views did not represent the consensus in the scientific community.  
[202] Almost immediately after Dr. Fraser published his first tweet, Dr. Gill blocked him from  
her Twitter page, making it impossible for him to engage with her. She also “quotetweeted” Dr.  
Fraser’s tweet and referred to Dr. Fraser using the same language about which she complains in  
this action.  
[203] The impugned tweets relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dangers of misinformation  
regarding the risk of transmission and the need for public health measures in response to the  
pandemic. That is a matter of significant public interest. One can scarcely imagine a topic of greater  
public interest.  
[204] The first impugned tweet, which Dr. Fraser posted on October 1, 2020 in response to Dr.  
Gill’s tweet, reads:  
Can you please stop with this herd immunity garbage? What proportion of the  
population is seropositive at this stage in your opinion? 80%? Or below 5%?  
This is simply lunatic stuff. I can’t believe you are qualified as an MD.  
[205] Applying the proper approach to determining meanings, the tweet means that the Ontario  
population had not reached herd immunity to COVID-19 as of October 1, 2020 and there was no  
reasonable basis to suggest that Ontario had reached or was close to reaching herd immunity. It  
was therefore irresponsible for Dr. Gill to tell the public that Ontario had reached or was close to  
reaching herd immunity.  
- Page 35 -  
[206] The reference to “lunatic stuff” is understood reasonably as a reference to the suggestion  
that Ontario had reached herd immunityit does not convey the meaning that Dr. Gill is a lunatic.  
If it were to be understood as referring to Dr. Gill, it is mere vulgar abuse, an insult that might hurt  
Dr. Gill’s feelings but that is not actionable and would not harm her reputation in the eyes of a  
right-thinking person.  
[207] The second impugned tweet was a response Dr. Fraser posted to a tweet from Martin  
Kulldorff, which defended Dr. Gill after Dr. Fraser’s first tweet. Dr. Fraser wrote:  
Let’s at least agree that there is a substantial history here of Kulvinder pushing  
fact-free COVID myths.  
I also had anonymous threats to my personal email account for pointing out  
her skews and misrepresentations. Not the behaviour of a reasonable person  
I would say.  
[208] The tweet meant and was understood to mean that prior to her October 1 tweet, Dr. Gill  
had made claims about COVID-19 that were not grounded in fact. The mention of “anonymous  
threats to my personal email account” and “Not the behaviour of a reasonable person” meant and  
were understood to mean that an anonymous supporter of Dr. Gill had made threats to Dr. Fraser’s  
personal email account because Dr. Fraser had pointed out Dr. Gill’s misrepresentations of fact.  
That supporter’s conduct was not the behaviour of a reasonable person. That comment was not  
objectively understood to refer to Dr. Gill herself.  
[209] Dr. Fraser posted the third and fourth impugned tweets in response to one of Dr. Gill’s  
supporters, who had criticised one of his tweets. The tweets read:  
Dr. Gill was previously reprimanded for spreading untruths about COVID.  
She was pushing HCQ and suggested vaccine was unnecessary. She suggests  
that the low deaths SO FAR in Ontario’s 2ND wave is due to herd  
immunity...nonsensical as I said. I stand by my condemnation of her views  
And:  
the reason I pushed back hard against her fact-free tweets is that this is the  
second time she is spreading harmful and dangerous views. Last time she was  
forced to retract her tweets. It is disgraceful that an MD continues to push  
illogical and wrong views during a pandemic.  
[210] These tweets mean and were understood to mean that Dr. Fraser understood Dr. Gill had  
been admonished previously for making inaccurate statements about hydroxychloroquine as a  
COVID treatment and that vaccines are not needed and that she was forced to retract those tweets  
and Dr. Gill is again giving the public inaccurate and potentially harmful information about  
COVID, this time relating to herd immunity. Further, it is unreasonable to suggest that the low  
deaths in Ontario’s second wave as of October 4 are due to herd immunity.  
- Page 36 -  
[211] Finally, the fifth impugned tweet was a comment Dr. Fraser made in response to a tweet  
by the Defendant, Marco Prado. It reads:  
Thank you Marco! I feel it is our responsibility as academics to try to push  
back against dangerous and wrong views that encourage complacency and a  
false sense of security during this pandemic. If this was the first time Dr. Gill  
had done this, it could be a mistake. It wasn't.  
[212] This tweet meant and was understood to mean that academics have a responsibility during  
the pandemic to speak out when others express views that may lead members of the public to stop  
taking appropriate precautions and increasing their risk of contracting COVID- 19. Further, Dr.  
Gill’s comments cannot be overlooked as a mistake because on Dr. Fraser’s understanding it is not  
the first time she has published comments during the pandemic that are not based on fact and may  
have dangerous implications.  
[213] Even if Dr. Gill were to satisfy the substantial merit requirement, she cannot meet her  
burden of demonstrating that Dr. Fraser has no valid defence to the claim. Dr. Gill must show there  
are grounds to believe that Dr. Fraser’s defences have no real prospect of success. She must show  
that none of the defences are legally tenable or supported by evidence that is reasonably capable  
of belief. There must be a basis in the record and the law, taking into account the stage of the  
proceeding, to support a finding that the defences do not tend to weigh more favour of Dr. Fraser.  
Dr. Gill has not met that burden.  
[214] The comments expressed in the impugned tweets have a nexus to the underlying facts. A  
person could honestly have made the same comments Dr. Fraser did based on the facts Dr. Fraser  
knew and as summarised above. Moreover, Dr. Fraser honestly believed in the comments he  
expressed. He believed that Dr. Gill’s tweet suggested Ontario had reached, or was close to  
reaching herd immunity; that Ontario was in fact not close to COVID-19 herd immunity; and that  
it was unreasonable and dangerous for a physician to suggest otherwise to the public because it  
could result in individuals refusing to follow public health measures to reduce the transmission of  
the virus. Dr. Fraser honestly believed, based on the CBC article, that Dr. Gill had previously  
posted a tweet containing inaccurate information about COVID-19 and that the tweet had been  
taken down from Twitter for violating its rulesa public rebuke or reprimand.  
[215] Dr. Fraser’s unchallenged evidence is that he did not act out of any malice or ill-will toward  
Dr. Gill. Dr. Fraser did not and does not know Dr. Gill and had never interacted with her before  
his initial tweet in response to her October 1, 2020 tweet. He did not intend to cause any harm to  
Dr. Gill but his predominant motive was to ensure the public was not swayed by inaccurate,  
misinformation during a significant public health crisis. His only intention was to provide an  
opposing informed perspective regarding the appropriate interpretation of public health  
information relating to COVID-19 for the benefit of Dr. Gill’s Twitter followers and for anyone  
else who became aware of Dr. Gill’s October 1, 2020 tweet.  
[216] Dr. Gill’s and Dr. Fraser’s tweets were public communications related to the appropriate  
public health response to a pandemic. At the time, Dr. Fraser perceived that members of the  
- Page 37 -  
Canadian public were genuinely confused about the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and what  
precautions were necessary to reduce the risk of transmission of this potentially deadly disease.  
There is a compelling social interest in attaching privilege to communications such as Dr. Fraser’s  
impugned tweets, which respond to and debate statements made on a public forum relating to  
pressing matters of public health.  
[217] To the extent Dr. Gill has suffered any harm, she has not shown any causal link to Dr.  
Fraser’s impugned tweets. There are many potential causes of the harm Dr. Gill claims to have  
suffered. Dr. Gill herself is the most obvious cause of damage to her reputation. Other potential  
causes include the comments and criticisms of others. When Dr. Fraser published the impugned  
tweets, Dr. Gill was already the subject of criticism on social media for spreading misinformation  
about COVID-19.  
[218] There is great public interest in protecting Dr. Fraser’s expressions which are of substantial  
importance. He spoke up against what he considered to be misinformation that could lead  
individuals to ignore public health recommendations and measures designed to mitigate the risk  
of COVID-19 pandemic. A public health emergency in which informed, knowledgeable experts  
are stifled from commenting publicly to combat misinformation is a significant threat to the  
general public interest.  
[219] When the ultimate balancing test is applied, the interests and factors that might favour  
allowing this action against Dr. Fraser to continue are easily and far outweighed by the public  
interest in protecting speech of this nature. Accordingly, all claims against Dr. Fraser are  
dismissed.  
E. Dr. Schwartz, Timothy Caulfield, Dr. Prato and Dr. Fazel  
[220] On August 6, 2020, Professor Caulfield responded to a tweet posted by André Picard on  
the same date in which Picard indicated he was shocked to see Dr. Gill tweeting that we do not  
need a coronavirus vaccine, but rather that we just need T-cell immunity, HCQ, and the truth:  
Incredible. A leading MD spreading #misinformation about vaccines & value  
of lockdown? Pushing disproven #Hydroxychloroquine?  
She has already blocked me (preemptive?), so can’t see all. Will @cpso_ca  
explore? She’s involved (leads?) “Concerned Ontario Doctors”.  
[221] Following his above tweet, Professor Caulfield then copied and pasted the following two  
tweets from Dr. Gill (the “#FactsNotFear tweets”), over which he included the letters “WTF”:  
There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged,  
harmful, and illogical lockdown. #FactsNotFear  
[222] On August 6, 2020, Professor Caulfield responded to a tweet by Dr. Michelle Cohen  
regarding the spread of misinformation on social media by tweeting “Go Team”.  
- Page 38 -  
[223] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Fazel responded to the #FactsNotFear tweets as follows:  
I’ll just put this here. #VaccinesWork #vaccination #VaccinesforALL  
[infographic from the Public Health Agency of Canada titled: “Vaccines  
Work”, outlining the efficacy of vaccines for whopping cough, measles,  
chickenpox, mumps, diphtheria, and polio]  
[224] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Fazel responded to a tweet by Professor Caulfield of the same date  
regarding a leading physician spreading misinformation:  
Just like any other profession, unfortunately, even in medicine you have a few  
rotten apples. This is why it’s crucial to improve evidence-based literacy in  
the community.  
[225] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Fazel responded to a post by Dr. Gill by tweeting:  
There is a difference between having opposing views that are backed by  
evidence and spreading misinformation.  
[226] On July 22, 2020, Dr. Schwartz quoted a tweet regarding a comment by Dr. Anthony Fauci  
on vaccine antibodies and T-cells, and he added the following:  
Apparently “T-Cell Immunity” is the new rallying cry for anti-science plague  
enthusiasts who argue that many more people are immune than measured in  
serosurveys (which measure antibodies).  
[thinking emoji] I’d listen to Dr. Fauci [world emoji]’s pre-eminent  
immunologist on this one  
[227] Dr. Schwartz subsequently added to that tweet:  
Case in point:  
[re-tweet of Dr. Gill’s tweet: T-cell immunity, T-cell immunity, T-cell  
immunity…]  
[228] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Schwartz responded to a tweet by Mr. Picard which re-posted a  
tweet that expressed disdain for Picard and support for Dr. Gill, and added a comment that “the  
trolls [were] out in full force”:  
Yes, her army of despicables also attacked me last week when I called her out  
for her anti-science stance.  
[229] On August 6, 2020, Dr. Schwartz responded to a tweet from Dr. Jo Kennelly, the late wife  
of Dr. Frank Plummer, in which Dr. Kennelly indicated that vaccine cell creation and T-cell natural  
immunity were not mutually exclusive in Dr. Plummer’s eyes:  
- Page 39 -  
Except it pains me that she uses his good name in vain to support her anti-  
science opinions.  
[230] On August 10, 2020, Dr. Schwartz re-tweeted an article from CBC of the same date, titled  
“Ontario doctor subject of complaints after COVID-19 tweet”.  
[231] On August 10, 2020, Dr. Schwartz tweeted:  
This pediatrician has consistently espoused misinformation & conspiracy  
theories at a time when trust in our profession is critically important. She  
accuses all who call her out of bigotry & corruption & hides behind summer  
student experience in a respected lab.  
[232] On October 4, 2020 Dr. Prado responded to a tweet posted by Dr. Andrew Fraser in which  
Dr. Fraser reported that he received threats from supporters of Dr. Gill to his personal email after  
challenging Dr. Gill’s tweets. Regarding the supporters that threatened Dr. Fraser, Dr. Prado wrote:  
I have no patience with conspiracy theory defenders. My family lives in  
Brazil. Many people they know had major issues because of COVID and were  
in the hospital. Some died. You are right, stay strong and keep pushing for  
scientific facts Andy!  
[233] Dr. Gill claims against these four Defendants in defamation and conspiracy. She also  
claims against Dr. Schwartz, Dr. Fazel, and Dr. Prado in negligence.  
[234] Dr. Gill cannot prove the substantial merit element as she does not have viable causes of  
action in defamation, negligence, or conspiracy. Dr. Gill cannot prove the “no valid defence”  
element as the defences of fair comment and qualified privilege advance by these Defendants have  
sufficient validity. Dr. Gill cannot prove that any damages she may have suffered are sufficiently  
serious for the interest in permitting the proceeding to continue to outweigh the public interest in  
protecting the impugned expressions, and therefore she cannot overcome the public interest hurdle.  
[235] Given that the proceeding arises from expressions made by these Defendants that relate to  
matters of public interest, the onus shifts to the Plaintiffs to show that there are grounds to believe  
that the proceeding has substantial merit and that these Defendants have no valid defence.  
[236] None of the impugned statements of these Defendants are capable of giving rise to the  
defamatory meanings alleged. Further, those meanings would not have arisen in the minds of  
reasonable readers. In the “Twitter-sphere” the exchanges would simply be seen as a disagreement  
between medical professionals in terms that would not be interpreted as defamatory.  
[237] In the circumstances, Dr. Gill cannot show that there are reasonable grounds to support a  
finding that these Defendants owed her a duty of care in these circumstances.  
[238] There are no grounds to believe the conspiracy claim has substantial merit. The statement  
of claim is deficient and does not disclose a reasonable cause of action as it relates to the claim of  
- Page 40 -  
conspiracy against the moving parties. Moreover, Dr. Gill has put forward insufficient evidence to  
support such a claim.  
[239] Dr. Gill cannot satisfy the court that there are grounds to believe that her claims of  
defamation, negligence, or conspiracy are legally tenable and supported by evidence reasonably  
capable of belief such that they have a real prospect of success.  
[240] For the reasons set out in their detailed Factum at paragraphs 66 through 91, I agree with  
these Defendants that the Plaintiffs have not shown that their defences of fair comment and  
qualified privilege lack the necessary prospects of success to permit the action to proceed.  
[241] When the balancing test is applied to the claims against these Defendants I consider that  
the comparative interests and considerations are very heavily in favour of the position advanced  
of these Defendants. Accordingly, all claims made against them are dismissed.  
G. Dr. Polevoy  
[242] Dr. Polevoy is a retired physician now living in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario. He has  
been an advocate for good patient care and public health for many years. Dr. Polevoy is also an  
active physician leader with a long history of leadership in specialty associations, and provincial  
associations.  
[243] Dr. Polevoy uses his Twitter account as a platform to express his view on a number of  
topics, including to communicate with the public on health and medicine.  
[244] The Plaintiffs have claimed damages for alleged defamation on the basis of series of tweets  
posted between August 6, 2020 and October 21, 2020 similar in nature to those of the other  
physician Defendants.  
[245] Dr. Polevoy has adopted the arguments and submissions advanced on behalf of the other  
Defendant physicians with respect to the nature of his tweets and the available defences to him of  
fair comment and qualified privilege. In my opinion they apply equally to his tweeted expressions.  
Further, any communication expressing any complaint or concern about the Plaintiffs that he made  
to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which is the governing body for physicians  
in the province must be considered to have occurred on an occasion of qualified privilege.  
Qualified privilege is a strong defence to any claims made by the Plaintiffs of defamation.  
[246] A consideration of the factors that must be weighed when applying the ultimate balancing  
test on this motion likewise favours the interest in protecting his right to express himself on matters  
of public interest. As a result, all claims against Dr. Polevoy in this action are dismissed.  
H. Dr. Boozary  
[247] The only allegations in the Statement of Claim regarding Dr. Boozary are that he published  
three statements on his public Twitter profile in August 2020 which contain allegedly defamatory  
remarks concerning Dr. Gill.  
- Page 41 -  
[248] The following tweets are the allegedly defamatory tweets posted by Dr. Boozary:  
(a) On August 6, 2020:  
The war on science is real in Canada- maybe ugliest when it  
comes from our own MD’s. All indebted for the strength/integrity  
of science/health journalism as counter force up north.  
[attaches Dr. Kulvinder Kaur MDs tweet: if you have not yet  
figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying  
attention #FactsNotFear].  
(b) On August 7, 2020:  
#IstandWithPicard we all do. Hate only seems to fuel the bots  
will just continue to send love/strength to Andre/seven nation  
army of science at the front line. Trust in science and each other  
going to get us thru  
(c) On August 9, 2020:  
Being blocked by @dockaurG a badge of honour sure but  
unsettling/win for misinformation that there’s still an MD  
platform of >20k followers amplifying anti-science/anti-vax  
harm.  
[249] Dr. Boozary has an interest and is actively involved in the public health response to  
COVID-19 as a primary care doctor, as an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public  
Health, and as a co-lead for the Toronto Region’s COVID-19 Homelessness and Shelter Response.  
Through these roles and in the media, Dr. Boozary has been actively involved in public education.  
Dr. Boozary has also tweeted throughout the pandemic about emerging scientific research, his  
view on health policy responses, and how he believes we should be coming together to protect  
those who are most vulnerable.  
[250] The proceeding against Dr. Boozary arises from an expression made by Dr. Boozary that  
relates to a matter of public interest. Dr. Boozary’s tweets are expressions. All of Dr. Boozary’s  
tweets relate to the COVID-19 pandemic particularly about the importance of sharing health  
science information during the crisis which is a topic of obvious public interest. At this stage,  
the court is not assessing the quality of the expression, and so it is not legally relevant whether the  
expression is desirable or deleterious, valuable or vexatious, or whether it helps or hampers the  
public interest … The question is only whether the expression pertains to any matter of public  
interest, defined broadly. This is not an onerous burden, and is clearly met in this case.  
[251] Dr. Boozary’s August 6 tweet does not make any defamatory statement about Dr. Gill. Dr.  
Gill tweeted “we don’t need a vaccine”, which was counter to prevailing scientific opinion that a  
vaccine is necessary to reduce mortality and prevent the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Dr.  
- Page 42 -  
Boozary stated in the August 6 tweet in response, copying Dr. Gill’s tweet, “The war on science  
is real in Canada- maybe ugliest when it comes from our own MD’s.”  
[252] Dr. Boozary’s tweet does not injure Dr. Gill’s reputation. Dr. Gill’s own expression has an  
impact on her reputation in that people reading it may either agree or disagree and people may feel  
strongly either way. Dr. Gill has also continued to openly broadcast her opinions on the public  
health response to COVID-19, even where those opinions are contrary to prevailing scientific  
opinion, and is thus maintaining the reputation that she has created. Dr. Boozary’s election to share  
his own view on the matter, to his much smaller audience, would not affect Dr. Gill’s reputation.  
Those who agree with Dr. Gill might actually support the idea that she is involved in a “war on  
science” in that they disagree with the prevailing scientific opinion of the importance of vaccines  
in fighting COVID-19. In short, Dr. Boozary’s comments in the August 6 tweet did nothing to  
lower the reputation of Dr. Gill and are not defamatory.  
[253] Dr. Boozary’s August 7 tweet is also not defamatory. The words of the Tweet do not refer  
to Dr. Gill. The Tweet is about hateful “bots”, which by definition are unidentified Twitter users,  
and attempts to offer support to André Picard and scientists at the front line in the pandemic. A  
reasonable person could not interpret the August 7 tweet to have lowered Dr. Gill’s reputation in  
any way.  
[254] Finally, the August 9 tweet also is not defamatory. In the tweet, Dr. Boozary did not claim  
that Dr. Gill is anti-science or anti-vaccine, but rather that she used her large platform to amplify  
messages that are anti-science and anti-vaccine. He stated his opinion that it was concerning for a  
medical doctor with so many followers to be amplifying medical information which he considered  
to be contrary to scientific evidence. The August 9 tweet does not lower Dr. Gill’s reputation as  
anyone familiar with Dr. Gill’s Twitter account would be aware of the content she shares and could  
recognize that Dr. Boozary was stating his own views about that content, not falsely alleging  
anything against Dr. Gill.  
[255] Even if Dr. Boozary’s tweets were somehow defamatory, then the defence of fair comment  
applies to them. Thus, the Plaintiffs are unable to meet their burden of showing there are grounds  
to believe that Dr. Boozary’s defence has no real prospect of success.  
[256] All three of Dr. Boozary’s tweets clearly meet the first criteria as they relate to the  
dissemination of scientific information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a matter of  
obvious public interest. The specific issues that Dr. Boozary was tweeting about within the broader  
rubric of the pandemic namely, concerns about a medical doctor denying the need for a vaccine  
and support for health science reporting are of particular concern during this global crisis.  
[257] Turning to the other criteria for establishing fair comment for the August 6 tweet, these  
criteria are met. Dr. Boozary’s comment relates to the fact that Dr. Gill tweeted that “we don’t  
need a vaccine”; he embedded Dr. Gill’s full tweet as evidence of this fact. The August 6 tweet is  
recognizable as a comment because “the war on science is real” is a conclusion or observation  
which is generally incapable of proof. Further, it is a matter of Dr. Boozary’s opinion to say it is  
“ugliest” when this comes from a medical doctor. Any person could honestly hold these views,  
- Page 43 -  
given the prevailing scientific position that we do need a vaccine to combat COVID-19 and the  
important role of doctors in assuaging vaccine hesitancy.  
[258] The other criteria are also met for the August 7 tweet. This tweet does not make any  
comment about Dr. Gill. Dr. Boozary makes three comments in this tweet: (1) he supports Picard  
and others on the “front line” in science; (2) we need to trust in science and each other; and (3)  
hate fuels the “bots”. The first two comments are statements of support that require no factual  
basis.  
[259] With respect to the third comment, Dr. Boozary’s evidence in cross-examination was that  
he understood the term “bots” to refer to accounts that have no obvious human identity or  
accountability and are spreading vitriol against individuals not in relation to the subject matter of  
their tweets but against them personally, such as death threats.  
[260] The August 7 tweet is a matter of comment and opinion, and a person could honestly  
express the same opinions on the facts.  
[261] Finally, the August 9 tweet also meets the other criteria. The facts grounding Dr.  
Boozary’s comments in this tweet are: Dr. Gill blocked Dr. Boozary on Twitter, Dr. Gill is a  
medical doctor, Dr. Gill had more than 20,000 twitter followers and Dr. Gill tweeted (which is  
quoted in Dr. Boozary’s August 6 tweet) that “we don’t need a vaccine”. Calling Dr. Gill blocking  
him a “badge of honour” is a comment, as this is a subjective personal perspective on the known  
fact. Dr. Boozary also comments subjectively that he considers the existence of her account  
“unsettling” and a “win for misinformation”, which are also clearly opinions.  
[262] While Dr. Boozary has met the criteria for the defence of fair comment for all three  
expressions at issue, Dr. Gill has failed to establish that Dr. Boozary was actuated by express  
malice, an onus which she bears in order to defeat the privilege. Malice relates to the state of mind  
of the defendant and is ordinarily established through proof that the defendant knew the statement  
was untrue, was reckless with respect to its truth, did not believe the statements were true, or had  
some improper motive or purpose. Although Dr. Gill did not plead malice with any specificity, her  
claim that Dr. Boozary acted maliciously cannot succeed on any of these bases. Dr. Boozary  
affirmed his belief in the statements and that he made those statements for the purpose of  
expressing his opinion on the dissemination of public health information, without malicious intent.  
Dr. Boozary also denied Dr. Gill’s unsupported allegation that his tweets were sexist, racist, or  
misogynistic.  
[263] In applying the balancing test, Dr. Boozary rightly submits that Dr. Gill has failed to  
establish both the existence of harm as well as causation both of which are required under the  
test.  
[264] Dr. Boozary’s expression has high importance. His tweets related to the spread of scientific  
information regarding the deadly global pandemic, in the midst of the crisis. Scientific and public  
health information about COVID-19 is a matter of obvious public interest, because everyone in  
the public has a substantial concern about this topic in that it affects the welfare of citizens, and in  
- Page 44 -  
particular there has been considerable public controversy about vaccinations. This interest far  
outweighs any interest that could support allowing the action against him to proceed.  
[265] An application of the final balancing test results in a determination in Dr. Boozary’s favour.  
All claims against him in this action are dismissed.  
I. The Pointer Group Incorporated  
[266] On October 19, 2020 Dr. Gill delivered a notice of libel pursuant to section 5 of the Libel  
and Slander Act to The Pointer concerning an article published by The Pointer on August 13, 2020  
(the “Article”). The libel notice alleged that the Article contained defamatory statements about Dr.  
Gill.  
[267] On October 22, 2020, The Pointer responded to the libel notice and denied that the Article  
was defamatory.  
[268] The Article, published on August 13, 2020, reports on:  
(a) Tweets published by Dr. Gill on August 4, 5, 6 and 12, 2020, which appear  
in the Article in their entirety and which express her views that lockdowns  
are unwarranted and promotes the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment  
for the virus;  
(b) Twitter’s removal of Dr. Gill’s tweet on August 6, 2020, because it  
violated Twitter’s policies. The August 6, 2020 tweet is set out in the Article  
even though it was removed on Twitter. That tweet promoted T-cell immunity  
(herd immunity) and hydroxychloroquine as humanity’s effective defences  
against COVID-19;  
(c) Dr. Gill defending the use of a hydroxychloroquine and promoting it as  
“effective in the fight against COVID-19”;  
(d) A complaint made to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario  
(“CPSO”) about Dr. Gill’s tweets;  
(e) The fact there are medical studies that have questioned the use of  
hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19;  
(f) Health Canada’s position that it does not support the use of  
hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19 without a prescription and  
warning Canadians about false and misleading claims; and  
(g) Concerns expressed by Dr. David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology  
and toxicology at the University of Toronto, regarding Dr. Gill’s tweets  
including that her advice in her tweets is dangerous.  
- Page 45 -  
[269] Dr. Juurlink’s comments in the Article are not the subject of Dr. Gill’s claim and Dr.  
Juurlink is not a defendant in this action.  
[270] The Article reports on Dr. Gill’s own tweets, which are publicly available and are repeated  
verbatim in the Article. The Article also accurately reports that there are research and statements  
from public authorities that have contradicted Dr. Gill’s views and that other members of the  
medical community do not support her views, have made complaints about her public statements  
and are concerned about the impact those statements will have on members of the public. There is  
nothing in the Article that is not true.  
[271] Dr. Gill appears to have asserted that she did not make the statements attributed to her, and  
that the statements as reported were distorted and taken out of context. The Article simply reports  
on her tweets and does not take them out of context.  
[272] Dr. Gill knowingly tweeted about the pandemic, despite the controversial nature of her  
views, and knowing that they would be subject to public criticism and media reports. The Article  
is a fair and accurate report about Dr. Gill’s tweets and the controversy created by them, and is  
based on true underlying fact.  
[273] The public has an interest in receiving competing viewpoints to those expressed publicly  
by Dr. Gill. Information on whether Dr. Gill’s opinions expressed in her tweets are disputed is  
important to public debate and information about COVID-19 and potential treatments.  
[274] The Pointer states that attempts to contact Dr. Gill for comment were made before  
publishing the Article, but she did not respond, nor did she follow up after publication of the  
Article. Before the Article was published, among other things, The Pointer sent an email to Dr.  
Gill at the email address: [email protected], the email address for Concerned  
Ontario Doctors, but received no reply.  
[275] In her affidavit sworn June 14, 2021 Dr. Gill asserted for the first time that The Pointer did  
not attempt to contact her before publishing the Article. She did not complain about this in her  
libel notice or in her Statement of Claim. In response to the libel notice, The Pointer wrote, among  
other things, that it had attempted to contact Dr. Gill for comment before publishing the Article.  
Dr. Gill did not dispute this.  
[276] The Article contains references to four reliable sources: Dr. Juurlink, Health Canada,  
Health Link BC, and an extensive study by the New England Journal of Medicine on the efficacy  
of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19.  
[277] Dr. Gill claims that The Pointer did not engage in responsible journalism because it simply  
repeated the defamation of others without verification or competent investigation and echoed the  
defamation of the other Defendants. However, I agree with the arguments advanced by the Pointer  
that:  
(a) There was no repetition of defamation of others. The Article contained  
quotations from an interview The Pointer conducted with Dr. Juurlink. Dr.  
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Juurlink is not a named defendant. The quotation in the Article from Dr.  
Juurlink is a statement of his opinion and it is a reasonable comment of his  
concerns about Dr. Gill’s tweets. The Article is reporting his concerns, which  
are shared by other members of the medical community; and  
(b) There was no echoing of the defamation of the other defendants. The sole  
reference to another defendant in the Article was an indirect reference to the  
fact “the CBC [i.e. Radio Canada] reported Dr. Alex Nataros… filed a  
complaint with the [CPSO] for an “egregious spread of misinformation.””  
The article quotes from a tweet made by Dr. Nataros in response to Dr. Gill’s  
tweets, which is part of Dr. Gill’s claim. However, one quote of one tweet by  
one other defendant does not constitute a general repeating or echoing the  
defamation of others. As noted, the action was discontinued against Radio  
Canada.  
[278] The Article therefore bears all of the features of a strong responsible journalism defence.  
[279] Journalists at large must have the freedom to responsibly report on the COVID-19  
pandemic, including Dr. Gill’s comments and the criticism of them, irrespective of whether Dr.  
Gill has a valid basis to assert that lockdowns are ineffective or that hydroxychloroquine is  
effective against COVID-19. The media must be permitted to report responsibly on comments that  
affect the public and which are a matter of public interest.  
[280] The Plaintiffs should not be permitted to stifle public discourse and participation in public  
health debates caused by their own public comments.  
[281] In my view, the Plaintiffs have failed to discharge their onus of showing that The Pointer’s  
defence of responsible journalism has very little chance of succeeding. In fact, I consider that the  
evidence entirely contradicts such a conclusion and that The Pointer has a very strong defence  
available to it.  
[282] Further and finally, when the balancing test is ultimately applied, it results in an assessment  
very much in favour of The Pointer and the public interest concerns it has advanced. As a result,  
the claims against it in this action must be dismissed.  
J. Alheli Picazo  
[283] The action against Picazo is based on four tweets she posted to her Twitter account. The  
first three comprised a “thread” or series of tweets posted on August 6, 2020, prompted by a tweet  
from the Defendant, André Picard earlier that day. Picard’s tweet embedded two tweets dated  
August 4 and 6, 2020 from Dr. Gill that read as follows:  
“If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not  
paying attention. #FactsNotFear”  
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and  
“#Humanity’s existing effective defences against #COVID19 to safely return  
to normal life now:  
-The Truth  
-T-cell immunity  
-Hydroxychloroquine”  
[284] In the first tweet in Picazo’s impugned August 6, 2020 thread, Picazo wrote, “Her  
behaviour and tweets throughout the pandemic have been grossly irresponsible, to say the least. I  
would have no faith in her as a doctor for anything.” Embedded in this tweet was an image of  
another tweet Dr. Gill sent on August 4, 2020, stating, “There is absolutely no medical or scientific  
reason for this prolonged, harmful and illogical lockdown. #FactsNotFear”. Picazo’s tweet also  
embedded a tweet by Bronca, which itself contained an image of the two tweets published by Dr.  
Gill set out at the previous paragraph.  
[285] Picazo’s second tweet stated, “This is unprofessional, imo.” “Imo” is a well-known  
acronym for “in my opinion”. That tweet embedded images of, and was a comment on, two  
additional tweets of Dr. Gill, which read:  
“#COVID19 Defined By  
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”  
“A lie told often enough becomes truth”  
“Cancer of bureaucracy is destroying medicine”  
“Media’s most powerful entity on earth: power to make the innocent guilty &  
to make the  
guilty innocent – control minds of masses””  
and  
““If you’re not careful, newspapers will have you hating the ppl who are  
oppressed & loving the ppl who are doing the oppressing” 2020: frontline  
MDs silenced/censored for speaking the truth & upholding HippocraticOath  
[sic] while media invokes fear & “journalists” propagate lies”  
[286] The third tweet in Picazo’s thread stated, “There is an abandonment of science happening  
here, she just doesn't seem to be able to recognize the culprit”, which was a comment on a tweet  
by Dr. Gill that stated:  
“My heart is broken watching #COVID19Canada unfold. Absolutely broken  
watching our govts embrace quackery & abandon science. Broken hearing  
endless political/media lies. Broken watching govts violate our  
freedom/rights. Broken from govts allowing Cdns to die when we can save  
them.”  
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[287] The final tweet by Picazo that Dr. Gill alleges was defamatory was posted on October 20,  
2020. That tweet was part of a series of tweets Picazo wrote regarding the renaming of Sir John  
A. MacDonald Hall at the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, which was a news story at that time.  
Picazo was responding to comments made by Queen’s Law professor Bruce Pardy that were  
critical of the proposal to remove the name. Picazo wrote, “What's more threatening to Canadians  
than the re-naming of a building? Covid denialism and promoting bad science and fringe  
theories/figures. #cdnpoli”. That tweet contained embedded images of four other tweets from  
various accounts, including one from Dr. Gill that promoted the use of HCQ.  
[288] Numerous articles and scholarly resources have been tendered by the various Defendants  
that make clear that Dr. Gill’s views on the use of lockdowns as a public health measure, the  
proximity of reaching her immunity, the efficacy and safety of HCQ as a treatment for COVID-  
19, and the necessity of a COVID-19 vaccine run contrary to the generally accepted views of the  
scientific and medical community.  
[289] To satisfy the requirements of s. 137.1(3), the moving party must demonstrate on a balance  
of probabilities that (i) the proceeding arises from an expression made by the moving party and  
that (ii) the expression relates to a matter of public interest. These requirements are easily satisfied  
in the case as against Picazo which arises from the four tweets referred to.  
[290] Dr. Gill has claimed in defamation and also alleged conspiracy. There are no grounds to  
believe that either of these claims has a real prospect of success. Further, there are no grounds to  
believe that Picazo’s defences of justification and fair comment have no real prospect of success.  
[291] Picazo’s impugned comments were that Dr. Gill’s tweets: (a) were grossly irresponsible;  
(b) were unprofessional; (c) constituted an abandonment of science; (d) contained bad science; and  
(e) contained fringe theories.  
[292] Although Dr. Gill further claims that Picazo said she engaged in “COVIDdenial”. Picazo’s  
October 20, 2020 tweet, which referred to “Covid denialism and promoting bad science and fringe  
theories/figures”, was directed at Bruce Pardy, not at Dr. Gill. Picazo’s tweet embedded four  
tweets (only one of which was a tweet of the Plaintiffs) that had been previously retweeted by  
Bruce Pardy. Reading this tweet in context, the meaning, as far as it relates to Dr. Gill’s tweet, is  
that it was Bruce Pardy who was promoting bad science and fringe theories. Dr. Gill’s tweet that  
was embedded in Picazo’s October 20, 2020 tweet simply attached an article promoting the use of  
HCQ to treat COVID-19, and so the meaning (as it relates to Dr. Gill) is that the use of HCQ to  
treat COVID is “bad science” and a “fringe theory”.  
[293] In my view, these comments were not defamatory. The thrust of Picazo’s comments is that  
Dr Gill’s tweets promoted ideas and theories related to lockdowns, HCQ, and vaccines that  
contradicted the generally accepted medical and scientific consensus and that the tweets were, for  
that reason, irresponsible and unprofessional. Prior to August 6, 2020, Dr. Gill already had a  
reputation as an advocate of controversial opinions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Picazo’s  
comments regarding Dr. Gill’s tweets contain the same conclusions that a reasonable person would  
have reached. Picazo’s tweets simply affirmed Dr. Gill’s self-positioning as a bold, advocate  
- Page 49 -  
willing to “tell it like it is” in the face of (in Dr. Gill’s view) misinformation being spread by the  
government, public health authorities, and the mainstream media.  
[294] The content and tone of Picazo’s tweets were mild and measured relative to the highly  
charged online discourse surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and, in particular, to the way in  
which Dr. Gill expresses herself on Twitter.  
[295] Picazo’s impugned comments also attract a strong fair comment defence. They relate to a  
matter of public interest. They are based on fact, i.e., the underlying tweets from Dr. Gill that  
Picazo was referring to and are embedded in Picazo’s tweets. These tweets, and the other tweets  
of Dr. Gill are publicly available on her Twitter page for the world to see.  
[296] Picazo’s comments are recognizable as comment and are expressly framed as such, and  
constitute an opinion that a person could honestly express on the proved facts. It is Picazo’s  
unchallenged evidence that she was expressing her honestly held opinion that Dr. Gill’s statements  
about COVID-19, vaccines and public health measures were inaccurate, irresponsible, and  
unprofessional for a medical doctor to be making, that they created a potential risk to public health,  
and that they ran counter to the prevailing views on these issues as expressed by public health  
authorities.  
[297] The Plaintiffs have failed in their onus of demonstrating that the defence of fair comment  
has little or no application to Picazo’s expressions. In my view, the record shows that a very strong  
defence in that regard is available to her.  
[298] Further, Dr. Gill has failed to demonstrate or particularize any overt acts by Picazo in  
furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, to explain how Picazo acted in concert with other  
Defendants, or to set out particularized allegations of damages suffered as a result of the  
conspiracy. The conspiracy claim fails to meet the “substantial merit” test and should be dismissed  
on this basis alone.  
[299] Finally, an application of the ultimate balancing test very much favours Picazo and the  
interests and values that she has argued must be protected. Accordingly, I conclude that all claims  
in this action against her ought to be dismissed.  
K. Bruce Arthur  
[300] On August 6, 2020, Arthur saw a tweet by André Picard, whom he follows on Twitter,  
which embedded the following August 4, 2020 tweet by Dr. Gill:  
“If you have not figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying  
attention. #FactsNotFear”  
[301] Arthur was concerned by this tweet because it contradicted the public health advice he  
had become aware of over the previous months. He was particularly concerned that the tweet had  
been made by a physician.  
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[302] Arthur then reviewed Dr. Gill’s Twitter account, and saw the following tweets:  
a) “There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged,  
harmful and illogical lockdown.”  
b) “Current status of #COVID19 99.9% Politics, Power, Greed & Fear. 0.1%  
Science & Medicine.”  
c) “#Humanity’s existing effective defences against #COVID19 to safely  
return to normal life now: -The Truth T-cell Immunity –  
Hydroxychloroquine.”  
[303] Arthur observed that Dr. Gill’s tweets had been retweeted many, many times.  
[304] Arthur also observed that Dr. Gill had tweeted about André Picard, accusing him of having  
been appointed by Trudeau to the COVID-19 Impact Committee “to drive the political WHO  
narrative.” This tweet had resulted in a barrage of negative online vitriol directed at Picard.  
[305] After learning that Dr. Gill had blocked him from being able to view her Twitter page,  
Arthur tweeted the following:  
I don’t boast about being blocked, but this one is a badge of honour, from a  
Canadian doctor who is spreading dangerous misinformation, and who  
unleashed a troll farm at @picardonhealth, one of the finest public service  
journalists in Canada. What a disgrace.  
[Screenshot of Twitter message showing he had been blocked]  
Now, let’s wait and see which media outlet her a platform. It’ll be telling.  
[306] This single tweet is the sole subject of the defamation claim against Arthur.  
[307] The expression at issue relates to a matter of public interest namely, the COVID-19  
pandemic and ensuing public health response. The public interest nature of the expression should  
not be in dispute on this motion, particularly since Dr. Gill herself has extensively tweeted about  
this topic.  
[308] When determining whether a statement has a defamatory meaning, attention must be given  
to the mode of communication, context, and all surrounding circumstances. As a platform, Twitter  
allows for an open exchange of ideas and invites users to engage with the views of others. By  
making controversial statements on this very public platform, Dr. Gill implicitly invited members  
of the public to respond to her views.  
[309] Arthur’s tweet cannot bear the defamatory meanings ascribed to it by Dr. Gill. It does not  
call her a conspiracy theorist, it does not call into question her mental stability, and it says nothing  
about her ability to care for her patients. It merely states Arthur’s own view that her publicly-  
- Page 51 -  
available tweets include dangerous misinformation about COVID-19, and that the spreading of  
this misinformation and her related accusations hurled at Picard were a “disgrace”.  
[310] There is no evidence that the Arthur tweet lowered Dr. Gill’s reputation. Her tweets were  
available for the public to see. Any reasonable member of the community could immediately look  
at her Twitter page and discern for themselves whether they agreed with Arthur’s assessment of  
her tweets.  
[311] Dr. Gill has fostered a reputation for herself as an outspoken and controversial advocate  
against public health advice on COVID-19 measures, and the mainstream media’s coverage of  
COVID-19. Public health authorities have deemed anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown rhetoric to be  
“misinformation”. Therefore, Arthur’s characterization of Dr. Gill’s tweets as “misinformation”  
likely served only to solidify her stance as a crusader against public health advice and the  
mainstream media, a reputation she herself created.  
[312] Arthur’s tweet also attracts a strong defence of fair comment on a matter of public interest.  
It was on a matter of obvious public interest. It was based in fact, as it directly responded to Dr.  
Gill’s Twitter posts about vaccines, lockdowns, hydroxychloroquine and the overall COVID-19  
public health response, which she does not dispute making. The tweet expressed an honestly held  
opinion that many other Defendants in this litigation shared. There is no credible suggestion or  
evidence that it was motivated by malice.  
[313] Arthur’s tweet is also recognizable as comment. Arthur was reacting to the fact that Dr.  
Gill had blocked him on Twitter, and tweeted that it being blocked was a “badge of honour” due  
to his opinion that she was “spreading dangerous misinformation” and had unfairly criticized  
Picard. The final words, “What a disgrace”, shows that Arthur was only expressing his opinion  
and personal observation of Dr. Gill’s actions on Twitter.  
[314] Dr. Gill has not put forward any real evidence of any harm caused to her by Arthur’s single  
tweet, or of any reputational or other harm at all.  
[315] In any event, any potential harm arising from the impugned expressions is outweighed by  
the importance of allowing citizens to freely express themselves via social media platforms on  
what will be the defining public health issue of our time. An application of the ultimate balancing  
test to these facts requires that all claims against Arthur be dismissed.  
Conclusion  
[316] For these reasons, the motions brought by the Defendants are granted, and all claims  
against them in these proceedings are hereby dismissed.  
Costs  
[317] Given the position taken on behalf of the Plaintiffs by their counsel in response to the  
suggestion made by some of the Defendants that the Plaintiffs’ claims were being maintained with  
the possible benefit of third party funding, I did not consider it necessary or appropriate to refer to  
- Page 52 -  
it in the above reasons as it did not form any part of the applicable analysis. However, I should  
indicate to the parties that approach taken in that regard is without prejudice to the entitlement of  
any party to refer to such issue if there is a proper basis for doing so when making submissions on  
costs.  
[318] If the parties cannot agree on the subject of costs, written submissions may be delivered by  
the Defendants for my consideration within 30 days of the date of this decision. Written  
submissions may be delivered by the Plaintiffs within 30 days thereafter.  
Released: February 24, 2022  
- Page 53 -  
CITATION: Gill v. Maciver, 2022 ONSC 1279  
COURT FILE NO.: CV-20-652918-0000  
DATE: 20220224  
ONTARIO  
SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE  
BETWEEN:  
Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill and Dr. Ashvinder Kaur Lamba  
Plaintiffs  
and –  
Dr. Angus Maciver, Dr. Nadia Alam, André Picard, Dr.  
Michelle Cohen, Dr. Alex Nataros, Dr. Ilan Schwartz,  
Dr. Andrew Fraser, Dr. Marco Prado, Timothy  
Caulfield, Dr. Sajjad Fazel, Alheli Picazo, Bruce Arthur,  
Dr. Terry Polevoy, Dr. John Van Aerde, Dr. Andrew  
Boozary, Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, Dr. David Jacobs, Tristan  
Bronca, Carly Weeks, The Pointer, The Hamilton  
Spectator, Société-Radio Canada, the Medical Post  
Defendants  
REASONS FOR DECISION  
Stewart J.  
Released: February 24, 2022  



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