Defamation and Libel Primer

In November of 2017, I published a piece titled “Defamation and Libel and Smears, oh my! In it, the meanings of defamation and libel were clearly covered. However, one of my readers asked me to re-clarify for him the differences in relation to another article, so here is the simpler primer.

In the Province of Ontario and across most of the civilized literate world, if you say something about someone that is true, it is NOT defamation. If you say something about someone that is false, but does not damage their character or reputation, it is NOT defamation.

The main difference between defamation and libel is that the former is in speech and the latter is in print. Print it in a newspaper or magazine or blog, and it’s libel.

So for example, if you write in a blog that a certain journalist does not have professional credentials and smear his reputation, and it turns out that the accusation is not true and you were using misinformation, that is libel. If you say those same false things in public or private, that is defamation. Now, if when discovering your error, you withdraw the offending accusation, and make a full and sincere apology for your error in print, you’re a decent human being. If not, there’s a rock waiting for you to crawl back under.

In a recent blog, I commented that a colleague of mine, a well-respected local reporter and editor, had written an insightful commentary about gun violence and bullying. In that editorial he asked for answers, to which I responded last week with an article titled “An Easy Answer for Bill.” Bill also published my shorter Letter to the Editor response in his paper last week.

In his original article, Bill confessed to having been part of a group in school that had bullied other students. One day one of the targets of his taunts threatened to kill Bill. The situation was resolved without violence, but being a man of good conscience, it made Bill reflect on, as he put it so eloquently, “trying to navigate through adolescence while crashing into people trying to do the same.”

When I concluded my editorial on how differently that could have ended in a high school in Florida, I commented, “Just be grateful, Bill, that the boy you bullied in school didn’t carry an AR-15.”

Now, for my challenged reader, although this gave a fine opportunity to clarify the difference between defamation and libel (and compliment Bill on his eloquence) there is nothing even remotely associated with either defamation or libel in my editorial. Learning to read and comprehend is such a valuable skill.  These editorials are written for graduate level readers. According to the good old Flesch-Kincaid analyzer, the Star and Globe & Mail and National Post all come in at upper high school levels. On the other hand, the Sun is at a Middle School level and may be easier to understand for some – it uses a lot of pictures.

In summary, it is defamation if spoken, libel if printed, and neither if the words are true.

And, dear reader, I’m still waiting for that full and sincere apology.


Skid Crease, Caledon,

Member in good standing with the Canadian Association of Journalists

* image from

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Justin and the “K” Conundrum

have a friend who I admire very much as a teacher and a dramatist. He decided he wanted to try politics. He worked hard and was very successful. So successful that he became the leader of his political party!

He was also very photogenic and charismatic and so were his wife and family. They liked to dress up. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with him and he loved having his picture taken with everyone. People began to wonder if he liked having his picture taken and playing dress-up more than leading his country.

The trouble really began with the K’s. The 3 K’s to be specific. No, no – not the KKK – that group is the polar opposite of his world view! I am referring to Khan, Kinder, and Khalistan.

The first misstep was a family holiday with his friend the Aga Khan. Now, if he had been a private citizen, no problem. But when a country’s elected leader takes a private holiday courtesy of a major contributor to his political party, that has to be approved by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner prior to departure. Oops.

The second misstep was the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline using an approval process set up by the previous government. That process was unscientific, approved by an energy board made of partisan appointees, and lacking in full community involvement. Justin promised to change all that. He didn’t. That was complicated by his smack down of young woman challenging his position. He  shouted at her angrily and had her ejected from the public meeting. For all the country to see on the CBC. Really.

The third misstep was a costume trip to India in which Khalistan terrorism overshadowed the photo ops. Especially when one of his Sikh MP’s on the trip invited a convicted terrorist criminal to the party, involving two events. The  Khalistan separation issues got linked to several other Sikh members of his Party, resurrecting 329 ghosts from the 1985 Air India bombing. To complicate matters, Justin and his team tried to spin the story by having a senior civil servant place the blame on an Indian government conspiracy instead of squarely on the back of his own MP. Bad enough to try to squirm out of taking full responsibility for an international screw-up without also insulting the Indian government in the process.

Time to get the good ship Justin back on course.

Just like there is no “I” in “team” here is no “K” in “sunny days.”


Skid Crease

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Canada’s Greenwash

 On March 15, 2018 the government of Canada declared that it was going to dedicate $500 million to projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Brilliant. The year is 2018. It is thirty years since the alarm was sounded in Toronto by the World Meteorological Society. In this case, better late than never doesn’t quite cut it.


But, if there is any good day to celebrate Canada’s Greenwashing, it surely is on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sure most of our politicians are kissing the blarney stone right now.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the government’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge will hand out the $500 million over the next four years to fund projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also saving energy and creating green jobs.

I have a couple of suggestions. First, put the $500 million into a Precautionary Principles Fund for mitigating the coming flood, drought, fire, ice storm, Arctic thaw, and coastal erosion insurance claims. Secondly, if you really want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suspend all developments in the tar sands, thirdly close all coal fired electricity plants,  fourthly stop extracting oil and fracking gas, and finally convert fossil fuel company dinosaurs into twenty-first century renewable energy corporations.

It is making me gag to hear our government offer $500 million to explore solutions that were proposed thirty years ago. It’s like gun violence – the solution is easy. Control the guns! You want to significantly reduce greenhouse gases? Then shut down the industries that produce excessive greenhouse gases and don’t approve projects like Trans Mountain Pipeline that encourage more fossil fuel use! You want to stop violence against women? Expose and #MeToo the heck out of stupid, abusive men!

This is the KISS principle, consensual of course, for environmental literacy.

Your community wants clean water? Don’t dump toxic chemicals or sewage into the watershed. I’m sure Grassy Narrows would have appreciated that private corporation requirement with stringent government oversight and enforcement instead of a lazy blind eye.. Don’t reward people with a $500 million taxpayer bailout when they are so environmentally illiterate that they don’t  realize it’s not a good idea to defecate in the community well. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Well then, stop doing that!”

Canada stands tall on the world stage, represented by wonderful and well-meaning people, lauded in the myth of our green environmental standing by dint of our tiny global population. But per capita, we are major players in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

This is not my opinion alone. Try this from a November 2017 news report by Bob Weber of the Canadian Press for CBC:

“To an international diplomat, the irony is painful — the country that promised action on climate change is falling behind while the country that has spurned a major treaty on the issue is making progress.

That’s Canada and the United States, Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said Wednesday.

“It’s a bit of a paradox, here,” Gurria told The Canadian Press. “In Canada, you have a situation where you have a very strong political will to reduce, but effectively it has not gone on the planned road.

“In the United States, you have a government that has pulled out of the (Paris) agreement, but in the United States you are having a reduction in emissions.”

Gurria has high praise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government’s strong vocal support for climate change. Gurria said Trudeau made a real contribution to reaching the Paris deal in 2015 in which 169 countries promised to reduce their emissions enough to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius.

But when the signatories get together next year to take a look at each other’s progress, Canada may not be so much in evidence.

“You have here a very proactive and decisive leadership moving in the direction of reduction of emissions, and a very active participant in the Paris agreement and a very active participant in the whole of the world’s move,” said Gurria, who was in Toronto to speak at the Munk School at the University of Toronto.

“While at the same time, the local situation is showing that speed of reduction is not as fast as one would have wanted.”

Yes, Bob. Yes, Canada. Yes, Catherine. Not what we wanted by March 2018. And not worth $500 million to start now. The train has already left the station. Either shut down the big emitters or stop proselytizing. Our children are the first recognize a greenwash and. like the students in Parkland, they want action, not a greenwash stuck in the spin cycle.

The way I see it.


 Skid Crease, Caledon

 *image from

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Who Was Your Voice for Bolton?


Just who exactly is or was Your Voice for Bolton?

This supposed citizen’s group, apparently representing a handful of residents and business owners in Bolton has been claiming to be the “Voice” for Bolton over the past several years. But who exactly are they? In response to their antagonistic stance towards the Town of Caledon on many issues, other citizens have declared that this organization is certainly NOT their voice for Bolton or Caledon.

Over the past ten years, it appears that only one development corporation, one local politician and one local lobby group have opposed the new Canadian Tire Facility and Bolton Residential Expansion Study (BRES) Option 3. That’s not a voice for Bolton that sounds entirely inclusive, respectful or representative. The decision to go ahead with the Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton was approved by both the Town and the Province of Ontario. It seems like all of this “Voice” has more to do with litigious land development speculation interests around BRES Option 6 in the south of Bolton for the benefit of a few rather than the long-term economic and environmental benefits for the whole of Bolton and Caledon’s citizens.

As far as Your Voice for Bolton (YVFB) is concerned, there are only occasional pronouncements now from Kim Seipt, the Treasurer of the “incorporated grass roots community group”. However, their raison d’etre has come and gone with the building of the new Canadian Tire Facility, and so apparently has much of their membership.  At the BRES Pre Hearing Conference this past September, Ms. Seipt assured the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that “Your Voice for Bolton” was still an incorporated entity.

However, calls to Service Canada and Service Ontario on March 9, 2018, revealed that the Your Voice for Bolton Incorporation status, #001893501, is also gone, dissolved on December 4, 2015 by the Service Ontario Companies Branch due to lack of communication.  Possibly unaware of that fact, the group was still identifying itself as “incorporated” in official documents on September 25, 2017. As of the time of this publication, the “incorporated entity” had yet to be revived, and current membership numbers, if any, yet to be confirmed.

Originally formed to lobby against the new Canadian Tire Distribution Centre, the “group” has now turned its attention to lobbying against the Town of Caledon regarding employment land designations in Bolton. Specifically, the BRES Option choices that are now the subject of the OMB Case No.: PL170058.

In this case, YVFB spokesperson Kim Seipt is a participant at the OMB pre-hearings, supporting the Region of Peel decision against the Town of Caledon.  The group, which numbered roughly 250 at the peak of their Canadian Tire protests, claims to be made up of “concerned residents of Bolton, residing and/or operating businesses in the community.” However, the Canadian Tire Facility has been up and operating at full capacity for some time now and nary a whisper from those “concerned citizens” about the horrors that YVFB predicted.

In fact, the only time any controversy emerged lately was over misleading information discussed at a meeting held by Regional Councillor Annette Groves that the Canadian Tire Facility was running a Town financed shuttle bus service to bring workers in from Brampton. That turned out to be as false as the “hydrogen bomb” scare first reported in 2014 by Toronto Star urban affairs reporter San Grewal (Grewal is no longer employed by the Star).

Canadian Tire reintroduced the hydrogen fuel cell project in 2016 and again Grewal stoked fears about “hazardous” hydrogen, reporting that residents were “angry” and “shocked’ to learn the plan had been approved. He reported that “Kim Seipt, the spokesperson for the group Your Voice for Bolton, where the facility is located, said her members are ‘incredibly disappointed’ that the hydrogen plan might get pushed through without a public approval process” for “a potentially dangerous facility like this.”

Keep in mind, YVFB was already unincorporated at this time, and no public consultation process was needed to approve the future use of very safe  hydrogen fuel at the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre. This remains a perfect example of how to use sloppy, misinformed and incendiary “news” reporting to manufacture a crisis.

Regional Councillor Groves was also quoted in Grewal’s 2016 article as saying, “I am disappointed with the way the town (of Caledon) is handling this again.” She must have been very disappointed because she was also the only Caledon Regional Councillor to vote against the Town of Caledon at the Region of Peel. The 2016 BRES vote led to the current OMB case pitting Caledon against the Region of Peel. Groves chose to support YVFB and Option 6 over the Town of Caledon’s choice of Option 3.

It seems that a few people do not like the Canadian Tire Facility or the Town’s idea of employment lands anywhere close to some of the BRES lands in south Bolton, particularly anything that might interfere with residential development in Option 6 near Mayfield and Coleraine. If you are involved in land development, real estate and home design you want as much residential development as you can get. Employment lands just don’t pull in the big bucks that come with rows of ticky-tacky little houses. However, the Town of Caledon is about much more than one development project.

The trained and talented engineers and urban planning professionals from the Town of Caledon staff spent ten years deciding that the Option 3 land further north was the best bet for the Town. They looked long term with real fiduciary responsibility to the benefits of building infrastructure linking the south to the higher land north using today’s dollars. Start with Option 3 and then plug in to the already built sewer and water and energy infrastructure as we move south from Castlederg and Gore Road to Mayfield Road and Coleraine.

That would put Option 6 last on the development list, and that would make certain vested interests very frustrated. And that frustration needs a voice. On the other hand, the majority of citizens who think our Town planners did a fine job over the last ten years in carefully choosing Option 3 believe it is better that the BRES be done wisely and well for the good of us all, rather than rush into a decision that benefits only a few.

Now, I was wrong about Trump and Ford (never thought they’d get elected to positions of “leadership”), so I may have missed something here. But there is a history and a pattern that connects land development to profit, power, privilege and politics. And not necessarily for the good of “the people”.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease  (originally published as an opinion editorial for Just Sayin’ Caledon)

p.s. The new Canadian Tire Facility in Bolton will be holding an Open House this spring … for all of our citizens.

Note: Requests to Kim Seipt and Your Voice for Bolton for an updated membership list and executives list had not been answered by the time of publication.



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An Easy Answer for Bill

On February 22, 2018, Bill Rea, the Editor of the Caledon Citizen, published an opinion commentary on bullying, gun violence and gun control, titled “No Easy Answers” in which he asked a final question: “Who’s got a solution?”

Well, Bill, I have a really easy solution. And it comes straight from the student survivors of the Parkland shootings who witnessed the murders of seventeen of their classmates and teachers. Ban assault weapons and bump fire stock accessories, eliminate multi round magazines, improve and enforce background checks, and raise the age of purchase for any firearm to 21. For starters. Immediately. The students may not have had a solution to teenage angst and anger, but they sure had a solution to gun violence. Control access to the guns!

This will not eliminate bullying and psychopathic behaviour. That takes a societal change in parenting and mental health support. The underlying causes of what drives a person to commit acts of violence against others are rooted in poverty, isolation, depression, and anger that “the system” is rigged, the poor get poorer, my firing or expulsion is someone else’s fault, and I’m not gonna take it anymore! As author Issac Asimov so eloquently noted, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

The shootings took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Seventeen were killed and seventeen wounded by bullets fired by a 19-year-old former student using an AR-15 style assault rifle that he had purchased the previous February. Over the past year, he had legally purchased ten rifles including the one he used to murder seventeen of his former classmates and teachers.

In the outpouring of national grief and calls for gun control that followed the murders, there arose a clarion call from The National Rifle Association (NRA) defending the right of Americans “to bear arms” as protected by the 2nd Amendment of their Constitution.

So, a little history lesson is in order. First, the Second Amendment was an amendment and needs to be amended for the 21st century. When it was written in 1791, the most advanced rifle of the time was the Kentucky long rifle. I say, let every American over 21 carry one of those – no questions asked. When they run out of their two musket balls they can beat each other.

Secondly, the amendment was also designed to give the American people a protective militia until such time as the colonies had a standing army. Last time I checked, the U.S. had formed a regular Army after they lost the War of 1812 to Tecumseh and the British. And the official U.S. Army we know today was formed in 1917 by the United States War Department. Today the U.S.A. has a National Guard and a standing military and no reason for every NRA loving American to carry an assault rifle. So, the need for the Second Amendment has come and gone – get rid of it. There’s a solution.

Thirdly, ban the NRA from any political lobbying and send Wayne LaPierre to Tai Chi classes.

On Friday, March 9, 2018, Rick Scott, the Governor of the State of Florida, signed into law a bill raising the purchase age for firearms from 18 to 21. Other provisions of the law include banning the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, giving law enforcement greater power to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit, and additional funding for either training and arming select school teachers, or using those funds to hire more armed school resource officers.

The NRA, of course, promptly sued the State of Florida, citing the 2nd (right to bear arms) and 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (the 14th granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War – the NRA contends their “right to own property” covers assault weapons).

Some in Canada tried to characterize this as an Urban/Rural issue regarding gun ownership. Not so. No hunter or farmer in his or her right mind needs an automatic multi-round magazine military assault weapon to bring home the meat or chase away the varmits. You use weapons like this to kill people. Just be grateful, Bill, that the boy you bullied in school didn’t carry an AR-15.

That is entirely what this discussion is about and the solution is easy, Bill.


Skid Crease, Caledon

 *Image of a Kentucky Long Rifle from

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