Defendant ANI Media moved to dismiss or to permanently stay the action, arguing that the Ontario court neither has jurisdiction over the subject matter nor is the convenient forum for the action.
Justice Jessica Kimmel, writing for the Superior Court, first considered whether there is a presumptive connection between the claim and the province. One factor, as indicated in Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17, is the location of the commission of the alleged defamation.
The plaintiff cited Haaretz.com v. Goldhar, 2018 SCC 28, which states that the “situs of Internet-based defamation is the place where the defamatory statements are read, accessed or downloaded by the third-party.” The plaintiff thus contended that establishing a presumptive connection factor is “virtually automatic” in online defamation cases.
The plaintiff alleged that thousands of people in Ontario had read the defamatory statements and presented evidence that an employee and a volunteer had accessed and downloaded the ANI Media article in Ontario. The employee stated that volunteers had reached out to express their concerns about the article and had cancelled their donations.
The court found that while it may be argued that Ontario is the location of the alleged defamation, the presumptive connection is not overwhelming. There is limited admissible evidence of the article being accessed and downloaded in Ontario, but the evidence relating to the donors and to its…