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Climate Scientist Andrew Weaver Wins $50,000 in Defamation Suit Against National Post, Terence Corcoran

The B.C. Supreme Court awarded $50,000 in damages to climate scientist Andrew Weaver in a ruling Friday that confirms articles published by the National Post defamed his character.

The ruling names Terence Corcoran, editor of the Financial Post, Peter Foster, a columnist at the National Post, Kevin Libin, a journalist that contributes to the Financial Post and National Post publisher Gordon Fisher.

Four articles published in 2009 and 2010 refer to Weaver, now MLA for Canada’s Green Party, as an “alarmist” who disseminates “agit-prop” and a “sensationalist” that “cherry-picked” data as “Canada’s warmest spinner-in-chief.” Weaver was previously a lead author on a number of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports.

In the damages section of the ruling (attached below), Madam Justice Emily Burke notes, “the defamation in this case was serious. It offended Dr. Weaver’s character and the defendants refused to publish a retraction.”

Justice Burke concluded the defendants “have been careless or indifferent to the accuracy of the facts,” adding, “they were more interested in espousing a particular view than assessing the accuracy of the facts."

Weaver told DeSmog Canada he’s “thrilled” with the ruling.

"I am absolutely thrilled with today's B.C. Supreme Court judgment in my libel case against the National Post, Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster, Kevin Libin and Gordon Fisher.”

Weaver said he initiated the lawsuit in 2010 when the National Post refused to retract the offending articles “that attributed to me statements I never made, accused me of things I never did, and attacked me for views I never held."

“I felt I had to take this matter to court to clear my name and correct the public record. This judgment does precisely that.”

Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, said the ruling “is a victory for climate scientists everywhere.”

There is “an extremely long history of efforts by climate deniers and contrarians to attack not just climate science, but climate scientists: to smear their scientific reputations, to distort their statements, and to make false and defamatory accusations,” Gleick told DeSmog Canada.

Gleick said defamation “has been a standard tactic for years, especially as the science of climate change has continued to strengthen and solidify.”

The attack on Weaver’s credibility is unfortunately only one of many examples, he said.

“While I'm sure the ruling will not stop the continued assault on climate science and scientists, it should certainly put people on notice that there is a responsibility to avoid such irresponsible attacks and a real cost for failing to do so. I hope this ruling has that effect."

Weaver said he is looking forward to the defendants “publishing a complete retraction and removing the offending articles from electronic databases.”

The four articles in question, as listed in the court ruling, can be seen below. Three of these articles still appear on the National Post’s website at the time of publication.

 

As part of his suit, Weaver also argued the National Post should take responsibility for the articles republished on third-party sites.

“I further look forward to them withdrawing consent given to third parties to re-publish the articles and to require them to cease re-publication,” Weaver said.

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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