Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
I am extremely grateful for the judgment of a complete dismissal in the lawsuit brought against me by Andrew Weaver. It is a victory for free speech and a blow against the use of the law to silence people. As with all events, there is so much more that rarely receives attention yet is essential to understanding and improving conditions in the future.
While I savor the victory, people need to know that it was the second of three lawsuits all from the same lawyer, Roger McConchie, in Vancouver on behalf of members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In each case, he also filed lawsuits against the agency that published what I wrote or said. This is why Anthony Watts wisely asked me and I was willing to put the phrase “Guest Opinion” at the top of any column I wrote. Of course, the double-barreled lawsuits created complications in mounting any defense.
The first lawsuit was brought by Gordon McBean. In 1985, when he was Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment Canada he chaired the founding meeting of the IPCC in Villach Austria. My wife and I decided we could not afford to defend the case and so I withdrew the publication. This, in my opinion, achieved the objective of the lawsuit that many call SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). All the lawsuits were filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. BC had anti-SLAPP but for some unknown reason, it was withdrawn through legislation. The anti-SLAPP legislation is spreading as politicians and lawyers realize the dangers in using the law designed to protect people by silencing them. Eight of the other ten Canadian Provinces have anti-SLAPP legislation.
The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Andrew Weaver. At the time he was a professor of computer modelling at the University of Victoria and author on four of the IPCC Science Reports (1995, 2001, 2007, 2013). After filing the lawsuit, he was elected to the BC Legislative Assembly as a member of the Green Party. He later was re-elected as the leader of the BC Green Party.
Nine days after receiving the Weaver lawsuit I gave a public presentation in Winnipeg, including an explanation of the “hockey stick.” Afterward, I was interviewed by the Frontier Centre, and they published my flippant comment about the juxtaposition of Mann’s location. Within 24 hours I received the third lawsuit. That case was scheduled for trial on February 20, 2017, but after six years Mann sought an adjournment. We are now trying to get the case back into court. It was incorrectly reported that Mann was in contempt of court for failing to produce documents. He did not produce the documents, but he is only in contempt of the court when they so rule. That is part of what we will pursue now the Weaver trial is finished. How quickly that will proceed is hard to know because I understand Weaver is going to file an appeal.
The Weaver defamation case involved an article I wrote saying that the IPCC had diverted almost all climate research funding and scientific investigation to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This meant that there was virtually no advance in the wider understanding of climate and climate change. I referenced an interview with Weaver and attempts by a student to arrange a debate. I made comments that were not fully substantiated, so they became the base of the defamation lawsuit. Meanwhile, Weaver’s lawyer arranged with the publisher of Canada Free Press (CFP) to print an apology he had written. I never knew about that until after it was printed. As a result, I withdrew all my articles on file with CFP and did not send them anything else.
I contacted a lawyer, Michael Scherr of Pearlman Lindholm to defend myself against the case. He wrote a letter withdrawing and apologizing for the unsubstantiated comment but not the main thrust of the article. Apparently, that was insufficient for Weaver because he continued the lawsuit. He did not call a single witness to the trial. It lasted three weeks, and the judge allowed witness statements into the record without objection from Weaver. On Tuesday, February 13 the judgement was released with the ruling that all claims against me were dismissed. The judgment is available on line, so I will not influence anyone’s view by commenting here.
I am meeting with my lawyer next week to reactivate the Michael Mann trial as soon as possible. We will discuss costs but cannot do anything until the Appeals procedure is over. I can tell you I am overwhelmed by the financial and support from around the world. The sort of comment that is particularly encouraging is a variation of Voltaire’s comment that I don’t necessarily agree with you, but you must have the right to say it. Of course, Voltaire understood the station because he also said what I discovered “It is dangerous to be right in matters where men in authority are wrong.”
From the judgment, available online here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/18/02/2018BCSC0205.htm
The link also includes the original article by Dr. Ball, which spurred the lawsuit, under Appendix A. Here are some relevant excerpts from the court document.
 In my view, it is very unlikely that the Article and the opinions expressed therein had an impact on the views of anyone who read it, including their views, if any, of Dr. Weaver as a climate scientist. Rather, the reasonably thoughtful and informed reader would have recognized the Article as simply presenting one side of a highly charged public debate.
 Second, despite professing to have been “saddened, sickened and dismayed” by the Article, I am not satisfied that Dr. Weaver himself perceived the Article as genuinely threatening his actual reputation. As noted, Dr. Weaver has been actively and publically engaged in the climate change discussion for many years. That included endorsing political candidates who advanced policies he agreed with and opposing candidates with whom he disagreed. It is also quite apparent that he enjoys the “thrust and parry” of that discussion and that he places little stock in opposing views such as those espoused by Dr. Ball, which Dr. Weaver characterized as “odd” and “bizarre”. Dr. Weaver went so far as to post the Article on his “wall of hate” located outside his office, alongside other articles and correspondence from “climate doubters”. It is apparent that he views such material as more of a “badge of honour” than a legitimate challenge to his character or reputation.
 The law of defamation provides an important tool for protecting an individual’s reputation from unjustified attack. However, it is not intended to stifle debate on matters of public interest nor to compensate for every perceived slight or to quash contrary view points, no matter how ill-conceived. Public debate on matters of importance is an essential element of a free and democratic society and lies at the heart of the Charter guarantee of freedom of expression. As Justice Lebel observes, such debate often includes critical and even offensive commentary, which is best met through engagement and well-reasoned rejoinder. It is only when the words used reach the level of genuinely threatening a person’s actual reputation that resort to the law of defamation is available. Such is not the case here.
 In summary, the Article is a poorly written opinion piece that offers Dr. Ball’s views on conventional climate science and Dr. Weaver’s role as a supporter and teacher of that science. While the Article is derogatory of Dr. Weaver, it is not defamatory, in that the impugned words do not genuinely threaten Dr. Weaver’s reputation in the minds of reasonably thoughtful and informed readers. Dr. Weaver has therefore failed to establish the first element of the defamation test.
 Given this finding, I need not consider whether Dr. Weaver has established that the Article was published in the sense that it was downloaded and read in BC by anyone other than him. I also need not address the defences raised by Dr. Ball.
 Dr. Weaver’s claim is dismissed. If the parties cannot agree on costs, they may make arrangements to speak to the issue.