In Quebec, Philippe Magnan, an anti-radical Islamist blogger who operates the website Poste de veille was recently found guilty of defamation against sharia-supporting Dalila Awada. What he reported is not being disputed, including the fact that she links to radicals in her postings.
Despite the accuracy of the information he has to pay $60,000 in damages. Magnan has announced his intention to appeal the decision.
CANADA JUST OBLITERATED CITIZEN JOURNALISTS
The decision in what was once a free country guaranteeing free speech is far-reaching and eminently dangerous. It implies citizens may not report the news without being sued and convicted of a civil crime or worse.
It is a decision that goes against the individual’s freedoms and rights. While the Internet has seen a proliferation of citizen journalists, they have been around since well before the printing press. They serve as a counterpoint to biased mainstream news.
Free and independent citizens encourage thought, innovation, and divergent ideas instead of groupthink. All you hear in mainstream news is groupthink.
In this lawsuit, Magnan was criticized for damaging the reputation of Dalila Awada, the leading figure of Islam in Quebec. She promotes the wearing of the veil, by linking it in various articles, videos and messages published on Facebook. Her links connect to radical Islamism through its relationships and some events in which the veil is an issue.
NONE OF THE FACTS ARE DENIED. The truth and accuracy of Mr. Magnon’s report played no part in the decision — none!
In sections 237-239 of the ruling against Mr. Magnan, the courts found against the blogger — the citizen journalist — because he was not a mainstream reporter. The decision implies that news should not be examined on its own merits, but rather, according to the nature of the sources (mainstream media vs individual websites).
GOOGLE TRANSLATION OF THE RULING, THE APPLICABLE SECTIONS
 It is desirable for a society that information circulate as freely as possible. However, no evidence of expertise was offered during this trial concerning the existence of mechanisms guaranteeing on the web real and valid information when it comes from “citizens”. The Tribunal concludes that these mechanisms are still in the niche of professional journalism.
 The decision of the Quebec Press Council in its decision produced by Magnan himself, in respect of a complaint, made by an individual against a ticket published by a columnist in a magazine, is an obvious example of how these mechanisms work (DPM-86). No such thing protects Awada against Magnan’s publications. Only the protection afforded by the courts remains.
 One thing is certain. Our democracies are based on, among other things, a free and quality press. Sites that swarm with the control mechanisms of this quality may spread false news, unfounded and unverified theories. The dissemination of false information is as dangerous as the muzzling of the press for our democracies. A good example of this prejudice lies in the factual framework of this case.