Media giant Canwest sued activists over parody of Vancouver Sun, threatened free speech


Canwest Publishing went into bankruptcy protection in January 2010 which froze the court case over the Vancouver Sun parody. The Canwest newspapers have been bought by Post Media Networks who, so far, have not reactivated the case. We will let you know as soon as there is an update to the status of the court case.

Thanks to All who have supported Seriously Free Speech and the defendants to date.

Canwest News: End of era as Leonard Asper leaves CanWest
News Update:
Canwest: still SLAPPing people around
News Update: What to do if someone SLAPPs you

What happened

A parody of the Vancouver Sun, highlighting its pro-Israel bias, was distributed in June 2007. Six months later, Canwest launched a suit against a long-time advocate for the rights of Palestinians, even though he did nothing more than hand out a few copies at a bus stop. In July 2008, Canwest added two more names, members of the Palestine Media Collective who went public on why they did it. Read more…

The parody

There is a long and rich history of political parodies that skewer the rich and powerful. Read more…

Legal process leads to witch hunt

Canwest’s suit claims a commercial violation of trade mark, as if a political parody is the same thing as a Nike knock-off. Read more…

Who are the defendants?

Carel Moiseiwitsch and Gordon Murray produced the parody after a trip to the occupied Palestinian territories. Both Carel and Gordon have worked for indigenous rights around the world for many years. Former defendant Mordecai Briemberg is one of the hosts of Co-op Radio’s Redeye program and a founder of the Canada-Palestine Network. Mordecai has spent a life-time working for peace and justice for both Palestinians and Jews. Read more…

Who is Canwest?

If you read or watched the news in Canada, chances are that you read or watched news selected, edited, and shaped by Canwest. The largest media conglomerate in the country, Canwest owned national, metropolitan and community newspapers as well as the Global Television network. Read more…

Who are the Seriously Free Speech Committee?

The committee was formed by individuals deeply concerned about a giant media corporation using the courts in an attempt to silence opposing views. Members work to raise awareness of the dangers of media concentration, and the importance of a full and open discussion of all points of view around the contentious issues of the Middle East, and to raise funds to cover the legal costs. Read more…

Why should you care?

This is a classic SLAPP suit – a legal suit launched by the rich and powerful to silence critics and shut down public discussion. If they can bully Mordecai, Carel and Gordon, they can bully you. Read more…

15 Responses to Canwest

  1. Thank you for your articulate activism and evening of information at Rhizome last Friday. I left with heavy feet and tingling awareness. There is work to be done. Beyond sharing what I’ve learned with friends and family, I want to broadcast parts of last night’s talk on cfro’s ” Union Made” with your permission. I have a noisy table top mp3 recording, I’m wondering if there is a clear recording by “red eye” or your “sound guy” that you would be willing to copy and share.

  2. Canwest lawsuit is in concert with Harper’s

    edicts forbidding federal scientists to comment

    on issue of public policy and in this campaigne

    forbiding his candidates to speak on issue per-

    taining to the national campaigne.These are all

    serious assults on free speech and democratic

    life in this country.One wonders about the table

    talk when Asper and Harper meet for lunch.

  3. This lawsuit is typical of Zionist CanWest. Unfortunately, all the political parties are infected by Zionists, notwithstanding a very few courageous individuals in each party.

  4. British Columbia needs to be harshly punished for allowing these disgusting SLAPP suits that threaten political freedom of speech everywhere. It’s a genuine threat to human rights especially when scumbags from Iran or China figure out they can track down their anonymous critics using right of discovery in these suits, and then threaten or torture their families.

    BC has a vibrant high tech industry which would be eradicated if these laws were generally applied and privacy of corporate and personal data invaded as part of the discovery process in these nuisance suits. Perhaps it’s time to point out to BC’s government that it will cost them a few billion dollars and the most lucrative industry they have if they don’t pass some harsh California-style anti-SLAPP laws immediately.

    The world is figuring out how stupid BC is, look at the Wayne Crookes cases, all of which were also launched from BC. For instance his lawssuits against anyone who ever linked to or talked about the critiques of his role in the Green Party of Canada that were published on it. Several of the cases have been dismissed, but not all with costs, and most of his critics eventually left the Green Party of Canada while he remains – rewarding him for these tactics. Here’s the full text of one decision and some followup discussion outlining the goals of the anti-Crookes movement.

    The issue is similar to the Canwest case as Mr. Crookes seemingly filed most of his suits when he and his associates were referred to as a “gang of Crookes”, after changing their official name (as a committee and then a leadership clique in the Green Party) several times. Some of these people referred to Crookes as “Uncle Wayne”, for instance. So evidently you can’t make fun of someone’s name or point out that they behave in a way very similar to other gangs of criminals, even as part of a parody, without being sued and dragged through court processes for years.

    The particularly chilling thing about this is that Crookes was involved in key official roles in the Green Party of Canada, and like many political insiders whose names the public does not know, was often accused of subverting the democratic processes in that Party’s own Constitution and tradition. Thanks to the lawsuits, the facts are not easy to discuss in the open, and that seems to have been the clear intent. Crookes seems not to care, for instance, that he keeps losing, he continues the remaining suits at what must be a great expense to himself. Many defendants are broke or nonprofits. So why’s he doing it? Not for damages, obviously, but for intimidation to silence. That’s the definition of a real SLAPP…

  5. Hello,

    I heard about your situation, and while I can say angered, I am far from surprised..

    I am currently a full-time student at Capilano in Global Stewardship (International Relations) and work full time in social work in the lower mainland. Along with that I recently graded film school with a certificate in Documentary Film..

    If there is anything I can do, or help with please let me know and I will try my best..

    The website i posted, is a new collective I am trying to build that focuses on alternative media, and get people talking especially those who consider themselves progressive thinkers on what can actually be done to change the current situation..

  6. In 1942 I took a streetcar on the way between Zgierz and Lodz in Poland. The Street car passed through the concentration camp, which was enclosed with a barbed wired fence. At the time I could not believe that “our” National Socialist Government could do such a thing. It seems that times have not changed that much. I feel sorry for progressive Israelis who have to witness their government imitating such a horrible example.

  7. It was the Lodz ghetto, not a concentration camp.



    “Freedom of Expression
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding document of the modern human rights movement, speaks of “freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want” as its core aspirations. Freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the UDHR. The term freedom of expression is preferred within international conceptions of human rights, as freedom of expression is not confined to verbal speech but is understood to protect any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. It therefore embraces cultural expression and the arts as much as political speech. Importantly, the exchange of opinions, ideas and information should be capable of being a public act, not something confined to private discourse, because it is in this sense that it underpins democratic freedoms such as the right to form political parties, the right to share political ideas etc. Freedom of expression is often regarded as a foundation right as its existence helps guarantee other rights and freedoms. Without freedom of expression, it would be difficult to guarantee many of the rights in the UDHR; social justice would not be obtainable; and good governance seriously hindered. “


    is an excellent summary by Rafe Mair of the implications of his winning appeal against
    a political opponent whom he called a “bigot” on the air, and who sued him for “libel”
    (a word that is wholly inapplicable to political opinions in free countries like the USA).

    “This judgment sets forth the standards for defamation to be found in areas of public interest and they are:

    (a) the comment must be on a matter of public interest;
    (b) the comment must be based on fact;
    (c) the comment, though it can include inferences of fact, must be recognizable as comment;
    (d) the comment must satisfy the following objective test: could any [person] honestly express that opinion on the proved facts?
    (e) even though the comment satisfies the objective test, the defence can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant was actuated by express malice.

    Although this falls short of the American standard (see Sullivan vs. New York Times) it goes a long way towards killing “libel chill.””

  10. I go to SFU, if other students are interested, Id be willing to co-organize a rally against Canwest and their ZIONIST BULLSHIT. Now that they are losing money hand over fist, they want out government to bail them out. Do not let these pigs continue to hide the mass murder that the Israelis have committed since 1967.

  11. Thanks for an important Website : free speech is the touchstone of democracy. The CRTC should never have allowed CanWest to achieve the degree of media concentration that it has. As I recall, Canadians were sold a bill of goods when corporations pushed ‘media convergence’ as the wave of the future. Our politicians were simply bought and, like our American neighbours to the South, we are living in the ‘best democracy that money can buy’ !

  12. OMG loved reading this article. I submitted your rss to my reader.

  13. Dear Committee:

    A funny sequence of events has just occurred and just so you know about it I share it with you:

    Kevin Bent Publisher of Canwest Global Sun and Province posted an article on the Province’s site at 3:08 about the impending sale of the newspapers and how everything will be “Business as usual” It had the ‘Comments’ feature at the bottom but nobody had yet commented. If you go to our site at you’ll see we commented on it and posted a copy of those comments in the news items posted today. It referenced your legal situation.

    The ‘Comments’ feature promptly disappeared with an exact copy of the ‘Letter from the Publisher but with a time of 5:21 not 3:08 and no comments feature available.

    The bastards yanked the comments option rather than dealing with the likes of us and our impertinent comments.

    Just thought we’d share that with you to show how sensitive this issue is for them and how low they go to suppress freedom of speech.

    Warmest regards and our hearts are with you,

    Citizen Oliver
    Christian Taxpayer Free Press

  14. CanWest Global is on its way to the ash heap of history . . . with its zio dirtbag buddies.

  15. Yep, socialism is always vile.

    Hand in glove…

Leave a Reply