Chilling statement

Libel lawsuit against Yahoo Canada dismissed

An Ontario Superior Court justice dismissed a $30-million defamation lawsuit against Yahoo Canada and Elizabeth Di Filippo, an editor at the publication. 

Joseph Volpe, publisher of Corriere Canadese, an Italian-language newspaper based in Toronto, and M.T.E.C. Consultants, which owns the newspaper, filed an initial statement of claim on March 5, 2021 and an additional claim on April 12, 2021. 

The lawsuit alleged that Yahoo defamed Volpe in a Jan. 12 2021 article about the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s decision to remove a link on its website to community support organization LGBT YouthLine, which Volpe had described as a “smut site.” 

In addition to Di Filippo and Yahoo Canada, the lawsuit also named Toronto city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Paul Ainslie, four Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees and the publishers of BlogTO and Now Magazine, which also published articles about the incident. 

The publishers of BlogTO and Now Magazine both retracted their articles and posted apologies to Volpe in June 2021 and Jan. 2022, respectively. 

In a ruling on May 26, 2022, Ontario Superior Court Justice Glustein agreed with the remaining defendants, including Yahoo and Di Filippo, that Volpe’s lawsuit should be dismissed as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP. 

In the decision, Glustein noted that Yahoo and Di Filippo  “reported on a matter of public interest, and were diligent in trying to verify the allegation.” 

Glustein added that “There is a strong public interest in ensuring that the Yahoo Defendants are free to report on an ongoing public debate over the resources that are made available to LGBTQ2S+ students through the TCDSB.”

In July 2022, Glustein ordered Volpe and M.T.E.C. Consultants to pay Yahoo’s indemnity costs of $60,011.63.