A B.C. judge says former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart can recover more than $100,000 in legal costs related to a failed defamation case launched by political rivals in the once-dominant Non-Partisan Association.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Wendy Baker says in her March 20 ruling that the defamation case against Stewart by current and former members of the NPA’s board of directors was a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”
They sued Stewart after he issued a press release in January 2021 denouncing “hate and extremism” in the NPA in response to media reports on the party’s internal turmoil over an ideological shift to the right.
Baker’s judgment says the defamation claims had “substantial merit,” but found Stewart’s statements were not malicious and were fair game because the issues were in the public interest and had been widely reported.
Baker says the NPA board members also tried to strategically and inappropriately disqualify Stewart’s lawyers from the case, increasing his legal costs.
The ruling says Stewart wanted damages, arguing the lawsuit was filed in bad faith for an improper purpose, but Baker says that awarding full costs addresses any harm the case may have caused.