March 16, 2022
CBC is on the hook for big bucks in what has become the costliest defamation case in Manitoba history, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
A Winnipeg judge earlier noted the Crown broadcaster failed in its duty to be fair, balanced and responsible.
“The CBC took very strong positions during the course of the trial that were not supported by the facts as I found them,” wrote Justice Herbert Rempel of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench.
Rempel ordered the network to pay $295,017 in costs addition to $1,659,403 in damages awarded earlier.
The total $1.95 million is the highest award to date in a Manitoba defamation case since 1998 when a Winnipeg jury ordered John Bucklaschuk, a former New Democrat cabinet minister, to pay $2 million for remarks against a public service manager. The Bucklaschuk verdict was struck down on appeal in 1999.
The CBC case concerned 2012 stories on Kenneth Muzik, a Winnipeg investment advisor who the previous year had won an award for Wealth Management Practice of the Year.
Rempel cited the network for slipshod journalism including one TV story that depicted a photo of Muzik with the headline “Is Your Money Safe?” and an announcer’s script that read: “Our top story tonight has to do with your hard-earned savings.”
“The CBC had an obligation to report the facts in a fair, balanced and responsible manner,” wrote Rempel. “It failed.”
The court said the effect of the coverage was to mislead viewers on “the danger posed to investors by a dishonest and unethical financial advisor like Mr. Muzik.”
“The CBC has considerable resources and a wide audience as a national broadcaster,” Rempel wrote in his original damage award last December 15.
“It also has a large footprint on the Internet through its website.