Is a comment made by a party to a party’s communications entitled to be impugned as a matter of public interest?

Ontario, Canada

The following excerpt is from 1704604 Ontario Ltd. v. Pointes Protection Association, 2018 ONCA 685 (CanLII):

The context of a particular expression can be crucial in determining whether that expression relates to a matter of public interest. If the expression that gives rise to the lawsuit is part of a broader communication, the subject matter of the impugned expression is determined by reference to the communication as a whole: Grant v. Torstar Corp., at para. 101. There is a distinction between statements or other expressions that make a reference to something of public interest and expressions that relate to a matter of public interest. Section 137.1(3) captures only the latter. A brief incidental reference to a topic capable of relating to a matter of public interest, in the course of a lengthy exchange of communications devoted to a purely private dispute between the parties, may not be regarded as an expression relating to a matter of public interest. However, the same comment in another context may be regarded as relating to a matter of public interest.[6] The distinction lies in the answer to the question – what is the expression, when placed in its context and taken as a whole, about?

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