WE Charity Sues the CBC’s “The Fifth Estate”

Law Commentary
By
Mark Bourrie
February 15, 2022
a close up on Jesse brown of Canadaland

We Charity issued a release last week saying it had filed a massive lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.


The Statement of Claim can be read here.


I have never seen such a detailed Statement of Claim during my years as a legal journalist or my time as a lawyer representing parties in defamation cases in Canada.


The Statement of Claim sets out WE’s case against the CBC program, its host and producer.
This was bound to happen somewhere. WE Charity has been kicked around by Canadian media for more than two years. A second suit, filed by Theresa Kielburger, the mother of WE’s founders against Canadaland, Jesse Brown and his employees is making its way through the court system in Toronto.


Defamation suits are often a bad idea, but there needs to be a clearing of the air here.


Interestingly, no Canadian media outlet has reported a single word on this lawsuit. It’s obvious that the Canadian media fraternity has decided to close ranks. Anyone who thinks we have a diverse, inquisitive, competitive media should see this as a case study. We don’t. The media cool kids have decided on WE. Facts are no longer important.


Meanwhile, none of the Toronto Star’s supposed competitors picked up on the incredible admission in Marco Chown Ovid’s latest Star article that his employers made a lowball bid for WE Charity’s headquarters in Toronto’s Corktown neighbourhood. The bid was turned down by WE, and the building, big enough to hold the Star’s now-tiny reporting staff, was sold to someone else. The admission of the Star’s offer for WE’s real estate is buried deep in this story, hidden among confusing (and confused) reporting on the sale of WE assets.


There was a time when a newspaper’s attempt to buy the distressed assets of a charity that was destroyed by media, including its own substandard reportage, would have been seen as scandalous. Or at least generate some curiosity from so-called competitors.