Fr. Gravel

First round goes to Gravel in LifeSite lawsuit

  • January 30, 2013

OTTAWA - Fr. Raymond Gravel has won a significant interim victory in his libel lawsuit against, Quebec Campagne-vie (QCV) and several journalists.

The priest of the Joliette diocese and former Bloc Quebecois MP claims he was forced out of politics by a series of defamatory articles written by the defendants.

On Jan. 11, Quebec Superior Court justice Paul Mayer rejected several motions filed by the defendants in which they sought to throw out the case for abusive use of the court, to reduce the amount of the $500,000 claim, to separate the claims against Quebec Campagne-vie, to throw out charges against some of the journalists named individually and to change the venue from Joliette to Montreal for QCV and to Ontario for other defendants. The judge also assessed costs to the defendants.

Mayer wrote he did not see any “intention to cause harm or damages to others” by Gravel. He added: “There is no evidence of undue or disproportionate impact on f reedom of expression.” Mayer al so pointed the trial judge will determine what damages, if any, will apply.

Mayer observed, “There has been a great deal of stone throwing in this case.”

“The defendants allege that the lawsuit of Abbé Gravel is a perversion of justice because he is using the court in order to settle his accounts with his political adversaries,” wrote Mayer in a 24-page decision. “They argue that the only purpose of his lawsuit is to limit their freedom of expression and that the lawsuit is a clear example of a ‘gag’ suit.”

According to law the defendants must “provide summary proof that the lawsuit of Abbé Gravel is an abuse or that it is a perversion on the purposes of justice,” he said.

Mayer also said the case should proceed as one case, not be divided into two separate cases.

The case will now go to trial with an estimated 12-13 days court time. The lawsuit has already cost LifeSite $170,000 in legal expenses. The damages sought amount to LifeSite’s yearly budget.

Mayer noted the defendants claimed Gravel “constantly provoked public debates on subjects such as same-sex marriage, abortion, the Latin Mass, his support for Mr. Morgentaler when he was appointed to the Order of Canada, as well as the decriminalization of euthanasia.”

Gravel claims the series of reports by LifeSite and QCV hurt not only his professional reputation as a politician and Catholic priest, but also his honour and dignity and private life. The priest, who served as MP from 2006 to 2008, has argued the articles, followed by readers’ letters to the apostolic nuncio and the Vatican, prompted the Vatican to issue a 2008 ultimatum forcing him to leave politics. Gravel’s lawsuit also contends LifeSite’s articles led to the Vatican asking his bishop to dismiss him last year as a diocesan Bible teacher.

The lawsuit cites 29 articles it claims harmed Gravel’s reputation by describing him variously as “pro-abortion,” “pro-homosexual marriage” or as a “renegade priest” who has made “heretical and anti-life statements.” Gravel contends in the lawsuit he has “always been faithful to the teachings of the magisterium of the Church.”



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