British Columbia

Top court dismisses libel suit against B.C. radio personality

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a libel ruling against one of B.C.'s most outspoken radio show hosts.

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a libel ruling against one of B.C.'s most outspoken radio show hosts.

Rafe Mair, a former host with CKNW, was sued for a remark he made about Christian values advocate Kari Simpson in 1999 during an on-air editorial.

But on Friday the Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit.

"I'm just absolutely delighted," said Mair on Friday morning. "This case really is a landmark case on the whole quest for free speech."

In 1999 Simpson had campaigned against schools in Surrey keeping books in their libraries depicting gay couples.

Simpson spoke at a public rally against the books. After hearing a recording of that rally, Mair delivered an editorial calling Simpson a bigot.

Simpson sued for libel soon after and lost, but the B.C. Court of Appeal later ruled in Simpson's favour.

But on Friday the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ruling saying Mair's remarks contained no evidence of malice and were fair comment.

Mair told CBC News the decision means he's been vindicated.

"I said many times after the trial that if what I did was libel, there is very little free speech left for anybody in the media. There's little enough as it is, without having that," said Mair.

The former radio host, and one-time Social Credit cabinet minister, said he feels badly for Simpson, who as a private citizen, should not have had to wait nearly nine years for the courts to decide her case.

Mair, a former cabinet minister, no longer works for CKNW, but is a regular guest on the political panel of CBC's Vancouver morning show, The Early Edition.

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