Former UCP candidate who resigned over controversial messages wins restraining order against source
Judge labels source ‘untrustworthy,’ with motives based on ‘jealousy and spite’
Update: On June 1, 2023, Justice Robert A. Graesser released a decision in which Karim Jivraj was fined $10,000 for contempt of court. Jivraj has filed a notice of appeal in relation to that ruling. On March 21, 2023, Jivraj also filed a notice of appeal of Graesser's decision to grant Caylan Ford a permanent restraining order. Neither appeal has been heard by the Court of Appeal.
A former United Conservative Party candidate who resigned after controversial messages she sent came to light has won a permanent restraining order against the man who distributed those messages to the media.
"Ultimately, I am satisfied on the evidence that [Karim] Jivraj embarked on a campaign to cause emotional and financial harm to [Caylan] Ford by damaging her reputation," according to a February 2023 memorandum of decision, written by Justice Robert A. Graesser.
Ford stepped down as a candidate the month before the April 2019 Alberta provincial election after excerpts of her private Facebook messages were made public.
Those messages led Ford to be "branded as a white supremacist and a racist," Graesser wrote.
The messages had been part of private social media conversations Ford had with Jivraj, whom she had met at a Progressive Conservative party in 2017. The two later cultivated a friendship, but that relationship eventually deteriorated.
During Ford's 2019 campaign, Jivraj leaked some of his social media messages with Ford to the Broadbent Institute's progressive news organization Press Progress, which first reported the story. Jivraj also leaked the messages to other media outlets, including the CBC.
Jivraj was an unnamed source of those messages in the CBC's stories.
Ford resigned as a candidate in March 2019.
She subsequently launched a more than $7-million defamation lawsuit in September 2020. The defendants in that lawsuit include Jivraj, the Broadbent Institute, the NDP, the Toronto Star, the CBC and others. That litigation continues.
Meanwhile, Ford also took separate legal action against Jivraj, seeking a permanent restraining order against him.
According to the decision, Ford claimed that Jivraj had defamed and harassed her, caused her severe emotional anxiety and financial loss, and would continue to do so if not restrained by a court order.
Jivraj denied making defamatory statements about Ford and denied that he had intended any emotional harm, according to the decision.
In his decision, Graesser wrote that he wouldn't comment on the other case before the courts involving allegations of defamation. He wrote that deciding whether Ford was defamed wasn't his task and that the defamation issues "will be thoroughly canvassed in the defamation lawsuit."
Much of the case over the restraining order came down to the manner in which Jivraj leaked excerpts of messages exchanged between him and Ford to Press Progress, Graesser wrote.
Graesser concluded that Jivraj's actions were "not motivated by public interest."
"Rather, these were all malicious attempts by Mr. Jivraj to harm Ms. Ford on a number of levels," he wrote.
"Having failed to prevent her nomination, he was determined to make sure Ms. Ford could not be elected," Graesser wrote. "He was also intent on doing as much damage to her reputation as he could. He was also intent on harming her financially."
Graesser wrote that Jivraj was "untrustworthy" and that he was satisfied with the evidence that Jivraj had embarked on a campaign to cause emotional and financial harm to Ford by damaging her reputation.
"[His] motives were based on jealousy and spite. His wish to harm Ms. Ford had nothing to do with the politics other than to destroy the political aspirations of a former friend who was finding success in contrast to Mr. Jivraj's own failures."
CBC would not comment on the judge's decision as Ford's defamation lawsuit is still before the courts