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December 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – To bring our readers up-to-date, although, as we reported on October 29, Quebec Catholic priest Fr. Raymond Gravel has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, his now three-years' long, $500,000 lawsuit against LifeSiteNews is still proceeding.

Fr. Gravel's lawyer has most recently been instructed to initiate a challenge to the detailed defense document that our lawyers presented to the court a few years ago. That document is now a public document since it has been long ago presented to the court and can be seen here. (Note that all references to Campaigne Quebec Vie and specific complaints by Fr. Gravel against items published by that organization are no longer part of the case. That is because of the settlement recently agreed to between that completely separate Quebec pro-life advocacy organization and Fr. Gravel) Note 2: All the references in the defense document to the “Originating Motion” refer to the Gravel lawsuit document.)

We strongly encourage LifeSiteNews supporters to take some time to read this document. There is substantial evidence and arguments in it that we believe overwhelmingly support our innocence of any of Fr. Gravel's complaints and affirm our rights to have reported what we did about the very public actions of this prominent Quebec political, media and Church personality.

Those who have read the document have reported it to be an unusually fascinating legal summary of the historical, doctrinal, Catholic Church disciplines, political and media history related to the case. All of these aspects have been included in the document in order to address specific items in Fr. Gravel's lawsuit that mandated this information be provided to the court. 

John-Henry Westen and myself and one of our two lawyers are expected to once again travel to Joliette, Quebec (Fr Gravel's diocese) this coming February for yet another court appearance, which will be conducted entirely in French, which none of the several LifeSiteNews defendants are fluent in.

As a consequence of the fact that the case still being pursued by Fr. Gravel, even though the minor party to the lawsuit, Campaigne Quebec Vie, has settled with Fr. Gravel, we are having to incur on-going large costs to defend LifeSiteNews. As well, we are so far still required to argue our defense in a venue and location with significant disadvantages to us rather than a more neutral English or at least bilingual court location where Fr. Gravel is not viewed as a very popular local personality and where we would be able to understand all the proceedings.

Two weeks ago we received another defense bill for $16,500 from one of our lawyers, bringing our legal defense costs for this year alone up to $50,000 (not counting the many thousands we have been paying off each month on previous bills), with the total of all costs over the three years now adding up to $250,000.

This huge financial burden on LifeSiteNews has been due to the continuing complexity of the case because of the number of articles cited by Fr. Gravel and a number of changes to the lawsuit by Fr. Gravel as the case has proceeded.

We want to emphasize our constant gratitude for the consistently strong commitment to our defense and the high level of professionalism of our two lawyers, Jean-Yves Cote, our principal defense lawyer, and Jean-Pierre Belisle, our litigation expert. Both of these men have shown an intense personal commitment to this case.

Although the cost of the defense has ended up being far higher than either of these notable Quebec lawyers or anyone else could have expected, their fees have been very reasonable in light of the large amount of time and expenses that have been necessary to maintain such a complex defense. We have been impressed with these two men as they have persevered in giving their all to what has proven to be an extremely unusual and frustrating lawsuit case.

Our repeated statement to the court has been that the suit is a typical, abusive SLAPP suit by Fr. Gravel to punish LifeSiteNews and threatens Canada's freedom of the press and freedom of expression. (Wikipedia definition of SLAPP suit – “A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”)

From the very beginning, every one of many lawyers that we have consulted about the case has expressed shock that it has even been permitted to proceed, given that they have seen it to have no merit at all and to be an outrageous assault on long-accepted, fundamental Canadian constitutional freedoms.

Our lawyers have told the court on our behalf that we consider ourselves strongly obliged to continue to fight the lawsuit to prevent any precedents resulting from the case that would establish new limits on Canadian press freedoms or freedoms of expression that might end up being applied across the nation.

We have therefore continued to pursue a vigorous defense effort despite a number of shockingly unexpected negative Joliette court rulings against our extensive preliminary motion efforts.

For some time we have realized that, If the case should go to full trial, it would likely last  several days to a few weeks costing several hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. 

Essential documents:

LifeSiteNews Defense translated into English

LifeSiteNews_Défense_en_FRANÇAIS avec des liens vers tous les documents à l'appui.

Original Gravel Legal Complaint (Lawsuit) against LifeSiteNews and Campagne Quebec Vie (en francais)

See the English translation of the Gravel lawsuit with links to all supporting documents.
 

Note: the Gravel lawsuit specifically names:

LifeSiteNews.com (Canada)
John-Henry Westen
Stephen Jalsevac
Tim Waggoner (former LSN journalist)
Hilary White
Patrick Craine

and then
Campagne Quebec-Vie
Luc Gagnon (past president of CQV)
The above two are no longer part of the lawsuit since they have settled with Fr. Gravel.

Please note that, because we are a main party in this still on-going case, LifeSiteNews unfortunately has to close public commenting on the article. If you wish to comment, you may send such comments privately to [email protected]

Other publications are of course free to comment on the case as much as they wish because all the information on the case has now been submitted to the courts and is a matter of public record. The one exception is all the correspondence between the Vatican and Fr. Gravel and his bishop which our lawyers obtained from Fr. Gravel's bishop. This correspondence is unfortunately still under court-ordered seal.

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