Don't Speak Your Mind In British Columbia — Even At Home

from the travesty-of-justice dept

Just a warning if you live in British Columbia: you might not want to express your opinion out loud, ever. Even if you’re at home. Jon R writes in with a somewhat horrifying story of a man in British Columbia who has been found guilty of defamation for a private conversation he was goaded into, at home, which was secretly recorded. Defamation laws (for libel and slander) were designed to stop the public presentment of false information, traditionally through some sort of media property. It certainly was never intended to be used for the random comments made privately at home.

In this case, a developer was annoyed that residents in one of the developments where he owned the water and sewage rights were complaining about the way he operated. So, he hired a private detective to pretend to be a potential homebuyer in the neighborhood. The detective knocked on the door of Jack and Judy Aasen and asked about the neighborhood. They, being friendly people, invited him in and had a nice discussion with him, pointing out that they liked the neighborhood very much, and the “only problem” was dealing with the guy who owned the utility, Brad Chapman, who was about to tear up their yard and cut back on their sewage service. The Aasens were upset that they had no choice to switch to another provider and that they had no say in stopping their lawn from being torn up. Jack jokingly referred to Chapman as “a prick” and said he “kind of makes the suggestion that he’s got the mayor in his pocket.” During this conversation with a guy they thought was just a friendly potential new neighbor, the detective was actually recording the whole thing.

Aasen and three others got charged with defamation for this, and the amazing thing is that the court agreed — specifically on the comment about the mayor being in his pocket. Even that seems pretty questionable, though, since Aasen never said the mayor was actually in the guy’s pocket, only that Chapman himself “kind of makes the suggestion” of that. To then charge the guy with defamation for that statement seems like a huge stretch. But, much more troublesome is this idea that you could go into someone’s home, misrepresenting yourself, secretly record the conversation while coaxing the people you’re talking to to say something negative about someone else… and get them found guilty of defamation for it.

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Comments on “Don't Speak Your Mind In British Columbia — Even At Home”

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Ben says:

Re: Sewer guy

He ALREADY hurt that family. The family that was taken to court, lost time from work, was found guilty of a crime, and was probably fined, or has the threat of monetary damages over their heads, was harmed. This guy needs to be punished, preferably by the courts, but failing that, by the people of the property he owns. This needs to be shouted from the hilltops, before all the voices in British Columbia are stilled.

SomeLawyer says:

Re: Wait...

This isn’t entrapment in the US, entrapment is when a police officer creates the opportunity for the defendant to commit a crime. Actually, despite the view of the author, the story sure sounds like defamation to me – even under US law – assuming the comments were not true.

No damages of course, but it’s defamation

bob says:


Only on Canada eh?
Entrapment is predominantly a criminal thing.
This was a civil matter.
Having read the CBC news article it looks like the B.C. Court of Appeal has some explaining to do. I hope the B.C. Civil Liberties Association helps make this right at the next court level.

Interesting to note that Anti SLAPP legislation was repealed by the Liberal BC gov.

Pjerky says:

I will say it loud and proud...

The actions of one Brad Chapman, as mentioned in the above article show that he is undoubtedly and unequivocally a grade A Asshole and a PRICK. You see how easy that is? I hope everyone in Mr. Brad (Prick) Chapman’s area drives by his home at all hours of the night honking and waving lit signs calling him a prick. It would be hilarious, ironic, embarrassing for him, and there would be way to many people for him to sue. It would be a losing battle.

Course, I am an American and I can get away with saying whatever I want about others as long as I pass it off as opinion and not fact. Canada doesn’t look so Utopian now does it you damn hippies?

Government Investigator says:

Re: I will say it loud and proud...

Mr. Chapman lives off the beaten path and it would be very difficult to “Drive Past His house” unless you have a boat. To find Brad Chapman’s house you have to go out to the end of tronson Rd…the VERY end and then head eith up Goldclaim Road or down to the lake. To get to his Goldclaim Road house just keep going past the big green gates.

I suggest you take a bucket of shit with you to leave him as a present….and yes, he is a globally know piece of shit…I should know, I work for the cunt!!!!

Joe Rider says:

He wasn't found libel for the "prick" part

An absolute defense against any claim of libel is the truth — meaning that if you can prove that what you are saying is true, then it clearly isn’t libel.

It’s funny that the case in and of itself acts to prove that Brad Chapman is indeed a prick — the only thing he was really found guilty of was the mayor comment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And More...

[Redirected to]
LB Chapman Construction Ltd.
Browning, Gillian
Box 1316
Vernon, BC V1T6N6

Domain name:

Administrative Contact:
LB Chapman Construction Ltd.
Browning, Gillian
Box 1316
Vernon, BC V1T6N6
250-549-2907 Fax:

Technical Contact:
Manager, Domains
5160 Yonge St., 1800
Toronto, ON M2N 6L9
+1.4166612100 Fax: +14166610700

Registrar of Record: Netfirms Inc.
Record expires on 2009-01-24.
Record created on 2008-01-24.
Database last updated on 2008-12-06 20:49:34.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is this good for business?

Sending a PI out to get people, who are your customers, to say bad things about you in private and then sueing those people.

It doesn’t strike me as a business model you want associated with your business. Who would want to do business with you in the long run? It certainly eliminates the possibility of new business and limits the possibility of keeping your old business in the long run.

Tom says:

So many levels of BS in BC

Wow, how may ways to look at this thing. I read the link to the more compleat story and I must say first, that I am still not certain if this case is civil or creminal. As for the artical above, my understanding, of US law is that ‘Liable’ is the private spreading of “False” information about the actions of someone. Slander would, as emplied, be publicly (signs, broadcast, etc) distribution of again “False” infromation. My understanding is that this case was for ‘defimation’. The is also the right to privacy in ones affairs. To me, there is no place where Privacy would be given more waight than in the privacy of ones own home.

All the explaination of the where ases and where fores, come back to one fact as I see it. There seems to have been a court ruleing on evedence and testimony by Anonamouse Sources. In the more compleat story it was said that there were only testimony in the form of a transcript of the tape conversations. This dose not afford the accused to face and examin the testimony of his accuser.

For me in the end there seems a great miscarrage of justice but I am still not sure of how this case has reached its level of discourse with so little to go on.

Anonymous Coward says:

B is for bullshit

Come on, this is cbc, msn, and a handful of blogs that reference these articles … take a closer look; can anyone find a reference number or any indication that Mr Aasen is real? Retired judge Jack and his wife Judy. It seems like the only point is to make Canada look like an unstable country on the brink of shambles, and any idiot outside of the united states can see otherwise. I’ll be the first one to say hey something’s wrong, but only as soon as I see that this really happened and a news article about Canada from a biased news source is not what I call objective. After all, how many articles were out there about Obama’s middle name, or Obama the Muslim Terrorist, etc. It’s all bullshit unless you’ve researched it yourself and posted the info for anyone else with half a brain to take 5 minutes and verify.

A is for Anon says:

Re: B is for bullshit

You are comparing a small town sewer guy to a presidentiual candidate and implying that they would get equal coverage in the mainstream media. Then you claim that lack of said coverage means the story is a stretch or is outright bogus. This does not make sense, and the “make Canada look like an unstable country ” seems out of context.

As far as troll rants go, I’ll give you a C-.
You need to give your rant a bit more thought.

Omali (user link) says:

Re: B is for bullshit

Yes, because any news story relating to anything bad in Canada is attempting to show that the country is in shambles. Apparently, being an idiot outside of the US hasn’t helped you see this at all.

And if you’re looking for a non-bias news source, good luck. Just keep sticking your head in the sand and disregarding all the bad words as fake. You’re going to get real far in your unstable country falling into shambles (lulz)

Anonymous Coward says:

We actually have a concept called “freedom of speech” down here in the US, and a court case called New York Times v. Sullivan protects everyone from slander or libel charges, unless the person claiming to be slandered can prove actual, deliberate malice as well as falsehood, a very high standard of proof to meet.

I don’t understand why B.C. feels the right not to be offended takes precedence over the right to speak your mind. What are they smoking up there?

Well, I guess it’s because they’re Canucks. Instead of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they have “peace, order, and good government.” Reminds me why I live in the US (though a dash of Canadian socialized medicine would be a good thing around here, instead of paying $1000 a month at the pharmacy.)

Due Dilligence by John Vanderleese says:

Leanard Brad Chapman

Word is slowly getting around that LB is not a good company to hire. I am a recently upgraded supervisor with LB and I can tell you this much, as an employee I have to toe the line but as a Christian I have to be honest with my convictions. We have been kicked out of nearly every long term contract we have gained recently. Sparkling hills fired us for over charging, Predator doesn’t want us back because they know Chapman does not stand behind their work.

I’m here for the money and nothing else.

Vernon BC
Chapman Contracting a.k.a Braden Contracting.

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