Court Orders Environment Minister to Unblock Rebel News Founder on X


A verdict from Justice Russel Zinn of the Federal Court has commanded Steven Guilbeault, Environment Minister, to unblock Ezra Levant, Founder of Rebel News, on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The judge’s order serves as a conclusion to a two-year legal tussle that Levant instigated, alleging that the Liberal Minister was infringing upon his constitutional rights by blocking him.

Levant stated that the act of blocking his access to Guilbeault’s posts on the platform curtailed his ability to participate in public debates surrounding policy matters. The terms of resolution for this protracted dispute were according to a consented order penned by lawyers involved, delivered to Justice Zinn on September 7.

The ruling parties’ agreement stipulates that whilst Guilbeault and the federal government neither accept nor corroborate any liability concerning the allegations posited in the application, Guilbeault is mandated to ensure Levant’s immediate and perpetual access to his X account, as long as he remains active in Parliament.

In addition to this, the court has instructed the government to contribute $20,000 towards Rebel’s legal expenses. The primary point of contention in this case was whether or not Guilbeault’s X account was to be classified as a personal or an official government account.

In support of this, Tracey Headley, an official of the Treasury Board Secretariat, submitted an affidavit asserting that Service Canada confirmed the account in question was not an official social media account of the Government of Canada.

Levant, in his initial court application, had insisted that Guilbeault’s account had all the characteristics of an official, government-owned account, stating the contents shared therein were public. He stressed that the freedom of speech protected by the Charter also includes the right to access government information to facilitate meaningful discourse on its operations.

While serving as the Canadian Heritage Minister, Levant publicly criticized Guilbeault multiple times, labeling him derogatory terms. He further pointed out that Guilbeault chose to block him rather than employ X’s less intrusive mute function, that removes posts from a user’s timeline without having to block or unfollow the account.

In response to the verdict, Levant, reflecting the conservative perspective of Rebel News, lauded it as a win for freedom of speech. Rebel News presents itself as a champion of liberty, countering the mainstream media’s narrative.

The Ministry refused to comment on the court order, while Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa and an observer of the case, noted that the ruling does not affirm a constitutional right but indicates a shift in the legal landscape. Geist also commented on the vital role that government officials play in disseminating important public information on popular platforms, stressing the available mute function as an alternative to outright blocking.

The implications of this ruling were not immediately addressed by the Treasury Board Secretariat.


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