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PostSubject: Cool: U of O student sues Carleton student for defamation   Cool: U of O student sues Carleton student for defamation Icon_minitimeSat Mar 09, 2019 11:32 pm

A University of Ottawa (U of O) student is pressing charges against a Carleton graduate student for alleged defamation, stating the latter incorrectly painted him as a member of the “alt-right.”
Michele Di Franco, a U of O master’s student and the vice-president of U of O’s Students for Free Speech, is pursuing a lawsuit against Carleton PhD student Michael Bueckert. Di Franco is suing Bueckert for $150,000 in damages.

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According to a statement of claim issued by Di Franco’s lawyers on Feb. 27, the allegedly defamatory statements were made by Bueckert against Di Franco as part of a larger criticism of the Student Choice Initiative recently introduced by the Ontario government.
The statement of claim said Di Franco met with Premier Doug Ford for a free speech roundtable in August 2018, along with members of other university free speech organizations. A group photo was taken during this meeting which included both Ford and Di Franco.
On Feb. 22, Bueckert tweeted a photo of Ford and Di Franco, criticizing the Ford government for meeting with “alt-right” students, of which Bueckert said Di Franco is a part of.
Di Franco alleges these tweets made by Bueckert are defamatory, stating Bueckert “falsely and maliciously” painted Di Franco as part of an organization Bueckert described as “white supremacist” and as a member of the “alt-right,” according to the statement of claim issued by Di Franco.
Bueckert also appeared in a podcast interview on Jan. 21 and wrote a Medium blog post on Jan. 18, in which Di Franco’s lawyers alleged that he made defamatory statements of a similar nature.
Di Franco’s lawsuit comes after his lawyers previously sent Bueckert a cease-and-desist letter on Feb. 19 in which they demanded Bueckert retract his statements and pay $2,000 to cover Di Franco’s legal fees.
“I’m at a loss at how it is ‘defamation’ to imply that somebody might be ‘alt-right’ when they freely associate with ‘alt-right’ and extremist figures,” Bueckert posted on his Twitter account after he receieved Di Franco’s letter.
Bueckert’s lawyers then sent a response to Di Franco’s cease-and-desist letter on Feb. 22, in which it said Bueckert would retract his comments if Di Franco issued a statement denouncing “alt-right” ideologies as discriminatory.
Bueckert said he would only retract his comments if Di Franco “unequivocally” denounced prominent “far-right” members such as Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulus, and U of O “anti-feminist” professor Janice Fiamengo—all of whom Bueckert alleges Di Franco had previously “endorsed.”
Di Franco declined Bueckert’s conditions for retraction, and instead went ahead with a legal case against him, seeking damages of $100,000 in alleged defamation and $50,000 for alleged “punitive and aggravated damages.”
Bueckert told the Charlatan he “stands behind” what he said.
“I see it as a reasonable analysis of the situation based on the evidence available,” Bueckert said. “So, no, I do not believe it is defamatory.”
“I think it is understandable if Di Franco is embarrassed by his own association with extremists like McInnes, but it is not my fault for pointing that out.”
Bueckert has started a GoFundMe campaign for his legal fees. He has raised over $16,000 of his $20,000 goal, as of the time of this publication.
“It’s a pretty distressing situation,” he said. “It seems clear to me that this lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate critics into silence.”
“I think that is why I am seeing so much support from the community in terms of fundraising for legal fees because other people see this for what it is, which is a attempt to shut down critical speech.“
The Charlatan reached out to Di Franco and his lawyers, but they declined to comment.
“My client does not wish to litigate this matter through the media,” Di Franco’s lawyer J.F. Lalonde said in an email. “Mr. Di Franco does not have anything to add at this time.”
As of the publication of this article, a court date has not yet been set.

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