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Ontario Court dismissed Terry Milewski's claim "Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan"


In September of 2020, former CBC reporter Terry Milewski  was the author of a report “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan” which was published by Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI).

The 24-page report was widely disseminated  and used by Indian media and Indian missions which projected in their writings that a Pakistani intelligence agency was involved in supporting the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and its referendum campaign in Khalistan.

Some of the false statements in the report alleged are as follows which SFJ denies;

(a) “it’s Pakistanis, not Khalistanis, who are driving the campaign” (p. 6); 2021 ONSC 7063 (CanLII)

(b) “it’s clear who’s really driving the Khalistan bus: Pakistan” (p. 19);

(c) SFJ has “undying solidarity with Pakistan” (p. 13);

(d) “extremists animated by Pakistan seek to distort history and betray the vast majority of Sikhs who live in peace and freedom” (pp. 4-5);

(e) SJF does not “speak for the Sikh community. The evidence, instead, suggests that they speak for Pakistan” (p. 17);

(f) Pakistan is SFJ’s “patron” and “sets the limits” on the campaign (p. 17);

(g) “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan” (Report title).

In the foreword to this report, Ujjal Dossanjh, former British Columbia Premier and former federal Liberal Cabinet Minister, and Shuvaloy Majumdar, MLI Program Director and Munk Senior Fellow for Foreign Policy, argue, “The Milewski report should be essential reading for any who wish to understand Pakistan’s influence in guiding the Khalistan proposition, its perversion of the Sikh faith, and its ongoing campaign of extremism and terrorism in two of the world’s important democracies.”

Following the report the SFJ filed a libel suit against Terry and MLI, claiming that the allegations of SFJ-Pakistan nexus, funding and influence of Pakistan are completely “untrue and were made by the defendants without factual or evidentiary support.” 

SFJ requested a retraction, an apology and damages which Terry Milewski rejected.

SFJ served MLI and Milewski with a Notice of Libel on October 15, 2020. On November 10, 2020, MLI and Milewski responded that they would not be removing any part of the Article and would not issue an apology. The Claim was issued on December 1, 2020 and the Statement of Defence was filed on February 18, 2021.

Ontario Court, ruled in favor of the pro-Khalistan group, SFJ as the defendants could not establish responsible communication on matters of public interest because they failed to exercise due diligence reasonably. 

On cross-examination, Milewski conceded a lack of evidence in support of key facts. Milewski conceded that he does not know whether Pakistan is involved in any way in the SFJ referendum campaign. He has no evidence to suggest SFJ is financially supported by Pakistan. He has no evidence of any organizational involvement between Pakistan and SFJ. He does not know if Pakistan is involved or has any influence in SFJ’s Referendum 2020 campaign. He agreed that SFJ has its own agency… As Milewski said on cross-examination, much of the evidence in the Report regarding Pakistan’s involvement in the Khalistan movement is from well before SFJ existed.

The judge also noted that Milewski who did not even contact the Sikhs for justice for comment before publishing the false statements making accusations of Pakistani funding of the Sikh group without any evidence.

The court decision states, The plaintiff notes that Milewski conceded that the allegation that SFJ is complicit with, or an agent of, Pakistan is a serious allegation.

On the question of whether or not inclusion of the defamatory statements was justifiable, the plaintiff says that, given the seriousness of the allegations, the lack of urgency, and the 2021 ONSC 7063 (CanLII) non-existence (or unreliability) of sources, the SFJ-Pakistan Statements required a high degree of diligence prior to publication, and that the defendants fell short of this standard.

The Judge states, “In my view, the established facts to which the defendants point, such as Pakistan’s historical involvement in the Khalistan movement, do not clearly provide factual underpinnings for the SFJ-Pakistan Statements with which the plaintiff takes issue. Using that example to illustrate the point, the fact that Pakistan has traditionally been involved in the Khalistan movement does not prove that Pakistan controls or sets limits for SFJ nor that Pakistan is driving the agenda of Referendum 2020. In other words, while there are factual matters presented in the Article which can be proved, it appears that there are other matters presented as factual for which no evidence is provided (something which Milewski conceded on cross-examination).

Again I am not deciding, and need not decide, that the defence of fair comment will definitively fail. Rather, as put by the plaintiff in its summary on this point, “it is open to a trier to conclude that the statements made about the plaintiff were uttered as statements of fact not opinion, that any statements of opinion were not based on fact, and/or that a person could not honestly hold the opinions on the proven facts. Any of these establishes a basis in the law and record on which the defence of fair comment could fail”.

In OVERALL CONCLUSION Judge W.D Black dismissed the motion by the Defendants-The Macdonald-Laurier Institute and Terry Milewski and awarded the plaintiff, “is entitled to its costs of the motion.”

In short, the court ruled that the lawsuit is a legitimate libel action brought in circumstances where the Sikhs for Justice, a non-violent organization defending Sikh self-determination, should have the right to pursue a remedy.

The Canadian court ruling in favor of the SFJ came on October 25th, 2021 just days before the groundbreaking initiative to hold the world’s first-ever referendum on the question of Khalistan. 

Over 30,000 London Sikhs turned out to vote on the opening day of the Khalistan referendum in London, prompting Indian Prime Minister Modi to leave other issues behind and raise the referendum issue SFJ-Khalistan with his British counterpart during their brief meeting at COP26.


Article Source: ALAMEENPOST