Lawyer’s defamation claim over social media backlash tossed as ‘gibberish’


A lawyer’s claim for damages against people who complained about racist and misogynist comments he made on social media has been tossed out as either procedurally flawed or outright nonsense.

In a decision dismissing the claim, Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney said Oussama Hamza ignored normal court rules despite earlier warnings from a judge about the flaws.

“This application is not properly before this court,” Heeney said in his ruling. “The applicant was cautioned as to this deficiency … yet the applicant has taken no steps to correct his error.”

The case arose in October when a junior lawyer in Toronto, Vincent Rocheleau, posted a message on LinkedIn about a project at the University of Ottawa related to women’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamza, who practices in London, Ont., responded by saying, among other things, that the project was “discriminatory toward men and other gender identities.”

He also opined that women don’t generally consider being a philosopher or historian “sexy,” and a “traditional man’s man is an extremely capable historian and philosopher, like leaders of nations.”

Hamza’s views led to a flurry of criticism in which he called one lawyer a “low self-esteem loser” and said white women had raised “murderers of Indians and Blacks.”

Rocheleau and others complained to the Law Society of Ontario, which opened an investigation. Hamza, who has refused to co-operate with investigators, court heard, instead filed his application for $200,000 in damages for defamation against the society and four others.

Heeney said Hamza’s more than 1,000 pages of materials filed in support of his application were “rambling, pseudo-intellectual attacks” on the law society and others.

They amount to racist and misogynist attacks on the defendants and the judiciary, “incomprehensible legal gibberish,” and supposedly historical references to genocide, colonization and slavery with no connection to the case, Heeney said.

“That the applicant is attempting to use this proceeding as a forum for his racist, misogynist and bizarre views is an abuse of the court’s process,” Heeney said. “These claims can fairly be described as nonsense. They are untenable at law and have no chance of success.”

As a result, Heeney tossed Hamza’s claim in its entirety without leave to amend. The lawyer could still be on the hook for the legal costs of those he sued.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press