Right-wing columnist sues Ricochet for $350,000

We need your help to fight back and defend freedom of expression
Mario Jean

Ricochet is under attack. Richard Martineau, a right-wing Journal de Montréal columnist whom the Quebec Press Council found to have used “discriminatory words and expressions of prejudice” against Muslims as well as students, is suing Ricochet, contributor Marc-André Cyr and illustrator Alexandre Fatta for defamation over a satirical opinion piece that mocked his controversial ideas.

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The amount he’s asking for is astronomical: $350,000.

Earlier this year, a complaint was filed with the Quebec Press Council over the article at the heart of this lawsuit. The council dismissed the complaint in June, finding “no apparent ethical fault.”

The rise of Donald Trump has emboldened the use of lawyers and money to try and shut down critics. This bullying behaviour has no place in Canada.

Ricochet is facing the costs of a lengthy court case that could silence the outlet and bankrupt our operations before a judge can ever rule on it.

“Freedom of expression is ALSO the freedom to say what is shocking, detestable and unpopular.” – Richard Martineau, March 10, 2016

Richard Martineau is well versed in freedom of expression. In a column from March of this year, he wrote that “freedom of expression is ALSO the freedom to say what is shocking, detestable and unpopular.” His “Je suis Charlie” series includes 45 columns praising the satirical work of cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Tignous and Wolinski. When far-right British politician Paul Weston — who proudly describes himself as a racist — was invited to Montreal, Martineau campaigned against the cancellation of his conference.

For over two years, Ricochet has given a voice to those often not heard. We have published over 1,500 articles, which have been read almost three million times. Just last week we published an exclusive interview with Edward Snowden, and our Indigenous Reporting Fund is an acclaimed platform for Indigenous journalists to tell Indigenous stories.

It seems unlikely that Richard Martineau would be spending all this money and time to sue Ricochet if he did not feel threatened by our rapidly growing profile and credibility. This lawsuit is a testament to all we have accomplished.

But the costs of defending ourselves against the lawsuit are estimated to be at least $50,000. As a crowdfunded outlet, we don’t have that kind of cash lying around.

In 2014, we made a bet — that people would reach into their own pockets and fund a truly independent public interest media outlet. We won that gamble, and everything we have built over the past two years has been thanks to your small donations.

Now we need our community again. Our survival is threatened, and with it the platform so many of the communities we cover rely on to share their news and their views.

So once again, it’s up to you. We have the team to fight this and win. But we need $50,000 to do it. Any funds not required for our defence will go toward sustaining the outlet.

Please donate, or better yet become one of the many members who sustain us with monthly donations. And whether you can give or not, please share this page and help us tell our story.

We’ll fight to the end, but we can’t do it without your help.

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