A lawyer who represented “Freedom Convoy” organizers during the public inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act is being sued for defamation by a Toronto consultant he suggested carried a Nazi flag to the protests in Ottawa on Jan. 29.
Brian Fox and government relations firm Enterprise Canada filed a statement of claim against Calgary lawyer Brendan Miller on Wednesday, calling the allegation “malicious” and “character assassination without foundation and without regard for the impact of his words.”
The lawsuit alleges Miller falsely suggested Fox condoned hate associated with the Nazi flag and had engaged in a conspiracy with the Liberal government to discredit the protesters.
During the Public Order Emergency Commission, Miller suggested to witness David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, that Fox was the person photographed carrying a flag with a swastika.
Vigneault denied any knowledge of the claim.
Miller’s allegations at the hearing echoed a conspiracy theory circulating among convoy supporters on social media, based on partially obscured images of a man carrying the flag.
The claim drew an immediate response from Enterprise Canada, a Toronto-based firm where Fox serves as a communications and crisis response consultant.
The company called the allegation “absurd” and “despicable” and said Fox wasn’t even in Ottawa at the time. Further, the firm said Fox was a Conservative and had supported Pierre Poilievre in the leadership race.
In the statement of claim, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Fox and Enterprise allege: “These assertions are patently false. Mr. Fox has not been in Ottawa since 2019 when he attended the Manning conservative action conference. Neither Enterprise nor Mr. Fox were in any way involved, either for or against, the Freedom Convoy protests.”
The defamation action seeks a total of $2 million in damages against Miller and demands he publicly retract and apologize for the allegations.
None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court and Miller has not yet filed a defence against them. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Miller had also filed an application at the hearing to call Fox as a witness, saying there was evidence, “the flags, and purported protestors using them, were not protestors with the convoy at all, but provocateurs.”
The application was supported by an affidavit from protester Shawn Folkes, who claimed he had spoken to the man holding a Nazi flag on Jan. 29.
“I went onto the website for Enterprise Canada and found Brian Fox’s profile thereon, including a photo of him,” Folkes said in the affidavit.
“I can confirm that Brian Fox is the man I met with the Nazi Flag on January 29th.”
But the lawsuit filed by Fox and Enterprise says even Folkes questioned Miller’s charge, saying in a social media post, “I hope Miller knows what he’s doing because he’s gotta have something. How did he get this name?”
Miller also alleged that the photographer who took pictures of a man carrying a Confederate flag was the prime minister’s photographer.
In fact, the pictures were taken by longtime Parliament Hill photojournalist Dave Chan, who did work as official photographer for then-prime minister Paul Martin in 2004 and 2006.
During the inquiry, Miller was also involved in a strange incident outside the hearing room, where he appeared to have mistaken Ottawa lobbyist Greg MacEachern for Fox and invited him to testify at the hearing. He acknowledged to reporters afterward that he had made a mistake and said, “Apparently, there’s a lot of people out there that look like Mr. Fox.”
Lawyers are typically protected from defamation action for things they say in legal proceedings. However, the lawsuit claims Miller “went far beyond the role of counsel, elaborating on, repeating, justifying and amplifying the false assertions against the Plaintiffs outside the Commission hearing, to numerous media, on social media and to anyone who would listen.”
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