established if the plaintiff can prove three things. First, the words
must be defamatory, in the sense that they would tend to lower the
plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person. Generally,
words suggesting a person is guilty of a criminal act will easily
meet this test. Second, it must be shown that the defamatory
words referred to the plaintiff. Here that is clear. Third, the
defamatory words must have been “published”. This means that
they were communicated to at least one person other than the
plaintiff. Publication on a website would easily meet this test.3
 Under Canadian law, if these elements are established
then the libel is complete. This means the words are presumed to
be untrue and the plaintiff is presumed to have suffered damage.
In this sense it is a tort of strict liability. In this regard, Canadian
libel law is different from the law of slander and different from
libel law in the United States. While recognizing that these presumptions have been the subject of criticism, the Supreme Court
reaffirmed this statement of the law in the Torstar decision.4
What is significant is that the plaintiff need not prove the statements are false nor that she sustained damage. If the elements of
the tort are established, the onus then shifts to the defendants to
advance a defence in order to escape liability.
 There are eight recognized defences in defamation
actions.5 They are as follows:
(a) Truth or “Justification”. The defendant may prove that the
words published were justified because they are factually
accurate and substantially true.
(b) Absolute Privilege. Anything said or written in Parliament, in
court or in a complaint to a regulatory body cannot be
defamatory because it is cloaked with immunity.
(c) Statutory Privilege. Section 3 of the Libel and Slander Act
protects broadcasts or publication of fair and accurate reports
of certain public meetings and proceedings. Such reports are
protected unless the publication is made with malice and
provided the statutory conditions are met.
3 See Crookes v. Newton,  3 S.C.R. 269,  S.C.J. No. 47, 2011 SCC 47.
4 See Grant v. Torstar, supra, at para. 28.
5 See Peter A. Downard, Libel, 2nd ed. (Markham, Ont.: LexisNexis, 2010),
pp. 4–7. See, also, Allen M. Linden and Bruce Feldthusen, Canadian Tort
Law, 10th ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2015), pp. 616–846.