relating to crimes is an occasion of qualified privilege. Whether it
is an occasion of privilege is a question of law to be determined by
the judge but that assessment also requires findings of fact. In
addition, there are potential findings which must be made by the
trier of fact and which weaken the availability of this defence.
 The qualified privilege is narrowly confined and if the
communication contains defamatory language that is unnecessary to the purpose of the communication, it will be found to
have exceeded the limits of the duty to inform.10 Arguably,
sensationalizing the request for information with the headline
“purse snatching” and asserting that the suspect “stole” the
purse is not reasonably appropriate to the purpose of the communication. The assessment of whether the communication was
excessive for the purpose is intertwined with the question of
whether or not the words are defamatory in their ordinary
meaning. And that is the province of the jury. The defence
remains available but success is not sufficiently clear as to make
summary judgment appropriate.
 Public interest responsible communication as articulated
by the Supreme Court in Torstar was primarily focused on
providing protection for the media and balancing Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms values of freedom of speech with
protection of reputation and individual privacy. The court
specifically found however that the “new defence is ‘available to
anyone who publishes material of public interest in any
medium’”.11 Whether “anyone” was intended just to refer to
“new media” or to include public authorities such as the police is
unclear when that quote is read in context. For purposes of this
motion, however, I view the activity of the police in utilizing the
Crime Stoppers website as “publishing” and in my view the
publication of the notice could well be protected as it was clearly
communication on a matter of public importance and interest.
 The problem with granting summary judgment on this
question is once again the problem of proportionality and purpose. No doubt communicating the loss of the purse and seeking
identification of the plaintiff who was captured taking the purse
is a matter of public interest. Both recovering missing property
and investigating apparent crimes are objectives worthy of protection. But the new defence is specifically subject to a requirement of
reasonable conduct. The publication must be “responsible” having
10 Botiuk v. Toronto Free Press Publications Ltd.,  3 S.C.R. 3, 
S.C.J. No. 69.
11 Torstar, at para. 96.