Hamilton MPP threatens Ontario premier with libel lawsuit over Israel-Hamas remarks


Published October 19, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama

Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama is threatening to sue Ontario Premier Doug Ford if he doesn’t retract his “defamatory” comments about her in response to her controversial post on the Israel-Hamas war.

Through her lawyer Stephen Ellis, Jama demanded that Ford immediately “cease and desist” from publishing “defamatory” statements, immediately retract them and publish an “unequivocal apology” within the next seven calendar days.

Ellis on her behalf wrote a “cease and desist” letter on Oct. 17, which was hand-delivered to Ford’s north constituency office in Toronto.

Ford’s communications team didn’t immediately respond to inthehammer.com‘s request for comments.

In the letter, Ellis referenced Ford’s post on Oct. 11 on X, formerly Twitter, saying the premier had “recklessly and maliciously” accused Jama of having a “long and well-documented history of antisemitism.” Ford referred to Jama’s views and actions as “hateful.”

In his Oct. 11 X post, the premier accused Jama of “publicly supporting the rape and murder of innocent Jewish people.”

Ford called on Jama to resign and his government introduced a motion on Oct. 16 to censure her in the legislature. If passed, the motion would prevent her from speaking unless she apologizes for and removes her remarks. Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles had also asked her to retract her comments.

Jama’s comments were still pinned as the top post on her X page, including her apology clarifying her remarks and condemning Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. Jama remains a member of the Ontario NDP caucus.

Ellis, the Hamilton MPP’s lawyer, said Ford’s “defamatory publication” was viewed 1.5 million times, “liked” over 7,000 times and reposted over 2,000 times.

Ellis further said that Ford implied that Jama had a “racist” outlook against Jewish people, is “sympathetic to terrorism,” and “unfit to properly represent her constituency.”

These published remarks “have done and continue to do serious harm to Ms. Jama’s reputation,” he wrote.

In a statement today (Oct. 19), Ontario NDP Leader Stiles said Ford “made inflammatory accusations” against Jama.

“This is now a legal matter, and as such cannot comment further, though I will call out this government for repeatedly and cynically fanning the flames of division during such a painful time,” Stiles said.

The letter was posted today on X by Luke LeBrun, editor of PressProgress, an Ottawa-based non-profit journalism organization that is the news division of the Broadbent Institute.

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