Regulators, by their public nature, have to be prepared to accept criticism; even unfair criticism. Indeed, Courts have the power to prevent regulatory authorities from trying to limit some forms of public discourse: Ontario College of Teachers v Bouragba, 2019 ONCA 1028, http://canlii.ca/t/j49mq. However, at some point, regulators can take legal action against defamatory statements or abusive conduct.
In The College of Pharmacists v Jorgenson, 2020 MBQB 88, http://canlii.ca/t/j897w a pharmacist believed that the action, or inaction, of the College had led to the death of indigenous people in the northern part of Manitoba. He made a complaint to his regulator. He then made a number of public statements claiming that the regulator had covered up the misconduct in part because of racist attitudes and racial profiling. He also communicated persistently with representatives of the regulator, particularly staff, such that they “expressed concerns about their safety, Mr. Jorgenson’s erratic conduct, and the anxiety and stress that they experienced”.
The Court found that the statements were defamatory and made without justification. The Court also held that the conduct towards regulatory representatives constituted legal nuisance. The Court awarded judgment in the amount of $150,000 plus legal costs and granted a detailed injunction protecting the staff and other representatives of the regulator from future contact or communications from the practitioner.
Regulators have recourse for practitioners who cross the line from criticism, even unfair criticism, to defamation and nuisance.