B'nai B'rith Canada: With malice aforethought

In 1984, while running for election to the Canadian Parliament as a
Conservative Party candidate, Winnipeg schoolteacher Luba Fedorkiw,
discovered, to her utter amazement, that B'nai B'rith Canada, a major
so-called Jewish "anti-defamation" organization, had circulated an internal
memo which accused the candidate of "Jew-baiting."

This allegation was subsequently repeated in the _Winnipeg_Sun_, and the
resulting defamation cost her the election.

Luba Fedorkiw sued B'nai B'rith Canada for libel, with the result that she
was eventually awarded $175,000 in actual damages and $225,000 in punitive
damages against the organization.

The jury found that the charges of anti-Semitism were unfounded and malicious.

Copied below is a fair summary of case Luba Fedorkiw.


B'Nai B'rith guilty of libel, jury finds | David Roberts

$400,000 awarded in damages

Winnipeg Free Press | November 26, 1987

In one of the largest defamation awards in Canadian history, a Winnipeg
jury has awarded $400,000 in damages to former Tory candidate Luba
[the emphasis has been added, and will continue being added to underscore
parts of this newspaper article].

The six-member Court of Queen's Bench civil jury deliberated for four hours
yesterday, finding the B'nai B'rith ACTED WITH MALICE when word of an
internal probe into anti-Semitic remarks attributed to Fedorkiw was leaked
to the press.

"I feel my name is cleared in Winnipeg, within the PC Party, and throughout
Canada," a jubilant Fedorkiw said after the verdict.

"I feel I have been vindicated. It's time to go on in my career as a
teacher and to move on in my personal life."

She said she planned to return to her Grade 10, 11 and 12 classes at Maples
Collegiate today.

Fedorkiw's lawyer, Norm Cuddy, said he believed the award is the largest in
Canadian history.

Fedorkiw had been seeking about $120,000 in damages over four years--the
difference between her teacher's salary and what she would have earned as a
Member of Parliament if elected.

Fedorkiw claimed she lost a chance to win the Winnipeg North seat in the
1984 federal election--and had her reputation smeared--when it became
public the B'nai B'rith League for Human Rights was looking into
allegations that she had made anti-Semitic comments.


The league's former chairman, Liberal lawyer Israel Ludwig, said in a July
10, 1984, Winnipeg Sun story that allegations about Fedorkiw's alleged
anti-Semitism were unfounded.

Fedorkiw also denied the allegations.

Ludwig said only that he was disappointed by yesterday's verdict and
expects to appeal.

Lyle Smordin, current chairman of the League for Human Rights, said he was
stunned by the verdict and the amount of damages awarded against the group.

"But this decision will do nothing to deter nor inhibit the League for
Human Rights from continuing from doing what we have done in the past in
our work for human rights," Smordin added.

In its verdict, the four-woman, two-man jury found the B'nai B'rith
MALICIOUSLY RESPONSIBLE for writing and circulating minutes of an internal
May, 1984, meeting. Those minutes alleged Fedorkiw was engaged in
"Jew-baiting" on the months leading up to the 1984 election.

During the trial, the jury considered evidence that Fedorkiw--in a battle
with Olga Fuga for the Conservative nod in Winnipeg North--had allegedly
said "a vote for Olga Fuga is a vote for the Jews."

The "Jew-baiting" allegation was later repeated in a newspaper headline,
for which the league was also held responsible.

Cuddy termed the allegations against Fedorkiw "a nasty little rumor" that
trial witnesses had said they feared might make the B'nai B'rith look like
the political instrument of the Liberal Party in Manitoba.

Ludwig was a Liberal, the jury was told, as was B'nai B'rith member and
lawyer David Matas, who brought the Fedorkiw complaint to Ludwig's

The jury's foreman, economist Darryl Miller, said the panel found malicious
intent against the B'nai B'rith and awarded Fedorkiw $175,000 in general
damages for her tarnished reputation.

It then added $225,000 in punitive damages.

Unlike a criminal trial where a verdict must be unanimous, a civil jury can
make a finding when five of the six agree. Miller said the jury had such a

"They put a sign on their lawn," Cuddy said of the verdict, referring to
testimony by Orthodox Jew Rocky Kravetsky that he had allowed a Fedorkiw
election sign on his lawn because he didn't believe the allegations against

The trial judge, Mr. Justice Daniel Kennedy, also assessed court costs
against the defendants.

The jury assessed nominal damages of $1 against Ludwig.

Cuddy refused to explain why the Winnipeg Sun was not party to the legal
action since it published the headline and the story which led to the
lawsuit. The Sun was served with a notice of intent to sue at the outset of
the proceedings.

Sun publisher Al Davies refused immediate comment, except to say the
newspaper isn't worried about being sued.

In delivering its verdict, the jury was asked by Kennedy to answer the
following four questions:

 Did Ludwig act maliciously in bringing a complaint against Fedorkiw to
the B'nai B'rith? The jury's verdict was no.

 Did the League for Human Rights of the B'nai B'rith failed to revise the
"Jew-baiting" wording of their minutes and circulate those minutes with
malicious intent? The jury's verdict was yes.

 Were Ludwig's remarks in the Sun news story defamatory? The jury's
verdict was again yes.

 Were Ludwig or the B'nai B'rith responsible for the defamatory Sun
headline, "Jew-baiting charge"? The jury decided they were...