June 24, 2013
In a ruling that could carry implications for comedy clubs across Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the right of a bar patron to receive five-figures in damages from a comedian whose performance she alleges gave her post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 2011, Toronto comedian Guy Earle was ordered by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to pay $15,000 to Lorna Pardy, a homosexual woman who said she suffered “lasting physical and psychological effect” after Mr. Earle directed a string of lesbian slurs at her during a 2007 Vancouver open mic night.
On Wednesday, B.C. highest court ruled against Mr. Earle’s assertion that comedy clubs should remain special places devoted to the “fearless pursuit of free speech” and that the Tribunal’s decision would have a “chilling effect on performances and artists in British Columbia.”