TORONTO — A $55-million lawsuit filed by former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi should be thrown out because it is without merit and an abuse of process, the broadcaster argues in court filings Wednesday.
In a motion to Ontario Superior Court, the CBC maintains Ghomeshi’s allegation of defamation and breach of confidence is frivolous or vexatious.
The CBC argues two points: Ghomeshi has no right to sue and that, in any event, he has no grounds to sue.
The broadcaster notes that Ghomeshi, 47, was a unionized employee and his only recourse is via the established grievance procedure.
“All the claims asserted by Mr. Ghomeshi in this action fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of an arbitrator appointed pursuant to the collective agreement,” the CBC says in its motion urging the court to dismiss or stay the lawsuit.
Ghomeshi, who is under criminal investigation but faces no charges, has admitted in a lengthy Facebook posting to having a proclivity for rough sex but insisted his encounters with women were consensual. He also said he had provided evidence to support his position to the CBC — in confidence.
The CBC fired the host of “Q” on Oct. 26.
In a statement on the termination, the CBC said: “Information came to our attention recently that in CBC’s judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi.”
The following day, Ghomeshi filed his statement of claim, alleging the CBC statement was defamatory.
“It implies or creates the innuendo that Mr. Ghomeshi’s termination was related to unacceptable conduct,” his claim asserts.
“Further, given its relationship with Mr. Ghomeshi as his employer, the CBC statement has created damaging speculation respecting Mr. Ghomeshi and lowered Mr. Ghomeshi’s reputation in the public.”
In its response, the broadcaster denies its statement was defamatory or could be taken that way.
It also argues there was no breach of confidence as he alleges because the information he provided was not confidential.
“In particular, the information in question was information retrieved from CBC property and to which CBC was always entitled,” its motion states.
“The termination of Mr. Ghomeshi’s employment was an authorized use of the information allegedly provided.”
A source has told The Canadian Press that the CBC property in question was an employer-issued cellphone.
The CBC has said it decided to fire Ghomeshi after seeing “graphic evidence” that he had physically injured a woman.
According to the CBC, Ghomeshi’s lawsuit was simply an attempt to win public and media support in light of a growing flurry of allegations from women claiming he had assaulted them.
Police are investigating complaints of physical or sexual assault by three women. None of the allegations has been proven.
Ghomeshi has also filed a grievance alleging wrongful dismissal that has damaged his reputation.
A source said a grievance meeting was expected next week.
There’s no date set for the CBC motion to be heard in court but the corporation is asking that a hearing be expedited.
Neither Ghomeshi nor his lawyers have commented on the CBC’s motion.