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Surrey book battle lives on

The fight between a Vancouver broadcaster and family values activist Kari Simpson is moving to Ottawa for a third round.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Feb 1 that it will hear Rafe Mair’s challenge of a BC Court of Appeal ruling that he defamed Simpson eight years ago.

The alleged incident took place during an Oct 25, 1999 editorial broadcast on Vancouver radio station CKNW.

Simpson sued Mair and then-station owners WIC Radio Ltd, after the station aired Mair’s comments about Simpson’s alleged conduct during the contentious battle to add three gay-friendly books to Surrey classrooms. Mair was hosting an open-line show at the time.

The fiery broadcaster won the first round of the case in June 2004, when BC Supreme Court justice Marvyn Koenigsberg ruled Mair’s comments about Simpson, while “sensational and inflammatory,” were fair comment.

But when the case went to the BC Court of Appeal in June 2006, the court ruled there was no “evidentiary foundation” to support some of Mair’s remarks, and quashed the fair comment defence.

In applying late last year to have the Supreme Court review the matter, Mair argued that the Court of Appeal “misapplied the principles governing the distinction between comments and statements of fact” by treating his rhetorical remarks as factual claims.

A date has not yet been set for the Supreme Court of Canada to hear the case.