The women’s stories bore striking similarities: Both had troubled upbringings and were teenagers when they joined the Heritage Front, Canada’s far-right, white nationalist group, now defunct. Both were used to soften the image of the male-dominated movement, providing the voice for its racist telephone hotline. Both defected from the Front and both went on to speak publicly about the dangers of extremism and anti-Semitism. One converted to Judaism, the other married a Jewish man. For a time, they were friends. After all, they had a lot in common.
But later in life, Elisa Hategan sued Elizabeth Moore, alleging Moore had appropriated aspects of Hategan’s life and identity for Moore’s benefit and financial gain – aided by Bernie Farber, the former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress, and a defendant in this case.Hategan claimed that Moore “lifted facts, storylines and key pieces of Hategan’s life story and falsely passed them off as her own ‘lived experience’ for commercial profit and to the detriment of Ms. Hategan,” according to a Feb. 3 ruling that dismissed Hategan’s case.
Among the issues in this drama of two former white supremacists who later saw the light is: On Sept. 19, 2017, Farber appeared on the TVO television program The Agenda along with Moore. Farber described Moore and Hategan as “heroes” for “how they were able to take themselves out, how they were able to work the system, to basically shut down the Heritage Front.”
Farber and Moore would go on to appear together at several events devoted to combating racism.Typical of the blunt language in the summary judgment from the Ontario Court of Justice, Hategan’s case was “based on these facts and little, if anything else capable of constituting factual evidence.”
Hategan sought $100,000 for “injurious falsehood, civil conspiracy, wrongful appropriation of personality, unlawful interference with economic interests and negligence,” as well as $50,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages.
Justice Jane Ferguson’s unvarnished 27-page ruling dismissed Hategan’s lawsuit as “frivolous and vexatious,” a “waste of the time and resources of the courts,” and said there was “no evidence” to support a claim for misappropriation of personality.
To address Hategan’s “egregious conduct,” Ferguson awarded Moore a total of $200,000 in damages in a counterclaim.And because there is “a strong likelihood” that Hategan “will continue to publish defamatory communications about Moore after judgment,” and quoting Hategan’s own words – “What people don’t realize: I have nothing left to lose. No assets to lose in libel case, nothing to stop me from telling the truth. So I will” – Ferguson slapped Hategan with a permanent injunction against publishing about Moore in the future.
The case started a few years ago, when Hategan alleged that Moore had profited from a 1998 CBC telefilm, “White Lies,” about a young woman who joins a far-right movement, spies on the group, and ultimately defects.
Hategan argued the film mirrored her experience, which included helping to bring down the Heritage Front, and that Moore had falsely represented that the story was about her.
But that legal attack lapsed under limitations laws, and it was not part of the court judgment.
Ferguson did note that Hategan took issue with Moore calling herself a “prominent female spokesperson” of the Heritage Front, alleging this “amounts to an appropriation of her life story.”
This left Moore “in the bizarre position of having to prove that she was once a neo-Nazi in order to gain credibility.”
Hategan did not respond to The CJN’s request for comment and whether she would appeal the judgment.
Moore told The CJN she is “grateful for receiving such a strong judgment and I’m relieved that I can finally put this behind me.”
Farber called the case “simply outrageous.”