Friday, March 14, 2008

Harper Lawsuit: Politics By Other Means

Ottawa's blondest blogger is quick on the uptake:

Does this sound a lot like a Prime Minister who is suing (PDF of complaint - warning, large file) Stephane Dion, personally, for libel? Or, alternately, a Prime Minister who wants everyone listening to him to think that's what he's doing...

Stephane Dion: NOT a subject of litigation.

Anyway, I thought Cadmania might have been on its last legs, but thank you Mr. Harper, you've brought it back to Life.


Anonymous said...

You always sue where the money is and where it hurts the most.

Suing Steffi, who is technically bamkrupt with lingering leadership debts, is useless.

Suing the LPC means many, many Liberals will now be pissed at Leader-Boy-Egghead for opening his big mouth outside of the HoC and committing libel and getting the Party on the hook. Steffi's stupidity in the first place and stubborness to not apologize is going to cost $Big $Bucks.

Scott Tribe said...

Nice try anon.. but a) the libel case wont be heard for years, according to law experts... and b) the fact Harper is basing his claim that the tape he's famously heard on is "incomplete" or edited - essentially accusing the author of pulling a Grewal - is a bit weak, if you ask me.

Harper's had ample opportunity to explain what he supposedly said in the rest of that interview well before his libel threats, and he's failed to do so. He has nothing there - this is just libel chill designed to try and squelch a scandal.

bigcitylib said...

Actually, Scott. I'd forgotten that bit. I'll have to dig around for Zytaruk's explanation, but he basically said that the break in the tape occured when he turned off his recorder, and turned it on again when Harper came out to his car to expand on a point.

Anonymous said...

Rule one: You can say anything in the House of Commons, but you gotta watch what you say OUTSIDE.

Gayle said...

silly little anon - if the goal of the lawsuit was financial reward, you would have a point.

Harper's goal for the past year has been to humiliate Dion in any way he can. Suing him succcessfully for libel would be one way to do that. Suing him unsuccessfully would accomplish the opposite.

RuralSandi said...

I would be an interesting experiment to go through all the MSM interviews on TV / scrums during Harper's days in opposition and during the last election - I bet there'd be a lot of material for suing Harper.

Also, Harper is supposed to have evidence that he's innocent, or so he indicated in QP yesterday. Well, if he does why doesn't he bring it out NOW and clear his name? Hmmm....sounds fishy to me.

Another thing that I find curious -why did the RCMP let it be known that Goodale was being investigated "during and election" campaign - they normally don't do that - did Harper owe Zaccardelli something and that's why he took so long to have Zaccardelli step down - when there was no other course to take? Always bothered me.

Anonymous said...
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Ti-Guy said...

You always sue where the money is and where it hurts the most.

Shut up, asshole.

Rule one: You can say anything in the House of Commons, but you gotta watch what you say OUTSIDE.

That rule is not understood by Conservatives. That's why Harper had to muzzle them all.

LarryJoe said...

You guys should actually read the complaint. The claim is against the Liberal Party as a whole and Stephane Dion is specifically cited within the claim.

It looks like a strong case to me. Harper's meaning in the tape is ambiguous and his explanations in the past weeks have been ambiguous as well. Dion's stupidity (and the stupidity of the entire Liberal party) is in making flat assertions of criminality on the basis of ambiguity.

Stupid, stubborn and self-defeating. Hmm. That would make a good epitaph for this version of the Liberal Party.

Tory@York said...

"Shut up, asshole"

Yet another witty intelligent reply from Ti-Guy.
I notice you've been posting alot more often lately. Did grade school let you out early this year?

Mark Francis said...

Dion isn't listed as a defendant in the claim.

I'm not aware of Dion or anyone stating that Harper is unambiguously guilty of something.

The LPC is correct to say that Harper did know of the bribe allegation. We all know this to be true because the CPC and others have let us know in no uncertain terms that Harper was told of the allegation by Dona Cadman in 2005.

And what did Harper do once he was told? Apparently, nothing.

The premise of the tort is silly. The media has reported and commented along the same lines. The Hansard was reported, and QP content galore has been broadcast and re-broadcast. All this was done without a peep needed from the LPC website. Arguing that his reputation has been damaged by the LPC website is legal, but ridiculous in fact.

LarryJoe said...

I'm not aware of Dion or anyone stating that Harper is unambiguously guilty of something.

That's because you didn't read the complaint. You should.

Mark Francis said...


I most certainly did read the claim.

You are most incorrect to say differently. By doing so, you are claiming that I am not a diligent person, which is defamatory. I demand an unconditional apology... yada yada yada ;)

See how easy it is to argue libel?

I haven't read anything actionable where Dion et al make an unambiguous claim of Harper violating the Criminal Code.

There is that little dig against Dion in the Claim, but Dion is saying that he believes there's a bribe, not that Harper made it, or knew of it. Dion is simply leaning on Dona Cadman's comments, which are credible and quite admissible in court. She is, after all, a Conservative candidate and wouldn't lie.

Don't get caught up in the idea that the LPC has to prove that there was a bribe. They only have to demonstrate that it was reasonable to believe that there could be. That's a Fair Comment defense.

And keep in mind that Claims are not affidavits. They are often great works of fiction and half-truths.

Ti-Guy said...

Yet another witty intelligent reply from Ti-Guy.

Thank you. I'm glad you agree that the troll who writes "Steffi" all the time is an asshole.

william drewitt esq said...

"according to the law experts" it'll take years to go to trial.

Actually, no, if a plaintiff wants to prosecute a matter with dispatch its far more difficult for a defendant to sit and do nothing.

Also, until it gets to trial, do you think the lawyers working for the Liberals are going to waive the $400-800 hourly fee, charged for every letter, affidavit, motion, disposition day ect?

Long litigation ends up being more costly that going to trial?

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes in the millions for extensive complex litigation.

so pick your poison.

I understand you're desperate to minimize the effects this litigation will have on the Libs,

but sorry, its gonna hit them very, very hard.

william drewitt esq said...

"claims are not affidavits"

No, but in this instance virtually every single allegation by Harper is not only a simple provable fact, it is part of the public record,

and in fact his lawyer (one of the best libel lawyers, if not THE best, in the country) specifically framed the issues as such.

Given that the allegations in the claim are virtually impossible to deny,

there is also a real possibility Harper may move for summary judgement.

In a summary judgement motion there has to be a triable issue.

Either the Libs did, or did not have a real factual basis for their assertions.

True, issues of credibility cannot be resolved on motion for summary judgement, but so too must a party responding to such a motion have to show some evidence which would support a reasonable cause of action.

If, as it appears, the Libs were relying completely on innuendo and baseless slurs, they could very well not even survive such a motion.

Don't put it past the best libel lawyer in the country.

Of course a full trial would likely still be necessary to assess quantum of damages, but the damage to the Liberals would certainly be done at that point.

bigcitylib said...

Whoa there, Bill, that's some heavy fake law talk.

Funny though that the big question tomorrow is who Harper is accusing of doctoring the tape on which he admits to offering "financial considerations".

william drewitt esq said...

Unlike Dion et. al,

I doubt very much that Harper's attorney would include a specific statement about the recording being cut off ect. without some pretty solid forensic evidence to back that up.

Large prestigious lawfirms who conduct serious litigation don't "bluff" with their allegations - the reason being that it wouldn't survive the first question on discovery in which the basis of that allegation was being examined.

I also note that the allegation was fairly specific, which also points to a thorough examination of that point, prior to pleading.

As for your suggestion that Harper would be somehow pointing the finger at someone regarding the tape, you obviously aren't familiar with the nature of allegations, the burden, who must prove what, so I will fill you in with a separate comment.

william drewitt esq said...

It is not Harper who has to disprove the basis of the Liberal's statements about Harper. It is the Liberals who will have to prove there was a bona fide factual foundation to their allegations.

The fact that the Liberals willingly relied on an obviously suspect source, which was ambiguous at best, and in no way substantiated their assertions, goes to the severity of their breach. It also serves to call out the Liberals by declaring that the tape was their sole source of their allegations. If they have something more, they will have to plead to it, and prove it.

However, I would assume that Harper does have more incriminating evidence regarding the source and use of the tape, which he will not baldly ALLEGE, but he will substantiate with both independent evidence and through evidence obtained through the discovery process.

For now, I look forward to seeing the Liberals' Statement of Defence in which they must specifically plead the factual basis as to why they are not libelous.

If you see a lot of vague assertions (unlike the specific facts relied upon by Harper), which I suspect will be the case,

you will know the Liberals are in very deep trouble.