Monday, April 07, 2008

Canada's Thriving Defamation Industry

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad WallIs it becoming trendy for Canada's elected politicians to play the defamation game?

Canadian Press reports that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, following closely in the Prime Minister's guiding footsteps, is the latest to throw his hat into the nation's libel litigation sweeps:

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has advised The Canadian Press he intends to sue the national news agency for defamation for a headline it ran on a story featuring controversial comments he made on a home-movie videotape made more than 16 years ago.

The headline on the first story, published on the wire before Wall or Lukiwski had apologized, stated: "Tape with Sask premier and Tory MP has racist, sexist, homophobic comments: NDP."

"The headline of the article states directly, or by innuendo, that Premier Wall was responsible for racist, sexist and homophobic comments appearing on a videotape," reads the notice of intent to sue under Saskatchewan's Libel and Slander Act.

"Those comments were in fact made by another individual. Premier Wall was not in the room when the comments were made and first learned of those comments (Thursday)."

..."We feel we accurately portrayed the allegations made by the NDP, and that the tape was a matter of public interest," said Scott White, Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Press.

"We're a bit surprised the premier has decided to take legal action against the media for doing what it does on any given day, which is to accurately report the to and fro between political parties."

Should the scope of the nation's political debate really be decided in the courts?

Canada would be well-served if Messrs. Harper and Wall spent a bit more time answering the legitimate questions that have left the nation's voters wondering, and a lot less time with their lawyers.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto


The Canadian Press reported on April 7, 2008 that "Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he is dropping plans for a defamation lawsuit against The Canadian Press over its coverage of the release last week of an old videotape containing offensive comments."

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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