Premier Danielle Smith published a statement yesterday accusing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and journalists in its employ of publishing “a defamatory article” with the intent “to smear the reputations of the Premier, her office staff, Alberta Crown prosecutors and the Alberta Public Service.”
If Ms. Smith sincerely believes this to be so, there is a simple solution available to her in law: the tort of defamation.
Ms. Smith and any of the supposedly aggrieved parties she mentioned in her press release are free to sue the CBC and its reporters for defamation.
Indeed, I think she should consider doing so.
The result could potentially be quite interesting, as the defendants’ lawyers would have the opportunity to cross-examine Ms. Smith and members of her office staff under oath about the matter complained of, statements made in the broadcaster’s exclusive Jan. 19 report that staff in the Premier’s Office attempted to influence Crown prosecutors about cases related to the enforcement of public health regulations during the pandemic.
The information uncovered would clearly be of significant benefit to the Alberta public.
Now let me be clear that by saying this, I am not offering legal advice. I am not a lawyer and therefore am not qualified to do so.
Still, Alberta’s Defamation Act, a copy of which can be obtained free on line from the King’s Printer of Alberta, is quite clear in setting out how one might go about filing a such a suit, and there is no shortage of lawyers in this province qualified and willing to help.
Of course, this is unlikely because the last thing Ms. Smith wants, I am pretty sure, would be actually to be cross-examined under oath about who in her office said what to whom on this sensitive and increasingly controversial topic.
It can be observed with confidence, indeed, that the premier and her political staff were bluffing when they came up with the idea of yesterday’s press release, which represents a new level of silliness for the Alberta government, which has been outdoing itself on this score since Ms. Smith became premier.
Ms. Smith was obviously furious about the damage caused by the original CBC story, and presumably also by another one published yesterday morning that said she tried repeatedly over several months to pressure the office of Justice Minister Tyler Shandro to influence criminal mischief and other charges against an anti-vaccine preacher who took part in the Coutts border blockade a year ago.
Said the press release: “The Premier calls on the CBC to retract its outrageous story and, further, that the CBC and the Official Opposition apologize to the Premier, Premier’s Office staff, Alberta Crown prosecutors and those in the Alberta Public Service, for the damage caused to their reputations and that of Alberta’s justice system.”
This statement, in turn, baselessly suggests the CBC and the NDP Opposition were somehow working together.
The release concluded: “All communications between the Premier, her staff, the Minister of Justice and Ministry of Justice public servants have been appropriate and made through the proper channels. The CBC’s allegations and insinuations to the contrary are, once again, baseless.”
Well what better way to prove that than to go to court!
Indeed, given that the premier’s statement itself defames the CBC and its employees, who are restrained from responding by the optics of a federal Crown corporation suing a provincial politician, I imagine the CBC’s defamation lawyers, for once, would be delighted to have the opportunity to defend the corporation’s journalism in court.
As a number of readers, including Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, noticed, some of the wording of the news release mimicked the standard phrases used in lawyers’ demand letters seeking to bully journalists and members of the public into making unnecessary apologies.
“It reads like a demand email prior to a defamation lawsuit,” Dr. Bratt tweeted. “Is Smith planning on suing the CBC?”
He added shrewdly that the premier’s admission in her statement that “the Premier and her staff had several discussions with the Minister of Justice and ministry officials, requesting an explanation of what policy options were available” to declare an amnesty for people charged with pandemic-related violations, tends to confirm some of the CBC’s reporting.
While Dr. Bratt has some experience receiving demand letters, I daresay your blogger has had even more, and the CBC’s lawyers will have vastly more than me.
It is important to note, as I have been advised by legal counsel on more than one occasion, such letters don’t mean very much at all if they are not followed by a statement of claim filed with the appropriate court.
They mean even less when they are conveyed in the form of an angry government press release.
And unlike some news organizations, I doubt the CBC will have much trouble corroborating its sources’ claims.
I feel one good principle to follow in life, for a Premier or really any one is to not say things you are not prepared to follow through on. Meaningless threats just result in the person making them ending up looking weak or ridiculous.
So Smith should be careful what she says, defamation can be a two way street and the CBC and/or its reporters also now have grounds to claim their reputation is being harmed . The best defence is the truth and I doubt that Smith or her staff really wants to end up in court being examined about these matters under oath to get at the truth.
Perhaps she could get her Minister Shandro to defend her, if he still can after the Law Society is done with dealing with him. By some recent accounts he actually was a capable lawyer when he wasn’t trying to bully or intimidate people.
It seems like Smith is trying to intimidate or silence the journalists who are bringing forward things that are embarrassing for her. Whether this goes to court or not, I suspect they will not be easily intimidated or silenced. However if Smith keeps on trying to do so without success, she surely risks being the one who ends up looking silly.
Dave I had coffee with three retired lawyers, week day mornings, for 5 or 6 years, and lived next door to one for 11 years and the one thing they always reminded the group of us seniors was. “Don’t ever say anything that you can’t back up with true facts, it’s how people get themselves sued”. Yet on the blogs in the newspapers we get called every name in the book by seniors, just too stupid to understand what’s going on, believing every lie these Reformers feed them. I recently got called a communist in the Edmonton Journal, and my friends and I have been called liars, traitors, communists, left-wing nuts, closet Liberals, and socialists by our fellow seniors. As a friend called them mindless seniors, all mouth and no brains, because that’s what they are.
Someone called you a communist !?
A little bird. Yes they did and it’s not the first time I have been called that, and every time it’s been a stupid senior who has done it. The other thing I learned from lawyers was “ Don’t waste your time trying to sue them, you will never get anything out of it, these fools aren’t smart enough to have any money, or they would be trying to protect it from these reformers instead of letting them steal it.
I enjoy your comments, but your continual characterization of all seniors as stupid is annoying, as I am one. There are folks of many ages who a buying into this UCP charade of a government.
Boreal: The author of this blog is a senior, too. Nevertheless, I am prepared to tolerate Mr. Spiller’s comments about seniors like us. DJC
Well tolerate is ok but I’ll call it useless drivel which only seems to be to get attention. I’ve avoided giving this guy any attention until now. I’ve been called similar names by Millennials, so what? I give you a clue Mr. Spiller – I don’t read your posts, that’s the good thing about putting the poster’s handle at the top, I can skip over it. I didn’t even read this one and I’m commenting on it…
I’m not sure how Smith could look more weak, more ridiculous or more silly. Anyone want to give odds she’ll find a way?
and just as a side bar, her supporters are chanting, sue cbc and Notley, shades of Hillary?? and fake news…
Since we’re asking for apologies, I would like the premier of Alberta to apologize to the citizens of this province for all of the statements, retractions, clarifications, etc. since she took office. This soap opera is a dud. I want to change the channel as soon as the contract is up in May.
If this does proceed to court, Danielle Smith will have egg on her face. Albertans will be paying dearly for another lost cause lawsuit, that will not turn out so well in the premier’s favour. Danielle Smith has been known to not tell the truth, on many occasions, and that doesn’t bode too well for her. We know how Danielle Smith is. She has made claims to have Cherokee ancestry, and that’s been debunked. If Danielle Smith had Cherokee ancestry, she’d be able to prove that. Her family history involving her Ukrainian ancestry is also dubious, with the chain of events involving her great grandfather. This doesn’t make her look so good, for people who do have Cherokee ancestry, some other type of Indigenous ancestry, or Ukrainian ancestry, or relatives who are Ukrainian. At one point in her working life, Danielle Smith was a scab worker for The Calgary Herald. She published an article which glorified smoking. On the air, in her stint as a radio talk show host, she was touting some Covid-19 cures, which were unfounded. Another really big slip up, was when Danielle Smith made remarks about cancer victims, which was quite uncalled for. I don’t trust Danielle Smith at all. This isn’t a smear campaign by anyone. It’s Danielle Smith being Danielle Smith, with the inability to control herself, because her mouth goes off before her brain does, one too many times.
When you say some news organizations, I don’t think they are news organizations at all. They have no credibility. There is one that I can think of.
Danielle Smith doesn’t have to appear in court. Suppose she files a defamation suit, paid for by the govt, then states that she can’t talk about it as it’s before the court, and as DJC points out neither can the journalists. She could probably throw in the official opposition and claim they can’t talk about it either. This would drag on past the election when she would drop it. Maybe some of the technical details here aren’t completely valid, but I’m thinking who would challenge her on this? The govt and some others could certainly create a lot of smoke for Danielle to cloud the issue until we all move on.
As you know DJC, the first step in a defamation suit is to notify the potential defendant and ask them to retract & apologize. I would answer Mr. Bratt’s first question with a yes, she’s considering suing the CBC. This press release may look like a standard pre-suit letter because it is. Methinks the CBC needs to get that corroboration out there PDQ while they can.
Hi Mickey. While the CBC may indeed have corroboration, they don’t need to “get it out there” in public at all. If they have either evidence (email copies) or testimony (witness statements) they’d do better to save them for the court.
Albertans would be better off if Smith was dumb enough to actually sue. It’s the only way we’ll learn what she really did and said. She won’t, though. She has advisors who must be less inclined to shoot from the lip. They’ll stop her.
Yes, you’re right Mike. They don’t have to publish the actual emails, as much as I’d like to see that. What they posted today from the manager of the CBC Calgary newsroom is good enough for now. They have sources who appear willing to stand up for what they’re saying. As DJC said, the CBC will have more experienced lawyers than Danielle Smith for sure. I especially like the part “There is much more reporting to be done and stories in the coming days will include further information.” Hee Hee, always keep your powder dry…
The state of Alberta politics: Danielle Smith makes repeated public assertions that she’s done some things that she previously said she’d do if she was elected to office. Some Albertans cheer because those are the things they voted her in to do. CBC confirms Smith (or people she directs) have done the things she publicly said she did. Smith accuses the CBC of defamation for saying she did what she said she did, and the same Albertans who cheered when they thought she did the things she claimed are furious with the CBC for confirming she did what she said, which was what they voted her in to do. And Smith was literally elected on her record of attacking the civil service (including prosecutors) and undermining public faith in the provincial government, and now she’s accusing the CBC of attacking the people she’s been happily attacking, which was what got her voted in by the Albertans who cheered when she said she did the things CBC was confirming she did. It’s dizzying.
The absolute last thing that Danielle Smith wants to attend is an Examination for Discovery on any potential legal action. Let alone a court appearance where her and various members of her staff will be called on to give evidence.
She should just agree to an inquiry, delay naming the participants, and plan for a summer report post election. After that….make Shandro the scapegoat for all ills and send him to Coventry.
Is she trying to give her pal Pierre Poilievre a good reason to destroy the careers of 7,500 Canadians by scraping the CBC like he promised to do, if elected, for daring to point out his stupid, Reform Party Brand of politics? Of course the stupid Alberta seniors believing every lie he fed them at Spruce Meadows gave him a standing ovation for promising to do it. As my friends said if spending $1 billion on funding the CBC is too much for Poilievre to handle you can imagine what this clown will do to our public health care and education systems. It’s no different than Kenney wanting to kick out the RCMP for daring to investigate their party. Reformers try to get even when someone doesn’t support them. In true dictatorship fashion. Frankly, I trust the CBC a hell of a lot more than these phony conservatives, and as my lawyer friends would have said you can always trust what the Universities and the CBC write. They don’t dare spread lies and take a chance at losing their funding, and their jobs. I bet they were right.
They’ll never get rid of the CBC. It’s too pliant and too useful for propaganda. Aren’t a majority of the board members conservatives appointed under the Harper government?
Just a thought on your assertion that one, “can trust what the universities say”, the UofC Economics Department has trained/graduated such notables as Ms Smith and Mr. Levant, both pillars of the modern Establishment… wondering who funds this department and its denizens… Koch, perhaps?
She really doesn’t have much awareness of her performance over the past few months “…to smear the reputations of the Premier” given the fine job she has been doing for herself.
” The lady doth protest too much methinks ” Anticipated as usual by Shakespeare.She obviously doesn’t like being taken to task by the ” Fake News ” CBC, and the way she lumps in the NDP as if they were in cahoots. Lashing out as it were.Witness the UCP as a wild animal cornered in the barn… snarling,snapping at the air and the crazy eyes darting around looking menacingly for the way out.
“How dare they ” she mutters under her breath. How dare they indeed Danielle. This is all your own doing, this is the result of your own over reach , your own hubris.What you need to do, if you have a shred of decency is to call a general election, not in the spring and certainly not next year, right now. Quit governing by ” Fiat “.
I love how Ezra Levant, lawyer, is so proud of the advice he gave her to go forth and perpetrate this judicial interference on behalf of noted bigot Arthur “Lake of Fire” Pawlowski. She’s been swimming in the Rebel’s right-wing media cesspit so long she didn’t recognize the floaters he sent her way for what they were.
Ezra Levant is not a lawyer. He hasn’t been for many years now.
Correct. The Alberta Law Society accepted a request from Mr. Levant to resign in March 2016. DJC
At the time of his resignation from the Law Societies of Alberta and Upper Canada Ontario) Ezra Levant declared that he had only practised law (really) for a total of eleven months. I guess the Societies were pleased to let him go.
Yes, but that’s just semantics isn’t it? Ezra graduated from UofC with a degree in Law, no? If he’s no longer a lawyer I guess he can’t dispense legal advice, but he should know what’s good advice vs bad advice, which I thought was the point.
But maybe that’s his angle. “You got yourself in hot water from my advice? Well I’m not a lawyer so pay attention next time.”
I find it really funny how Smith is claiming the CBC and NDP are undermining her image. Given her ramblings, clarifications, and explanations about clarifications for just about everything spewing from her mouth, I don’t need the CBC or NDP casting dispersions about Smith, the results of her own doing make her image quite clear.
I think she will file. Filing means the matter is before the courts and she can say she cannot comment on it, and the case will only appear before a judge long after the next election. This will allow her to conjoin & smear the CBC and NDP through the election cycle while piously refusing to comment.
She already is looking very, very silly.
Given her inexperience in governing, and her tendency to blurt out anything, without thought, in order to appeal to the audience that she is addressing at the moment this is bound to get more interesting.
No doubt the UCP will attempt to pivot this into some sort of conspiracy between the NDP and the CBC.
That will no doubt have a great deal of appeal and support from her
conspiracy leaning UCP supporters in the backwaters of the Province.
At this point, I have to wonder how many nurses, teachers, professors, AB public servants, EMS, doctors, or any Albertan with half a brain will vote UCP, or bother to vote at all, when the election happens. I also wonder how many in that group voted for Kenney in 2019.
Remember dear voting Albertans, this debacle is on you. You had a perfectly ethical, caring, competent and most importantly law-abiding premier in Rachel Notley, and what did you do?
Well the CBC seems to be near the top of the list for CON’s perpetual rage machine targets ( slightly behind PMJT and Just Transition, probably in front of “woke Lefties “ and unisex bathrooms), so it’s no surprise that Premier Danielle Smith (PDS) is happy to publicly tilt at this particular windmill. It stokes up the base and entrenches the idea that the publicly funded national broadcaster is inherently a waste of taxpayer money and is also inherently bad.
Too bad that some other media outlets don’t pursue investigative journalism on their own, but it’s unlikely that any such reporting would happen when the subject is a right-leaning politician (I’m looking at you, Postmedia)
This story about alleged interference by the Premier’s Office in the affairs of Alberta Crown Prosecutors’ Office is somewhat frustrating in that it is so far based on information from unnamed sources.
What stops the Crown Prosecutors’ Office from definitively confirming or denying it received such emails?
What goes around comes around. This rather reminds me of two instances. The first being Premier Bible Bill Aberhart trying to control the Edmonton Journal with legislation, and the second a politician south of the border – his name rhymes with rump – who sues people just to shut them up, or threatens to do so. Somebody ought to tell Delusional Danielle that neither of these efforts really had the wished for effect. History can be a great teacher if you allow it to be so.
I agree 100% with her. This is the same smear job the media and unions did on Harper also.
Well, yes I will pay for $20 orange juice, as long as I dont have SNC-Lavalin scandals every other year.
Conveniently Reason has an article that describes the issue today:
CBC, not a new organization. A media that is bought and paid for by the government is not a free press.
When the SNC Lavalin scandal is raised, I always find it humourous that the activities that led to the PMJT/Wilson-Raybould dust up, and eventual hearings over her departure, actually occurred during the tenure of the much vaunted Gwyn Morgan, he of the right wing bonafides and strong Christian bent. Mr. Morgan was Chairman of SNC Lavalin from 2007-2013, when SNC was undertaking many of the questionable activities that contributed to the passing of the Integrity Regime legislation in 2015. As Mr. Morgan and the Canadian PM of the time, a Mr. Harper if I am correct, shared ideologies and interests with the predominant print media group (mentioned in earlier DJC posts), this has never received the focus it deserved.
Go ahead, choose the scandal of your choice. The issue is the response of the cbc, not the scandal itself.
Middle Dave: sometimes ignorance is bliss, or at least more palatable….it’s alot easier to push a narrative when you only have part of the story.
And because I like to have a face/and background to any new political character that comes across the radar, I looked up Gwyn Morgan….my oh my, obviously BL hasn’t, or is avoiding the issue, and tying in Kory T, Sun media, failure to get clearance to become Fox news of the north, SH saying Canada is broken, and PP pushing the same agenda, oh wait, wasn’t he part of the program then ? SH appointing 9 conservatives to the board of CBC , at the time he was in office, should make some people think twice about ” being bought and paid for by the government “..and since PP got his post as “leader ” of the opposition, how many times was Kory on P&P ,stumping for the Con.Party…yes both sides do it, but not in balance…
Bret, the issue is not unions. The issue is whether or not Premier Danielle Smith tried to influence Crown prosecutors. Her own statements are so contradictory I doubt even she remembers what she said and did.
The issue is that unions as an interest group vote and cajole themselves excess from society for services provided. Much like other interests groups, like the media. They are now all bureaucrats and want to get paid for their loyalty. They will use their propaganda departments to keep their sinecures and smear all those who want fair governance. That is a big problem for our democracy.
Bret Larson— unions as an interest group..vote and cajole themselves excess from society for services rendered—-boy you are really on the SH / corporate bandwagon, free market, must be good for the shareholders agenda. You must have one nice cushy well paying job, to be throwing around ridiculous comments like that. My first union job, was where I got a excessive total of .32 cents above minimum wage at the time, and our benefits included the over the top one of being paid OT for anything over 8 hrs a day or 44 hrs a week, and biggest bonus was 2 weeks holiday after a year. Wow, I never realized that I was skimming off the public for services rendered, I should have been happy to work for minimum wage, right. And my second union job, for which you would have me hiding my head in shame, how could I accept making enough in wages that for the first time in my 20+ yrs in the
restaurant service industry, I had made enough in one year to almost make it to the poverty line.
Whoah, shame on me..!
Union busting is nothing new, it’s been going on for almost 200 (?)yrs , and it’s always been the owners making maximum profit on the backs of the people who make them their money. And when the unions started getting to the place where people were getting a decent wage, and were able to raise their standard of living, the corporations started the take overs ,employed lobbyists, and did everything in their power to break the unions. Because why should the workers have benefits, we can just employ “gig” workers, contractors, and so what if you have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet, not our problem, we just need to focus on making sure the shareholders get a steady increase in their dividends. Do you call that “fair governance” ??
I suppose you also call Danielle’s freeze on insurance rates until the end of 2023, FAIR?? (after the UCP took the caps off)…. but hey, see, I’m listening to Albertans.
I’m really curious about what kind of work you do, that you have such a negative attitude towards people that just want to be treated fairly by their employers. You can check any study ,that shows, that happy employees are more productive, there is less absenteeism, and help the companies bottom line, and grow their business.
The people who are denigrating the unions, are the ones who don’t want to pay their workers a fair wage, because oh right, free market. So enjoy your $20 orange juice, and no I’m not envious, if you would pay that much for a glass of it, you have no idea how the good portion of the working folks live.
Yes everyone knows a true free press is owned and operated by billionaires or large corporations, which are people, don’t you know.
Lego man Steve isnt pm anymore because Canadians prefer affable Justin Trudeau with the good hair over, cold, conniving, controlling lego man hair Steve. It has nothing to do with the CBC, as I’ve said Harper appointed more than enough board members to the CBC to ensure favourable coverage, it’s just that he’s an asshole.
Pedestrians on jungle pathways in South and Southeast Asia wear a cape on the back of their hats emblazoned with two big eyes. Big cats like tigers and jaguars are stealth hunters which naturally avoid being seen—so those two big eyes on the back of pedestrians’ hats are designed to make the stealth hunter—which prefers to jump its prey unseen from behind—hesitate long enough for the pedestrian to walk safely by. Here in Western Canada, it’s equally rare to actually see a cougar, but the protocol would be the same when encountering any predator in the wild: make yourself look big. Put your hat on a stick and raise it high over your head; spread your jacket out like bat wings; and loudly pray you don’t become prey.
This is what Danielle Smith is trying to do by including herself with the Alberta Crown Prosecutors’ Office, the Public Service, and her own staff, altogether, as victims of a “smear” she alleges was perpetrated after she was criticized for inappropriately trying to get charges related to the Coutts blockade dropped. She’s trying to make herself look big.
A similar tactic is deployed when Smith wants to make Alberta’s alleged victimization look big: simply make the bogeyman look big. JT and Jagmeet are (falsely) made out to be a single entity, and the federal NDP are (falsely) said to call the shots for the Alberta NDP. One would have hoped this kind of conjuring was abandoned by the UCP when its Inquiry into UnAlbertan-Bitumen Activities was embarrassingly shown to be an expensive, taxpayer-funded dud and ridiculed for blaming a cartoon Sasquatch instead of proving that powerful antagonists were actually conspiring against Alberta’s premiere industry, as the UCP claimed. (To break the news that no matter how hard the Inquiry commissioner tried, he could not find any evidentiary proof because no such conspiracy actually exists, minister Sonya Savage’s apologetics simply grouped those who’d been laid-off because of low market prices for bitumen together with everyone else who was struggling with Covid, into ‘all Albertans‘ who, she reasoned, were “hurting,” thereby making the alleged victims of notional federal conspiracists look like a bigger group.)
Smith’s statement is fraught with such puffery. The allegations that she said and probably did inappropriate things is not a “baseless” smear by a wholly notional alliance of Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP and the CBC. In fact, the allegations are based on the plain contradictions in Smith’s own public comments about her communication with Crown prosecutors in the Coutts matter; and there is no such alliance of what she claims are her antagonists: both are doing the jobs there’re supposed to do for the good of democracy and accountability. As of yet the CBC is standing by its reporting, and Notley criticized Smith’s plural positions on Coutts prosecutions by merely pointing out that they can’t both be true—which, if Smith knew even a modicum about democratic politics, she would know that’s it’s the express job of the Loyal Opposition to hold her to account in all public matters. But Smith wants to join them all together to make a bogeyman look big, to reinforce the Alberta-victimhood claim which rationalize her zany plans for the province.
By extension, she’s suggesting her faux pas should be absolved if she (and her unwilling ‘co-victims’) were as victimized as she claims—yet another demonstration of her political vacuity. Her proper course would have been to simply admit her mistake; had she done that, subsequent revelatory minutiae could easily be blown off as already-covered. Again: gormless, gormless, gormless.
The haphazard way Smith is getting a Brownian buffeting is very inviting to the conspiracy theorist who is naturally allergic to randomness. Perhaps “haplessness” is a better word. Anyway, its conceivable that Smith et al conspired to make this all happen, to create an opportunity to make Alberta’s alleged enemies look big for the sake of stock victimization narrative, and then make themselves look big to distract from this plan and, I suppose, to frighten predatory critics away. But I don’t give Smith much ability for pulling something that elaborate off—as inured to conspiratorial elaboration the moribund far-right is. Years as a talk-radio host has probably deluded Smith into thinking she’s channeling the popular will, but it’s hard to imagine those who want her to channel their own brand of extremism aren’t disappointed with the hash she’s making of it.
True, the situation is handy for making the JT/Jagmeet bogeyman look even bigger by disingenuously adding Notley to it, especially since the NDP is the UCP’s most dangerous rival and there’s an election scheduled for just over 17 weeks from now. And the stock victimization tactic might be more effective by making the supposed victim look bigger by including the Crown Prosecutors and Public Service in the alleged victimhood—except that nobody’s saying the prosecutors or public servants have done anything wrong—which is what Smith implies when she demands they also be apologized to for something they didn’t do. (Don’t be surprised if those two public offices clarify this point.)
Still, there’s one thing you gotta know when making yourself look big: if it’s a cougar you’re supposed to keep looking directly at it, eye-to-eye, because, as mentioned, it’s supposed to make the stealth hunter hesitant to attack (unless it’s a rabies-crazed cougar—then it wouldn’t matter how big you made yourself look) but if it’s a grizzly bear, you’re NOT supposed to look them in the eye because a grizzly will invariably take that as a challenge which, if you know anything about grizzlies, they’re quite likely to accept.
Had Smith been contrite and made herself humble and small, this whole thing would blow over and be forgotten by the time she steps into another pat of goo; but because she’s trying to make herself look big, it’s bound to hang around for a while. And, remember, if the legislated election dated is respected, the writ will be dropped in about 13 weeks—not much time to juggle all the other stuff with this millstone hanging around the UCP leader’s neck at the same time.
“. . . . some of the wording of the news release mimicked the standard phrases used in lawyers’ demand letters seeking to bully journalists and members of the public into making unnecessary apologies.”
Is this development [along with the accompanying theatrical histrionics] the apparent augur/portent of a calculated attempt to formalize a politically motivated libel chill and a deliberate “invisible hand of censorship” in the Province of Alberta?
Based on all of the publicly available information regarding Ms. Smith and her coterie of benefactors, the fulfillment of that development has the potential to be a very negative outcome indeed.
For someone who doesn’t have much use for the law — at least laws that don’t work in her favour — Danielle Smith sure likes to throw around litigious threats. And when you got Keene Bexie on your side, you have it made, right? Even Rebelmedia has joined the fight to defend the integrity of Alberta’s civil service, which is pretty rich coming from them. I suspect there will be crowdfunding campaigns attached to make sure that the fight is just and reaches its conclusion. *Cough*
All this reminds me of the days of yore, when ye ole Social Credit government in the 1930s sought to sue local dailies for defaming the SC government of the day for their assorted DUMB shenanigans. Of course, the bizzarro notions like Prosperity Certificates and other funny money schemes pale in comparison to the antics of this UCP crowd. I’m just waiting for the moment when a body turns in the Saskatchewan River and the entire UCP cabinet — all 345 of its members — bolts into hiding.
I’ve never seen Socred Dollars in the flesh. It would be a thrill.
I do have a “shin plaster,” though. An old reprobate I knew bought a horse from an “Indian” in Kamloops, paying with this shin plaster, or 25¢ bill, which, in the late 1920s would be a lot of money— if you were illiterate, trusting, and been convinced it was $25, not two bits.
Next day my acquaintance had ridden his new horse up to Barrier when the RCMP caught up with him, “Indian” in tow with the shin plaster in evidence. The horse was exchanged for the offending note and nobody went to jail.
My late acquaintance was an old man with an oxygen tank, a pocket ashtray and a flask of moonshine in his boot when last I saw him. He and his siblings were taken away from his mean old man’s log cabin in Alberta’s remote Peace Country when he was about 13, said he never saw a woman before that. He and his brothers would take turns a shooting eggs out of each other’s hands with a bent 22 rifle. Thence he discovered he could get away with more stuff in the Interior of BC, was a hunting guide there for many years, went to the war broke, came back a millionaire, a man so burdened with unrepentant guilt that he told be the most disturbing stories I’ve ever heard—confessing, I guess, but only sort of. He gave a more contemporary reprobate friend of mine the shin plaster after a serious, three-day drinking binge, said it was bad luck. I got it after my younger friend had some fatal bad luck of his own and his worldlies were left to me to deal with. I look at it once in a while. Had it for 15 years, and I’m still vertical— with a list.
But I’d sure like to have a real Alberta Socred Dollar. Heard so much about that episode. It would complete my amateur numismatic interest—just that and the shin plaster (I’m a simple guy). Every note has its tune, after all.
Scotty: If we ever have the time to sit down for a beer or even a cup of tea, remind me to tell you the story of my unlucky hat, and how the bad luck went away. DJC
“my unlucky hat”, and how “that bad luck went away”
Now those are songs worth writing!
Especially if the band that records them is called the “Sin Plasters” Thanks D! You and your posters make my day!
So blame me now! But I have submitted the following song titles for consideration. I have lyrics for all of them already! Your post was a beaut! Here’s your hit singles! “my unlucky hat” “when that bad luck went away” and my favourite? “If we ever have the time” Along with the choice of a band name? I still claim “Sin Plasters”, but since I’m holding Lyle Lovett to his word I’ll go easy on that. https://youtu.be/M687idxKkj0?t=6
The following insights as both ‘noodling’ and as an addendum might be considered as more grist for “the tort of defamation” mill, as it were and as it was and as it is relevant to the current situation . It is by no means a thorough, or comprehensive summary, but merely a teasing introduction:
III. THE RATIONALE UNDERLYING THE PUBLIC INTEREST RESPONSIBLE COMMUNICATION DEFENCE-LIBEL CHILL
The Supreme Court modified Canada’s law of defamation to give more protection to libel defendants, in recognition of the fact that the traditional defamation rules inappropriately chill free speech.
Freedom of expression guaranteed by section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is essential to the functioning of our democracy and to seeking out the truth. The core rationales for freedom of expression of democratic discourse and truth-finding squarely apply to communications on matters of public interest, even those which contain false imputations.
Productive debate is dependent on the free flow of information and “freewheeling debate on matters of public interest is to be encouraged.”
Accordingly, the Supreme Court held “[it is simply beyond debate that the limited defences available to press-related defendants may have the effect of inhibiting political discourse and debate on matters of public importance, and impeding the cut and thrust of discussion necessary to discovery of the truth.”
The Court found that the prior common law defamation rules requiring court-established certainty had a chilling effect on the publication of communications in the public interest:
Freedom does not negate responsibility. It is vital that the media act responsibly in reporting facts on matters of public concern, holding themselves to the highest journalistic standards.
But to insist on court-established certainty in reporting on matters of public interest may have the effect of preventing communication of facts which a reasonable person would accept as reliable and which are relevant and important to public debate.
The existing common law rules mean, in effect, that the publisher must be certain before publication that it can prove the statement to be true in a court of law, should a suit be filed.
Verification of the facts and reliability of the sources may lead a publisher to a reasonable certainty of their truth, but that is different from knowing that one will be able to prove their truth in a court of law, perhaps years later. This, in turn, may have a chilling effect on what is published. Information that is reliable and in the public’s interest to know may never see light of day.
The justifiability of including a defamatory statement may admit of many shades of gray. It is intimately bound up in the overall determination of responsibility…. It is for the jury to consider the need to include particular defamatory statements in determining whether the defendant acted responsibly in publishing what it did.
Notably, the Court also recognized that “the decision to include a particular statement may involve a variety of considerations and engage editorial choice, which should be granted generous scope.”
Canadian Libel Law Enters the 21st Century: The Public Interest Responsible Communication Defence, 2010 CanLIIDocs 87
And where the following opinion is both noteworthy and once again relevant to the current situation, notwithstanding the high entertainment value that the play acting provides:
[[Today, if someone tries to ruin your reputation, there are many avenues of redress. You can hold a news conference, take out an ad on radio or television, or set up an Internet web site to tell your side of the story.
These methods are cheaper than a lawyer’s fees and certainly safer than a duel.
It’s time for Canadian libel law to be brought in line with 21st century realities. A good first step would be to reverse the burden of proof in lawsuits involving public figures: the plaintiff, not the defendant, must prove the statements in question are false.
Furthermore, let’s exempt statements of personal opinion or belief, and force the plaintiff to prove that the statements were made with malicious intent.
If we don’t act, the likely result is millions of taxpayer dollars going to fund the legal bills of rich politicians who know how to dish out criticism, but can’t take it.]]
“It’s time to reform Canadian libel law” by Jeffrey Shallit
Is it necessary to add that this publicly acted out stage play should be very interesting?
Smith is certainly keeping some of us entertained, but really it isn’t a good thing. She looks silly and incompetent. Suing the CBC, right. it is doubtful Smith will do any such thing. She is just trying to “cover up” what she did.
Living on Vancouver Island I am extremely allergic to snow and freezing weather, which a friend advises me there is a lot of in winter. However, if this case were on the off chance ever to go forward, please let us know. I will make an exception to my rules in life and travel to Alberta to watch the show. OMG can’t Smith do anything properly?
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