Following up on the post below on Stephen Harper slapping Stephane Dion et al with a libel suit relating to the Cadman affair, it looks like the Liberals won’t be apologizing any time soon.
I’m listening to the audio feed of QP, here’s a very rough transcript of the opening question and answer:
Dion: Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s going to take much more than lawsuits to stop us from getting to the truth.
So, now, is the PM willing to change his story? Is he ready to tell the truth?
Harper: Mr. Speaker, the truth is that in the past several months, as the problems of the Liberal leader and its party have mounted, they have engaged mr. Speaker in more and more extreme accusations, going to the point Mr. Speaker of publishing on their Web site last week false allegations of criminal conduct on my part.
This will prove in court to be the biggest mistake the leader of the Liberal Party has ever made.
A little later Michael Ignatieff, also threatened with the lawsuit, got in an amusing line:
I think the PM for the charming letter he sent me this morning. I was very impressed.
So, the fight is on it would seem. Shoot-out at the OK coral. I question the legal soundness of the Liberal strategy, but I like the Liberal moxie and it could play out interestingly politically, if expensively. They should send out an e-mail soon for donations to the legal defence.
It seems the Liberals are focusing pretty strongly on the tape of the interview between the reporter/author and Stephen Harper and holding it up as a confirmation by Harper that an offer regarding a life insurance policy was made.
The tape is certainly open to interpretation, and could be read either way. I guess we’ll see what a judge has to say. The Conservative defence in the Cadman affair has been pathetic, but as I said earlier while I think they’ll take a beating in the court of public opinion, a libel suit places the onus of proof on the Liberals and this is a difficult, if not impossible, case to prove in a court of law.
It will be interesting to watch though. Budget, what budget?
UPDATE: Reading the libel notice again I wonder if perhaps all of the allegedly libelous statements in the Liberal Web articles were, in actuality, quotes from questions and statements within the House of Commons? I thought only some were, but looking again it seems all might well be.
If all are quotes from the HoC, that would change the legal stakes here dramatically. As we know, you can't be sued for libel for what you say in the HoC. The libel case would then hinge on whether or not the same right the media have to report statements in the HoC under the parliamentary immunity privilege applies to political party press releases. That could raise many interesting points of discussion.
Clearly the Conservatives might well have a legal opinion the privilege does not apply, or they were betting the Liberals would back down. Could the Liberals have a legal opinion the privilege does apply, and that they're on safe ground here?
Could be why they're willing to fight here. On the truth defence against libel they're on shaky ground, but if they can invoke the parliamentary libel shield then it doesn't matter.
LEAVINGTOCATCHABUSDATE: Nice line from QP:
Liberal MP Susan Kadis told Harper: "You're on tape like Nixon."Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers