12 July 2012

The latest bit of drama #nlpoli

For the record, your humble e-scribbler will refrain from making any comment on the substance of the statements of claim filed by Danny Williams and Alderon against the Sierra Club and Bruno Marcocchio on the one hand and Brad Cabana on the other.

CBC has posted pdf versions of both, linked below:

In general, your humble e-scribbler would humbly suggest that SRBP readers keep the following observations in mind.

As a rule, lots of people should be a lot more careful about what they say publicly. 

That said, a letter from a lawyer is no reason to retract, apologise or withdraw anything automatically.  Some public figures  - Conrad Black, in his pre-convict days may be one example - come with a reputation for being notoriously thin-skinned,  financially well-off and litigious. 

Just because they can afford a lawyer doesn’t mean that they are right.

Counter-suits can be fun. Sometimes the party making the claim can defame the other party by alleging motives for which their is no reasonable basis. 

Sometimes we all make a comment that, with the benefit of hindsight, ought to be retracted.  it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Defamation is defamation, regardless of where it occurs. Slander is spoken.  Libel is printed.  Either way, these statements alleged that both occurred.

The Defamation Act, RSN 1990, merely establishes that you can sue someone for defamation in this province. The state of the law in Canada is another matter. You can find plenty of useful summaries online.

One of the most interesting recent Canadian defamation cases involved radio talk-show host Rafe Mair. Eventually, the case wound up in front of the Supremes.  Take some time and read the decision if you want an education in the current world of free speech in Canada.  You might be surprised at what you find.

If you want an example of a defamation suit from pre-Confederation Newfoundland, look no further than former Lieutenant Governor Edward Roberts’ account of the suit brought against Peter Cashin during the National Convention.

Danny Williams may be talking tough on Wednesday but that may not mean much.  He talked tough in Henley v. Cable Atlantic and got his ass kicked by not one but two courts. And no one should forget Williams’ comments after Ruelokke v. Newfoundland and Labrador. Neither of those is a defamation case, but the general pattern might turn out to be appropriate.

If Cabana and the Sierra Club don’t have local lawyers, they might find a few around town willing to take this on just for the fun of it.  The discovery alone could be a goldmine of new information.