In any lawsuit, both parties have an ongoing obligation to mitigate the damages to the other party and to one's own self, making the following a very good argument:
“If the tape recording has caused any damage to the prime minister, the Liberals argue, Harper contributed to it himself by refusing to explain his own words on the tape and by refusing to explain what he alleges is missing from the tape of a conversation he had with Zytaruk on Sept. 9, 2005.”
Liberals deny doctoring Cadman tape in lawsuit defence
Juliet O'Neill , Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, July 04, 2008
OTTAWA - The Liberals say any suggestions in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lawsuit that they are involved in doctoring a tape recording in the Chuck Cadman affair are "outrageous, scandalous, politically motivated" and completely without foundation.
The federal Liberal party's statement of defence, submitted to court Friday, responds to Harper's latest legal claim for $1 million in damages for "misappropriation of personality" and for an injunction to stop the Liberals from using an "incomplete and doctored" tape of Harper talking to Cadman biographer Tom Zytaruk.
Emphasizing that Zytaruk stands by the tape as unaltered and unedited, the Liberals assert that Harper's latest claim is "fundamentally incompatible with the right to freedom of political expression" and is an attempt by the governing Conservative party to silence the official opposition on a matter of significant public interest.
If the tape recording has caused any damage to the prime minister, the Liberals argue, Harper contributed to it himself by refusing to explain his own words on the tape and by refusing to explain what he alleges is missing from the tape of a conversation he had with Zytaruk on Sept. 9, 2005.
In the tape, widely broadcast by the media and cited by Liberals as evidence that the prime minister knew of an alleged attempt to bribe Cadman, Harper is heard saying that an offer to Cadman "was only to replace financial considerations he might lose during an election."
The Liberals questioned the government for months about allegations by Cadman's widow, daughter and son-in-law that the MP told them before he died of cancer that two unidentified Conservative officials offered him a $1-million insurance policy in exchange for his vote in the House of Commons in May, 2005, a vote that could have brought down the Liberal government of Paul Martin.
Cadman, an Independent MP, allegedly refused the offer, which came to light in Zytaruk's biography earlier this year.
Cadman's wife, Dona, has since said she believed Harper when he looked her in the eyes and said he knew nothing of an insurance policy offer. And Harper and his spokesmen have repeatedly said the only offer to Cadman was for financial and other assistance to run for the Conservatives in an election if the government was defeated.
Although they have cited the tape in a fundraising appeal to supporters, the Liberals deny they have any proprietary interest in the tape, a factor considered in some "misappropriation of personality" cases.
Harper's claim is on top of a $2.5-million libel suit he launched in May, accusing the Liberals of "reckless indifference to the truth... maliciously repeating false, heinous, excessive, extreme and totally unreasonable allegations," based on a partial tape recording and an unproofed excerpt from an unpublished version of Zytaruk's book.
Harper's new claim does not directly accuse the Liberals of editing or doctoring the tape, but repeatedly says "someone" did so and accuses the Liberals of exploiting the tape to portray the prime minister "in a false light for political gain and partisan purposes."
The extra $1-million claim was filed as an amendment to the libel suit June 5, a day after B.C. Conservative MP James Moore, the government's point man on the Cadman file, held a news conference to explain expert analysis that Zytaruk's tape is incomplete and doctored.
Harper's claim said the Liberal party was "informed that the edited and doctored audiotape was incomplete, edited and not credible but consistently ignore this fact.
"The defendants have used the edited and doctored audiotape to wrongly usurp the plaintiff of his right to control his own image and to portray the plaintiff in a false light," it said.
The Liberal defence asks the court to dismiss Harper's claims with costs.
© Ottawa Citizen 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 9:07 PM