Monday, February 23, 2009

NDP MP Comartin looks at ways to help author Zytaruk sue Conservatives


My suggestion is that monies raised from concerned Canadians who are interested in preserving the integrity of our democracy be collected and used to defend Zytaruk against Harper’s slander and libel , and in turn would be repaid with the proceeds from the sale of a new book to be written by Zytrauk on the entire trial/ordeal.

The proceeds from the book would first go to pay off those who contributed to his legal defense and any excess would accrue to Zytrauk, 100%.

I am good for the first $1,000 and could be talked into more. What say you?

To expedite matters and to defray costs, we would retain the services of the Liberal’s former lawyer and leverage off the the fine legal work he has done to date.


NDP MP Comartin looks at ways to help author Zytaruk sue Conservatives:


NDP MP Joe Comartin says Conservatives must stop 'really ridiculous position' and false accusations against Tom Zytaruk.
By Harris MacLeod
The Hill Times

NDP MP Joe Comartin says he is looking at ways to help author Tom Zytaruk finance a lawsuit against the governing Conservatives.

Mr. Zytaruk's book Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story prompted sensational Liberal allegations last year of bribery against the Prime Minister who in turn launched an unprecedented $3.5-million defamation lawsuit against the Grits. But the Prime Minister suddenly dropped his lawsuit earlier this month and the Conservatives and Liberals agreed not to talk about the settlement.

But Mr. Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh, Ont.) said Mr. Zytaruk sent him an email last week thanking him for defending him against more recent Conservative attacks in the House of Commons and for going after Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) in Question Period after Mr. Poilievre, who is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) Parliamentary secretary, repeated the sensational allegation that Mr. Zytaruk doctored a taped interview he had with Mr. Harper in 2005 which was part of the book.

On the tape, Mr. Zytaruk and Mr. Harper, who was then leader of the opposition, can be heard responding to Mr. Zytaruk's question about an alleged $1-million insurance policy offer made to then-Independent MP Chuck Cadman, who was dying, in exchange for his crucial budget vote in the House of Commons to defeat the Liberal Paul Martin government.

Mr. Harper, Heritage Minister James Moore (Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, B.C.), and PMO press secretary Dimitri Soudas have all said publicly in the past that Mr. Zytaruk doctored the tape, however, a court ordered analysis determined it had not been altered "except for an over-recording that started after any contentious statement," the Globereported.

On Feb. 6, lawyers for the Tory and Liberal parties issued a joint statement saying the issue was settled out of court, without damages, and that neither side would have any further comment.

Prime Minister Harper, in his only public statement about the case since the settlement was reached, suggested on Feb. 11 in the House that the fact that the former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, Que.) has now been replaced by new leader Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.) since he launched his suit had something to do with the case being dropped.

"I have already said all I have to say about this case. I would note that the leader of the Liberal Party is no longer in his position," Mr. Harper said.

But Mr. Poilievre repeated the allegation that the tape had been tampered with on Feb. 13 in the House of Commons. However, when Mr. Comartin challenged him to say it outside of the House, where he would not be protected by Parliamentary privilege, Mr. Poilievre slipped past reporters through a back door after leaving the House.

Mr. Zytaruk, a journalist with Survey Now, has said he cannot afford a legal battle with the Tories, and in an email last week to The Hill Times said that media reports stating that he was threatening to sue the Conservatives were exaggerated.

"Clearly there's an information vacuum because the politicians are clamming up, so reporters are calling me to see how upset I am," wrote Mr. Zytaruk.

Mr. Comartin said he wants to have a serious discussion with Mr. Zytaruk, however, to get some "direction" from him before he helps him mount a legal case against the Conservatives for slander.

"I really would like to see if there isn't something we can do if the Conservatives continue with their really ridiculous position of making these false accusations against him. I really would like to be able to step forward, step up, and see if we can help him," said Mr. Comartin.

Mr. Comartin, a lawyer, estimated that it would cost at least $100,000 for Mr. Zytaruk to sue the Conservative Party, and he added that costs could run as high as $300,000. He said the NDP are not in a position financially to cover the costs of a lawsuit but said he's interested in exploring options such as fundraising and finding him a lawyer who would take the case on a contingency basis.

In Mr. Zytaruk's book Mr. Cadman's widow, Dona Cadman (Surrey North, B.C.), who now sits as a Conservative MP, alleged that Conservative Party officials offered her dying husband a life insurance policy.

The tape in question alleges that Mr. Harper knew about and approved of the offer, which sparked allegations of bribery against the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. The Liberals, under then leader Mr. Dion, posted the allegation that Mr. Harper knew about the offer on the party's website, which led Mr. Harper to launch the lawsuit against the Liberal Party.

Mr. Zytaruk has called the lack of transparency around the Feb. 6 announced settlement "distasteful," and the NDP have called on both parties to release details about the deal that was reached.

In response to a "Spin Doctors'" question in last week's issue of The Hill Times that asked if the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party should explain the details of their out-of-court settlement, Liberal Party spokesman Dan Lauzon drew a distinction between the so-called "Cadman affair" and Mr. Harper's lawsuit against the Liberal Party.

Mr. Comartin said he thinks the Liberals have been instructed not to comment.

"When I went after Poilievre and challenged him to take his statement outside and stop hiding behind Parliamentary privilege, a number of [Liberal MPs] stood up and applauded. Up to that point, I don't know how many questions had been asked but they had remained completely silent on it," Mr. Comartin said. "My sense is that a number of the members of the Liberal caucus would in fact like to pursue the issue but have been very clearly told not to."

The Hill Times repeatedly contacted Liberal justice critic Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.), who last year called on the RCMP to investigate the bribery allegations, however, he did not return calls for comment. The Hill Times also contacted the other two Liberal MPs who sit on the House Justice Committee, Brian Murphy (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, N.B.), and Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, B.C.). A staffer in Mr. Murphy's office said he was "not reachable," and a staffer in Mr. Dosanjh's office said that Mr. Dosanjh suggested The Hill Times contact Mr. LeBlanc.

Mr. Comartin, the only NDP MP on the House Justice Committee, said he would like to get to the bottom of the bribery allegations, however he said his reason for contacting Mr. Zytaruk was to help him fight back against the Tories' accusations.

"We don't have to turn [Mr. Zytaruk] into a victim even though the Conservatives seem determined to do that. Our thrust right now is to try and provide him with some relief against the accusations that have been made against him."

hmacleod@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times

6 comments:

Dr Mike said...

An open & all encompassing resolution must happen & the sooner the better.

We must know the truth.

Since Harper does not want to open this can of worms then it is time to open the can from the other end.

My money`s on Tom.

Dr Mike.

Ted said...

Dr. Mike:

Harper is only too willing to keep the can of worms open... as long as it is done in the protective realm of Parliament.

They continue to defame Zytaruk but only where they know they are protected from libel claims.

I'd be supportive of Zytaruk but I think he missed the boat. You have to give notice of defamation within 3 months of becoming aware of it. Moore and Harper lied and defamed him much longer ago than that.

Dr Mike said...

Ted

If that window is closed then it is time to open another because we must know the truth.

I am sick & tired of these politicians getting away with all sorts of crap under the guise of parliamentary privilege--they must be held accountable for what they say in the HoC--the "pinocchio" nose is so commonplace that they don`t need hat racks.

The amount of lying , wasteful spending , lack of accountability & the overall "who cares about the constituent" factor has me at wits end.

Hopefully other Canadians are fed up with all this milarchy & are willing to stand-up & be counted.

Dr Mike.

CAITI said...

Ted:

If what you say is true about "three months" aspect of libel, then why is Comartin pursuing this matter?

Comartin is a lawyer and my impression he is a good one at that.

Meanwhile, hard to believe the three month test begins from the date of the first slanderous act, but rather the most recent slanderous act.

Also Zatuak could argue to the court that he was relying on the CON/Liberal civil case to be the legal vehicle for his vindication, and now that avenue has died (for reasons beyond his control) then he has no recourse but to pursue the matter himself.

In that sense, he is simply asking the court to "grandfather" his case on the coat tails of the dropped CON/Liberal civil suit.

Any judge who would deny any such action, obviously would demonstrate no regard for society's purpose in allowing libel actions to proceed in the first place.

Brent Fullard

CAITI said...

Brent:

Count this family in for $1000.

David & Lorraine
Cornwall, Ontario

Ted said...

Brent:

I don't know why Comartin is pursuing it this way. He could be:

1. Just looking for the publicity (typical of the NDP but not really the way Comartin operates)

2. Be wrong on the law - don't know what kind of law he practiced or how long ago

3. Be so outraged by Harper's actions over this -as we all are - that he wants to make the point anyway, or be prepared should they show the balls to repeat what they say outside of Parliament

4. Be aware of some Canadian jurisdiction that does not have that limitation period - I know of Ontario law and most provinces are consistent but there could be some jurisdiction that is different.

By the way, the 3 months runs from the date Zytaruk became aware of the defamation, not from when the defamation occurred. This is just a notice, it is not the actual claim which must come within 2 years of knowing about the cause of action like most other lawsuits. The notice preserves your right to bring the claim later.

The rationale for such a time period and why the courts do strictly enforce it is that if it was such a statement as to defame you and truly harm your reputation, then you would be concerned enough to move to quickly protect your reputation. If you didn't think your reputation needed protection by at least giving notice then how much were you really defamed? The notice puts the defamer in a position to mitigate. Often it is the newspaper repeating someone else's allegation that gets sued, so they get the right to mitigate.