Saturday, March 03, 2012

SLAPP suits 101 for 'Shorts' Martin!

Dear Mr. Martin:

You, Sir, walked into a classic, textbook SLAPP. Perhaps this cartoon will help you comprehend.
Of course, all this could have been easily avoided had you limited your comments to the House of Commons where you enjoy parliamentary privilege but noooooo ..... you walked right into this one eyes and mouth wide open.

In a letter dated February 24, 2012 from Edmonton/Calgary-based Parlee McLaws LLP, "We delivered correspondence on these matters to Mr. Martin on February 23, 2012" and, "..... we demand an immediate apology ....."

Oh, and one more thing. Anything you say between now and when this matter goes to trial, assuming there's no out of court settlement, can be used against you in subsequent proceedings. We recommend you elect trial by judge and jury which is your right, as well as, follow Counsel R. Justin Matthews advice, "Please govern yourselves accordingly."

Clare L. Pieuk
RackNine defamation an attempt to 'silence critics,' NDP MP Pat Martin says

By Bradley Bouzand Postmedia News
Saturday, March 3, 2012
New Democrat Party Member Pat Martin spends during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottaws February 29, 2012.

New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin does not think much of the $5-million defamation lawsuit filed against him and the NDP by RackNine, the company at the centre of the robocall scandal.

Martin said Friday evening that he suspects the lawsuit has a purpose other than simply seeking damages.

In an email to Postmedia News, Martin said RackNine “pulled the trigger on this lawsuit without even waiting for our response to their original letter of complaint which leads me to believe this is more a … suit to silence critics than any legitimate grievance about damages to reputation.

“There’s a strong public interest in defending the integrity of our democratic institutions,” Martin said in the email. “As an MP, I think it’s my job to defend the right of Canadians to cast their ballot in a fair election, free of interference.”

RackNine Inc., and its CEO, Matthew Meier, filed the lawsuit with an Edmonton court on Friday, claiming the party, specifically Martin, made a variety of defamatory statements outside the House about the company over the so-called “robocalls” affair.

The Edmonton-based company is seeking $2.5-million in damages for lost business income, as well as $2-million for aggravated damages linked to defamation and an additional $500,000 for general damages for defamation.
The lawsuit could serve as a welcome distraction for the Conservatives, whose campaign practices have been under intense scrutiny since the scandal came to light.

The CBC is reporting that, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s claims to the contrary, 14 Conservative MPs employed the services of Front Porch Strategies, an Ohio-based telemarketing firm, during the last federal election period. According to the broadcaster, thousands of calls were made in those MPs’ ridings from the firm’s Columbus headquarters, though with masked phone numbers to hide their origins.

Among the MPs alleged to have used Front Porch services was Harper’s parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro, who has been one of the most vociferous opponents of allegations of Conservative wrongdoing in the robocall scandal.

Chaos In Guelph

RackNine provided telephone marketing services during the 2011 federal election, and in the statement of claim, it said it was a non-partisan entity with no formal political relationship. The company’s services were used by the unknown person or persons who made misleading calls to voters in the federal riding of Guelph, Ontario, causing chaos at a polling station.

“RackNine fully co-operated with all of the requests made by Elections Canada during the course of its investigation as specified clearly in the Production Order of November 23, 2011, ”the statement of claim said. “Neither Meier nor RackNine were the subject of Elections Canada’s investigation as specifically stated in the Production Order. Neither Meier nor RackNine have ever been charged with any offence under the Elections Act or the Criminal Code of Canada.”

The statement of claim said Martin, during a February 23 news conference, mentioned RackNine or Meier on seven different occasions and singled out their conduct in a negative light.

“Martin’s words were defamatory, and, in the very least, carried the innuendo that Meier and/or RackNine had committed criminal activity, fraudulent activity, participated in a conspiracy, intimidation, sabotage and/or deceit.”

Among the comments the company took issue with in the lawsuit were repeated references to “RackNine rascals” over any possible involvement in the calls.

On February 24, the plaintiffs requested that Martin stop making what they alleged were defamatory statements and issue an apology.

The lawsuit claims Martin continued to defame the plaintiffs during a number of national television appearances, and on February 26, he appeared on a CTV news program and said no apology would be issued to RackNine or to Meier.

Martin’s claims have not been proven in court.

Both defendants have 20 days to officially respond to the lawsuit.
With files from National Post news services


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