Friday, February 06, 2009

Harper's Cadman lawsuit a monument to political censorship

So now that the Cadman suit has been settled, it can be said that while this is a win for the Liberals (it always is if a defendant walks away with no costs awarded against them) the muzzling efforts of the Prime Minister have nevertheless to an extent paid off. And that is nothing for our country to be proud of. That we have a Prime Minister who would deploy such litigious tactics against his political opposition and then walk away from them when it suits him is a disgrace. Peter Russell was exactly right about what we have witnessed here with this Harper lawsuit and I hope we see some ensuing commentary to that effect. Here's the CP update:
Stephen Harper has dropped a $3.5-million defamation suit against the Liberal party over the Chuck Cadman affair.

A terse news release says the prime minister and the Federal Liberal Agency of Canada have agreed to settle all issues related to the suit.

The action has been dismissed without costs awarded to either side and both parties have agreed not to comment further.

Harper launched the lawsuit last March after the Liberal party accused the prime minister of condoning immoral, illegal and unethical behaviour in the Cadman affair.

The Liberals charged that Harper was aware of an attempt by Conservative officials to bribe Cadman, the late independent MP, in return for his support during a crucial 2005 confidence vote. (emphasis added)
See also the Globe update now that includes this note:
Although he never won a court ruling on the matter, Mr. Harper's legal manoeuvring did effectively silence the Liberals on the Cadman affair during last fall's election campaign.

The party decided not to use the tape while the injunction request was before the courts.
In the big picture, again, you'd have to say that this is a win for the Liberals in getting Harper to walk away. It looks bad for the Prime Minister to have put his party to this expense. To have stated such blather in the House of Commons:
"The truth is that this will prove to be, in court, the biggest mistake the leader of the Liberal party has ever made."
Yeah, not so much. There was so much bluster and hot air including claims of "malicious and reckless defamatory statements" having been made by the Liberals. Really? Then why drop the suit? If someone so blatantly defamed Mr. Harper, surely he'd have stuck this out for true vindication. Guess not.

Not to mention the collateral damage inflicted upon author Tom Zytaruk who was indirectly accused of doctoring the tape on which Harper's words were spoken. So sorry, Mr. Zytaruk, Harper is now finished with his little litigious exercise, thanks for playing.

Harper did, however, put the Liberals to the expense, politically and monetarily, of pursuing this litigation and you can't minimize that. He has also obtained some agreement "not to comment further" which is unclear as to its scope. Can't say any of that is good because in a sense, he may ultimately have achieved his suppressive objective and desire to hurt the Liberals financially. That is a terrible precedent. However, it's hard to imagine many politicians following his lead in the future.

But if the Liberals are no longer in financial jeopardy as a result of this suit, settlement was a no-brainer. The mess has been resolved. At the end of the day this lawsuit is a testament to Mr. Harper's terrible, over the top partisan take-no-prisoners politics that he has brought to us. He's the big loser here.