NPA says the Vision suit seeks to stifle debate and is a blatant misuse of the courts to manipulate public opinion
Vancouver BC, November 8, 2014 -The NPA and its mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe call on Vision’s Gregor Robertson and Geoff Meggs to withdraw their defamation suit, with LaPointe vowing he’ll continue speaking out on behalf of concerned citizens.
“Free speech is the life-blood of democracy. Nowhere is this more important than political speech,” notes a letter written by NPA lawyer Geoffrey Cowper sent to Vision’s legal representatives. “Members of the public, the media, and politicians must be free to express their views about candidates, parties, policies and platforms, for without this, democracy will wither.”
LaPointe adds, “This suit shows Vision’s pattern of bullying and harassing those who dare challenge it. Vision has used the tactic with community centres, residential groups, the Aquarium and even councillors like Adriane Carr, who was recently blocked from bringing forward a council motion.”
“The suit smacks of Vision’s desperation. And its bullying stops now.”
The Vision suit, filed last Thursday, is in response to comments arising from the disclosure of a secret recording made public by the media, in which Meggs told the CUPE local for outside city workers that Robertson has “recommitted to not expand contracting out.”
The NPA legal response says the public interest in the CUPE matter “has brought about substantial coverage in the …media. Our clients have commented on (the issue) but they are certainly only a small part of the chorus of voices raising concerns….”
The response points out that fair comment on the statements in the recording is protected by the common law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the NPA’s comments constitute fair comment on those statements. Cowper’s letter says the significance of the statements should be judged by voters.
The NPA and LaPointe strongly believe that suing to prohibit fair comment in the last days of a campaign is undemocratic and a misuse of the court’s process. They say that a withdrawal of the action means the campaign can conclude in a spirit of free expression, without the overhanging threat of litigation.
However, says LaPointe, “If Vision refuses to withdraw the suit, rest assured, we will continue to defend free speech and the rights of all those who have been bullied by Vision.”
Contact: Ann Gibbon, [email protected]