LaPointe strikes back against Vision lawsuit

Defence statement says corruption allegations were fair comment, covered by freedom of expression

On the eve of the 2014 City of Vancouver election, NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe has filed a statement of defence against Vision Vancouver’s defamation lawsuit.

The Nov. 14 B.C. Supreme Court filing denies the former newsman acted with malice when he accused Mayor Gregor Robertson and Coun. Geoff Meggs of corruption for comments Meggs made at a CUPE Local 1004 meeting where the union decided to donate $102,000 to Vision Vancouver.

“Rather than engage in public debate on the merits of the exchange of commitments between Vision and CUPE 1004, the Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking, among other relief, a broad interim injunction to restrain the right of Mr. LaPointe and the NPA and their ‘agents, servants or otherwise’, to exercise their right of free speech, in particular their right to political speech,” said the statement, filed by NPA lawyer Geoffrey Cowper.

The filing said LaPointe’s remarks were fair comment, covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s guarantee of freedom of expression. The defence statement noted how Vision Vancouver failed to sue any media outlet or third party, calling that a failure “indicative of the Plaintiffs’ ulterior and improper purpose in commencing this action.”

The controversy stemmed from an Oct. 16 story in the Vancouver Courier based on a leaked audio recording of the outside workers’ union’s monthly meeting on Oct. 14 where Meggs was joined by fellow candidates Niki Sharma, Trevor Loke and Raymond Louie.

“The issues in the Meggs/CUPE 1004 Recording have become notoriously known due to the media coverage that it received. Neither Mr. Robertson nor Mr. Meggs have denied the content of the Meggs/CUPE 1004 Recording.”

Meggs told the attendees that “our mayor has again recommitted to not expand contracting out, to make sure that wherever we can bring in new processes that members of 1004 will be there delivering those services in your areas of jurisdiction.”

Later in the meeting an unidentified female member said the union’s donation was intended to defeat the NPA, displace Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr and to “carry favour with Vision in the next round of negotiations.”

The controversy prompted one of the milestones of the election campaign, during the Oct. 26 debate at Christ Church Cathedral where Robertson had one of the most embarrassing moments of his political career.

The defence statement said Vision Vancouver “acted secretly to commit the City of Vancouver to not contract out union jobs; prejudiced the City’s bargaining position in upcoming labour negotiations, acted contrary to the best interests of the City of Vancouver, Vancouver residents, taxpayers, voters and others; acted in their own self-interest; and the business of the City of Vancouver would be better run with a higher level of transparency.”

No date has been set for a court hearing. Vancouver’s next city council will be known sometime after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15. Read the defence statement below.

Mobile users click here -> LAPOINTE.RESPONSE Defense Nov 14 2014.PDF

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