#LavScam lawsuit lunacy, latest

The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson called it “needs-to-have-his-head-examined foolish.” The National Post’s Matt Gurney said it was “absolutely bonkers” and evidence of having “utterly lost [his] mind.”

Former Chretien communications boss Peter Donolo suggested it was “a mistake in a number of ways.” The Post’s Andrew Coyne cheerfully quoted other pundits, who themselves termed it an “unfathomably stupid move” and “the most ill-advised defamation suit since Oscar Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensbury.”

My personal favourite? Former BC Liberal top guy Martyn Brown, who abandoned all subtlety and simply declared it “batshit crazy,” quote unquote.

In fact, when one checks all known media – and this writer did, as a public service, gratis – it is impossible to find a single sane pundit who thinks Justin Trudeau’s libel lawsuit against Andrew Scheer is in any way defensible.

Oh, wait. Sheila Copps – who says Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott are pus-filled “boils,” and who said that Wilson-Raybould had an “aboriginal agenda” and cared more about “aboriginal” jobs – loved Trudeau’s lawsuit.

She thought it was a really good idea, and falsely claimed Scheer retreated after being served with the requisite libel notice (the Conservative leader has in fact repeated the alleged libels, word for word, outside the privileged confines of the House of Commons).

Pro tip, Prime Minister Chewbacca Socks: when Sheila Copps is giving you legal advice, you have well and truly reached bottom. Your octopus is cooked.

Now, this writer teaches media law at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law, and previously did so at Carleton University’s School of Journalism. This writer has also been involved in winning defamation cases all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada – cf., Macdonald v. CBC and Kinsella. This writer knows a bit about defamation law.

So, trust me when I say: Justin Trudeau has done many, many stupid things during the three months that LavScam has been a raging political dumpster fire. None, however, is as stupid as his decision to sue Andrew Scheer for telling the truth.

Three reasons.

1. Trudeau’s handed control to Scheer. Justin Trudeau’s apparatchiks on the Justice and Ethics committees shut down any further inquiry on LavScam. They showed Canadians, in effect, that there’s no justice to be found at Trudeau’s Ethics Committee, and no ethics on Trudeau’s Justice Committee.

The Ethics Commissioner’s “investigation,” meanwhile, has been buffeted by illness and possible conflicts of interest. Trudeau is leading a Nixonian-style coverup, ruthlessly crushing any possible legal avenue for Jody Wilson-Raybould to talk about the threats Trudeau directed her way.

So what does Trudeau’s oxymoronic brain trust do? They create a forum for Wilson-Raybould to tell her story – one that Trudeau cannot control. Watch for Scheer to push for Wilson-Raybould to become a witness. It’s coming.

2. Trudeau has alienated many, many media people with his ill-advised stunt. Reporters and editors do not like libel actions, at all. Why? Because they are the people who get sued most often. Media organizations, meanwhile, have spent many millions pushing the courts and lawmakers to adopt a more liberalized defamation law – and they’ve succeeded, to some extent, with the historic case of Grant v. Torstar Corp., back in 2009.

That is why not a single media person – save and except Chief Justice Copps – could be found to applaud Trudeau’s idiotic move. Not even Susan Delacourt, Heather Mallick, Chantal Hebert, Althia Raj or Joyce Napier celebrated Trudeau’s ludicrous litigation. Not even them.

The media have a deeply-held antipathy towards defamation actions, and understandably so. By launching this one, Justin Trudeau has alienated many ink-stained scribes. And he’s helped keep the story alive, now into its third consecutive month.

3. Trudeau may be Canada’s chief law-maker, but he clearly doesn’t understand the law. The thin-skinned Liberal leader’s lawsuit is a classic SLAPP action – a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Laws have been passed in various provinces to slap down SLAPP suits – including the one in which Messrs. Trudeau and Scheer reside, Ontario.

There’s another established part of the law Trudeau doesn’t understand: defences to defamation claims. In this case, all of them arguably apply: fair comment, privilege, and justification – or, truth. Because what the Conservative leader said was demonstrably true: Trudeau, his Minister of Finance, his Principal Secretary, his Chief of Staff, and his senior staff did pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould more than 20 times over a four-month period to help a sleazy Quebec-based donor, SNC-Lavalin, avoid a criminal trial. It’s the truth.

When this writer graduated from law school, he didn’t remember very many cases. He did remember what his criminal law professor recommended clients be told in criminal and quasi-criminal situations. You know, like Justin Trudeau’s LavScam scandal.

“When in a hole,” he’d say, “stop digging.”


Election Alberta 2019, in tweets


Khaaaaaaaaan!

Forgive the obscure Star Trek reference.  But it fits.

Check out this CBC story: Justin Trudeau’s annus horribilis continues.  I’m almost starting to feel sorry for the guy.

Almost.

Justice Patrick Gleeson ordered Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger to reconsider her predecessor Karen Shepherd’s decision not to investigate a complaint about the trip. Trudeau’s January 2017 trip to the island came at a time when the Aga Khan was discussing funding for projects with Trudeau’s government.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson found in December 2017 that Trudeau violated ethics rules by accepting the trip to the Aga Khan’s island.

However, Shepherd declined to investigate, saying the Aga Khan was not paid to lobby the government and, as a result, did not fall under the Lobbying Act.

Gleeson ruled that Shepherd’s definition of ‘payment’ was too narrow.

“The Act’s definition of ‘payment’ might reasonably encompass things of value that fall outside the scope of ‘remuneration,'” Gleeson wrote. “For example, and without expressing any view on the question, ‘anything of value’ might reasonably include a directorship within a corporation or organization, even in circumstances where the position is voluntary.”

While the Aga Khan was not paid, he was a member of the Aga Khan Foundation’s board. A foundation employee was registered to lobby on behalf of the organization.

Gleeson said that should have flagged the incident for review.

“I am of the view, in light of the purposes and objectives of the Lobbying Act and the Code and the investigative obligation imposed by section 10.4 of the Act, that the Commissioner was required to take a broad view of the circumstances in addressing the complaint,” Gleeson wrote.

“Instead, the record before the Court reflects a narrow, technical and targeted analysis that is lacking in transparency, justification and intelligibility when considered in the context of the Commissioner’s duties and functions. The decision is unreasonable.”


Nazis? Just when you think he can’t get any lower, Trudeau does

“Dirty Jew.”

It’s the Summer of 1986. The place: Caroline, Alta., just outside Red Deer.

The slur has been uttered by Terry Long, the “High Aryan Warrior Priest” of the Canadian branch of the Aryan Nations. I’m at the fenced gate leading to Long’s acreage. On either side of me are Meir Halevi and Irv Rubin — the Canadian and American leaders of the Jewish Defence League.

And Long has just called Rubin “a dirty Jew.” One of his followers, holding a rifle, laughs.

It’s a couple years later, Canada Day weekend 1988. I’m in Minden, Ont., at night, outside the rural property of John Beattie, one-time leader of the Canadian Nazi Party. A hundred or so neo-Nazi skinheads have gathered at Beattie’s property — for a cross burning.

As the cross is set alight, I can hear a hundred young voices shouting, their voices echoing through the woods: “Sieg heil! Sieg heil!”

Hail victory.

And now, it’s many years later. Things have gotten worse. A lunatic is in the White House, one whose very first promise was to bar Muslims from the United States. Far-right “populists” are seizing power all over. Racist and anti-Semitic crimes are surging, around the globe.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has just suggested his principal opponent,  Andrew Scheer, is in league with white supremacists. Or neo-Nazis. Or both.

“The Conservative leader refuses to denounce white supremacists!” Trudeau yells in the House of Commons. One of his ministers follows suit, and says that Scheer is “associated” with a neo-Nazi leader. Another minister says that Scheer “shares platforms” with white supremacists.

None of these things are true — Scheer has repeatedly denounced white supremacy in the House, and is in no way sympathetic to neo-Naziism. But it doesn’t matter.

The Liberal government, desperate to move on from the Lavscam scandal, has landed on a repellant strategy: brand the Conservative leader a Nazi sympathizer.

It’s dishonest and it’s despicable, but Trudeau is also undeterred. The Liberal leader is double-digits behind the Tory leader, some polls suggest. He is frantically attempting to change the channel from Lavscam.

But what Justin Trudeau is doing is dangerous. And it’s bad for the very minority communities Trudeau professes to support.

Here’s why.

This writer has been writing about, and researching, and opposing, the racist right for more than three decades. I wrote a national bestseller about subject, too, called Web of Hate.

I helped, along with my wife Lisa and others, get a Holocaust-denying newspaper barred from the postal system, and pushed to get its publisher and editor convicted of promoting hate against Jews and women (their sentencing is next Friday in Toronto).

So, take my word for it: Andrew Scheer is no neo-Nazi. I’ve gone face-to-face with real neo-Nazis — Hell, that one in Caroline, Alta., jammed his rifle into my chest — and what Trudeau and his party are doing is so, so wrong.

Suggesting someone like Scheer is a Nazi minimizes the actual crimes of actual Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler. Suggesting a political opponent is a white supremacist makes it harder to identify and oppose real white supremacists.

And, most of all, it trivializes the suffering of real victims of Naziism and hate. It makes people cynical and dismissive about calls to oppose the real haters. And it makes things that much easier for the Jew-hating High Aryan Warrior Priest, or the hundred skinheads screaming Hitler’s name one night. It helps them.

So, what Justin Trudeau is doing is more than disgusting. It is disgraceful.

Because when everyone is a Nazi, Prime Minister, then no one is.