Trudeau risks more by suing Scheer: defamation expert
Toronto lawyer and defamation expert Gil Zvulony says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s threat to sue Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for libel over a statement on the PM’s conduct involving ex-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould is, “a bad move.”
“If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Scheer,” said Zvulony “It’s still very, very, very preliminary … but (Trudeau’s) sort of painted himself into a corner.”
On Sunday, Scheer held a press conference to publicize Trudeau’s threat to sue, stood by his March 29 statement and remarks—subject of the PM’s warning—before daring Trudeau to follow through.
“If he believes he has a case against me, I urge him to do so immediately,” Scheer told reporters of the March 31 letter Trudeau’s lawyer Julian Porter sent threatening legal action for “highly defamatory comments” in Scheer’s statement issued two days previous.
These include characterizing the SNC-Lavalin scandal as government “corruption on top of corruption on top of corruption”, spurring four high-profile resignations in the aftermath of a February Globe and Mail story alleging Wilson-Raybould was dumped as attorney general for not bowing to political pressure to intervene in the Québec firm’s prosecution.
Scheer issued the statement March 29 after the Justice committee’s release of Wilson-Raybould’s secret recording and supplementary notes to her February appearance, when she testified facing such pressure by key figures in the Trudeau government, including the PM, over a period of four months in 2018.
But for Trudeau and his lawyer the statement was a bridge too far for their countenance.
“(It) is beyond the pale of fair debate and is libellous of my client personally and in the way of his occupation as Prime Minister,” his lawyer Porter writes. “This letter will be referred to in any subsequent action and is to be treated as a notice pursuant to s.5 of the Libel and Slander Act of Ontario.”
However, for Zvulony, who has successfully litigated defamation cases from either side of the fence, there are several reasons why Trudeau has little to gain by proceeding.
“There’s room to argue that what Scheer was doing was giving his opinion based on true facts. That’s number one, I think you would have a relatively strong case for defence of fair comment,” Zvulony told The Post Millennial. “And considering (Trudeau’s) an active prime minister, he’s got the bully pulpit and can get out there and comment on good speech and bad speech.”
“This battle because of what happened or not (regarding Wilson-Raybould), that’s for the House of Commons, that’s for the electorate (to decide). If there was a crime that’s for the RCMP. I don’t think that’s the realm of libel lawsuits,” he added.
Outside the House of Commons on Monday, few Liberals entering for question period would comment on their leader’s litigious intentions. Those who did, like Infrastructure minister François-Philippe Champagne and Border Security minister Bill Blair, portrayed Porter’s notice as an admonishment for Scheer and Conservative opposition members.
“I think it’s a good practice to remind everyone, although their comments are covered by privilege here, people should be perhaps more careful about what they say outside the House,” said Blair, echoing a similar statement Champagne made in French.
During question period, government House Leader Bardash Chagger – answering for the absent Trudeau – accused Scheer of “deleting defamatory statements” on social media, after being served notice, and spoke of the matter as destined for a courtroom.
“Anyone who knows the court system would know, the first step is putting them on notice… the process has already began,” Chagger said in several variations to QP bombardment by Conservatives over the matter.
If Trudeau does proceed, Zluvony said the PM could sue Scheer in any jurisdiction in the country, but that Ontario’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law would present initial challenges for the prime minister.
“It’s a law designed to prevent lawsuits where their real purpose is to stifle expression on matters of public interest and I think that’s where Trudeau is going to have a lot of difficulty,” he said. “If I were Trudeau, I’d find that jurisdiction that doesn’t have that anti-SLAPP law and sue there.”
According to Zvulony, SLAPP is but one of many hurdles for Trudeau’s legal team to prove their client was libelled and would expose the PM even more, including the discovery phase in which litigants must disclose evidence before facing a judge.
“The onus would be on Scheer to prove that (his statement) was true. So he would have to provide the evidence,” Zvulony said. “Now if the evidence is sitting in Trudeau’s office then (Scheer) can get that in the discovery process, so there is no trial by ambush.”
Other key figures who have been implicated, including Clerk of the Privy Council Micheal Wernick and Trudeau’s former top advisor Gerald Butts, could also be subpoenaed to provide statements under oath during the discovery phase.
If the case even gets to trial, there Trudeau would confront the most daunting test of all, given his position as the most powerful politician in Canada.
“The prime minister is going to have to show that the harm to him outweighs the harm to the public in allowing these words to be expressed,” he said. “In other words, the harm to the prime minister’s reputation outweighs the public’s right to hear these things and I think that’s a very difficult arguement to make.”
Zvolony said he tells his clients who want to sue for defamation to engage in it only as a last resort, when all other options to expunge a libellous publication or seek retraction for a slanderous public statement are exhausted.
“Trudeau’s lawyer is a top-notch lawyer but I’m really suprised,” said Zvulony. “Look, it’s a client’s decision but I think it’s a bad move. I tell my clients who want to sue for defamation, think of it like chemotherapy. You don’t take it for fun. You take it only if you have to.”
An instance of a sitting Canadian prime minister suing an opposition party or one of its sitting members for defamation is unique, but if Trudeau ultimately sues his case would not be the first.
In March 2008, then-prime minister Stephen Harper of the Conservatives sued the Liberal Party for $3.5 million over allegations party officials offered independent MP Chuck Cadman $1 million in exchange for the terminally ill member’s support to prop up Harper’s government in a 2005 confidence vote. The matter was later settled out of court.
Malaysia is intending to ship 150 containers of illegal waste back to the countries of origin. These countries include Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.
Malaysia’s Environment Minister Yeo Be Yin, told reporters that “it is not about money, it’s about dignity. When people dump garbage into your country, you are not supposed to pay them to send it back, you expect them to send it back by themselves.”
Yin further added that Malaysia will “stick to this line, we are going to send it back, and we are going to make people who export here and the shipping liners pay for it.”
Yin ended her speech by saying that this new policy “was unprecedented … we will hold the people to be responsible for their actions. They should be paying for the logistics.”
Yin’s comments may be seen as a provocation in what has been described as a “garbage war” by those in the media. Previously, tension rose as Canada sent non-recyclable trash to the Philippines that had been labelled as recyclable. Now, Malaysia is upset for similar reasons.
The garbage dispute between Canada and the Philippines got so bad that the leader of the country threatened to declare war if Canada did not allow the return of the garbage.
For several years now, The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been struggling to designate the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity. This is not only a troubling matter for the majority of Canadians, but is also a matter that places question marks on Trudeau’s administration and perhaps even the Prime Minister’s personal agenda.
The designation of the IRGC as a terrorist entity has been the priority of several governments, just not Trudeau’s. The United States of America was the latest to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity, joining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The European Union and United Nations have crippled the IRGC with tough financial sanctions and designated its top members as terrorists as well.
For years now, a number of Canadian politicians have pushed for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, but it appears that the man blocking an “entire designation” is Trudeau himself.
These calls were renewed once again after the U.S airstrike which killed IRGC Major General Qasem Soleimani on the 3rd of January 2020.
“The Liberals voted for the measure, yet have done nothing to recognize the destructive and destabilizing influence of the IRGC. The Conservative Opposition once again calls upon the Trudeau government to finally list the IRGC as a terrorist entity after 18 months of foot-dragging,” says a joint statement by Conservative MPs Erin O’Toole and James Bezan.
The IRGC has been funding, managing, supervising and conducting terrorist operations for four long decades in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, South America, Syria and Yemen; so, what’s stopping Trudeau from designating the group, in its entirety, as a terrorist entity?
Justin is struggling to make sense
The Government of Canada has already designated the Quds Force as a terrorist organization. Iran’s Qods Force is merely a unit within the IRGC, specializing in unconventional warfare and military intelligence operations around the world. The IRGC regularly threatens the American continent as well as Canada’s closest allies, either directly or through its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Yemeni Houthis and Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi.
Justin Trudeau’s administration has also renewed the terrorist designation of organizations that are either units or establishments of the IRGC, such as Hezbollah, while totally ignoring the fact that Hezbollah would cease to operate without the backing of the IRGC.
Furthermore, the Trudeau administration considers all of the IRGC’s affiliates such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorists, except the IRGC itself. From a national security perspective, this makes no sense whatsoever.
If the majority of the IRGC’s affiliates, small units, establishments and key figures have been designated as sources of terrorism by ally governments and previous Canadian government administrations, why then is Justin Trudeau delaying the terrorist designation of the IRGC, an organization actively sponsoring current designated terrorist organizations while also harbouring in Iran the terrorist leaders of Al-Qaeda?
It’s a ‘yes or no question’
Justin Trudeau, was Qassem Soleimani a terrorist?
If the answer is no, then you simply shouldn’t be Prime Minister.
If the answer is yes, then you are yet to fulfill your duty as Prime Minister towards the national security of Canada, and by not designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity, in its entirety, you are siding with government administrations that allow terrorists to operate with minimal criticism and opposition.
Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer is the representative for Cypress Hills—Grasslands (Saskatchewan).
We are now entering the second year of living under Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax regime in Canada. The beginning of a new year is a good time for us to step back and reflect on how federal policies are affecting the lives of everyday Canadians. At the same time, we are only a few months away from an annual carbon tax hike coming in April.
While firmly believing that this tax is generally harmful and ineffective, I want to focus on a telling feature of the Liberals’ so-called plan for reducing Canada’s carbon emissions. When the Liberal government first introduced their carbon tax in the last parliament, they reassured Canadians that it would be revenue neutral. Related to this claim, they announced that Canadians would receive a rebate in proportion to the amount collected from each province. According to them, it should acknowledge and adequately offset the costs of the tax on consumers.
Right before the end of 2019, we learned that the government is walking back their previous projections for the rebate a family of four could receive. Coincidentally (or not), the rebate happens to be going down for all the provinces that have not gone along with putting their own carbon tax into place. My home province of Saskatchewan is getting the biggest decrease in rebate money.
While the cost-increasing effects of the carbon tax can hurt many vulnerable members of our society, it is particularly making life harder for families and seniors. I have seen and heard about the damage it is causing my constituents and others living in rural Canada. I come from a riding and a region of the country where, along with making everything more expensive, the carbon tax is delaying economic recovery and draining away our agricultural and resource-based economy.
Of course, this is just another insult added to injury. The Liberals have also said that most households would receive more money back than they are paying under the tax, despite some indications to the contrary. After regularly spending extra for home heating or driving long distances in a part of the country where both are necessary, the full compensation through a rebate is questionable at best. On top of that, there have also been farmers calling attention to paying hundreds of dollars in additional tax for drying their grain after a difficult harvest year, which must be done if they want to make a living. Is there real compensation for them?
Considering all this, it gives us a perfect picture of how Canadians can expect the carbon tax to work in actual practice. As the tax rate and costs are on the rise, there is less support for taxpayers and struggling families. So far, the carbon tax rebate is turning out to be another letdown.
As tax season approaches after the first year of living under this policy, we are left to wonder if this discouraging trend will continue.
The RCMP intercepted 16,503 people illegally crossing into Canada from the U.S.-Canada border in 2019, according to new federal government data.
The number of people entering Canada via the border at unofficial ports of entry declined in 2019, but the total number of people making asylum claims jumped from 55,040 in 2018 to 63,830 according to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
The increase is due to more and more people flying to Canada and then making asylum claims upon arrival at airports across the country.
The Safe Third Country Agreement between America and Canada means asylum seekers are supposed to make refugee claims in the first safe country they enter, but when individuals cross illegally into Canada they are able to bypass the agreement.
The Trudeau government dragged its feet on doing anything significant to address the spike in illegal border crossings, first changing the wording to “irregular border crossings” and accusing critics of stoking xenophobia.
But in the lead-up to the 2019 election, after government internal polling showed the vast majority of Canadians polled didn’t approve of people crossing into Canada illegally, the Liberals promised to change legislation to curb the influx.
The spike in illegal border crossings began around the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canada welcomes those looking to find a new home and when U.S. President Donald Trump was cracking down on illegal immigration in America.
The National Post via an access to information request found that their was a deluge of inquiries across the world to Canadian embassies of people inquiring how to immigrate to Canada after Trudeau’s tweet in early 2017.
According to reports, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen’s briefing notes in December stated their are no formal plans setup with the U.S. to address the loophole to the Safe Third Party Agreement.