Saturday, March 19, 2011
Another web of potential political intrigue around Wilson's political downfall in 2007
Political names surface in [Blair] Wilson court case: Lawyers point to potential web of intrigue around MP's downfall
By Jane Seyd
North Shore News - March 18, 2011
LAWYERS for both the Province newspaper and former West Vancouver Liberal MP Blair Wilson have pointed to a web of potential political intrigue around Wilson's political downfall in 2007. Both sides were in the Court of Appeal this week, arguing over whether Province reporter Elaine O'Connor should be forced to reveal the secret source who gave her an anonymous report in the fall of 2007 alleging Wilson breached Elections Act rules.
The Province is appealing a Dec. 31 ruling by Supreme Court Justice Paul Williamson, who ordered O'Connor to give up the name of the source, known only as "a citizen in the riding," prior to the start of defamation trial set for the fall.
The allegations contained in the report -- which was also sent anonymously to the Elections Act Commissioner, a political blogger and a Canadian Press journalist -- became part of a story published by the Province in October 2007.
The allegations in the front-page Province article essentially spelled the end of Wilson's political career. After the story was published, Wilson was forced to resign from the Liberal caucus. Wilson was not charged following the Elections Act audit, but did enter into a "compliance agreement" after it was revealed he had made some minor errors in expense reporting.
Wilson later sued O'Connor and the corporate owner of the Province newspaper -- the company that also owns the North Shore News -- for defamation. Wilson also named ex-Liberal MLA Judy Tyabji Wilson (no relation), her company Tugboat Enterprises, blogger Steve Janke and prominent federal Liberal Mark Marissen in the defamation suit, alleging they also played a role in either distributing or publishing the allegations that smeared his reputation.
Those names -- and those of other prominent political players -- were repeated in court Wednesday as Burnett argued there were several people besides O'Connor whom Wilson could have pursued to find out who wrote the report, without demanding that a journalist turn over her source.
Among them were several people referred to by Tyabji in pre-trial statements as knowing about the allegations against Wilson before O'Connor's article was published, according to Burnett. These included former Conservative MP John Reynolds, who Tyabji said told her husband -- former politician Gordon Wilson -- that the allegations were about to be made public.
Other people mentioned by Tyabji as being possibly connected to the report were Neil McIver -- election campaign manager for current West Vancouver Conservative MP John Weston, former police officer and blogger Leo Knight and several Liberal riding organizers who worked on Wilson's campaign.
Burnett told the three appeal court justices the anonymous report made up just a small part of the total article on Wilson. He said it's also important to consider how O'Connor treated the information handed over by the source -- including practicing due diligence by seeking out others to back up the allegations.
But Jay Straith, Wilson's lawyer, said Wednesday it's unlikely the report's author will be revealed by anyone other than O'Connor, as several people -- including Tyabji, McIver and Knight -- have already denied writing it. Straith added the allegations in the report handed over by the source weren't just a small part of the story about Wilson. "This is the heart of the article," he said.
In his earlier ruling, Williamson said the source is crucial to the defamation case because it would address the question of whether the person who provided the report did so because it was in the public interest or whether they were motivated by personal or political "malice" towards Wilson.
But Burnett argued Wednesday there's no reason a source not motivated by "noble" purposes should get less protection under the law. He added if confidential sources aren't protected, other people with information vital to the public interest won't be willing to talk to journalists.
Read more HERE:
Secrecy is a useful tool if the perpetrators are trying to hide something shameful ...
A contract between Vancouver Olympic Committee and City of Vancouver will remain sealed and secret until the year 2025 ...
(if you ask me)
unless we elect a new and different kind of government for British Columbia.
Read more HERE.
Of course with our headlong rush to return to feudal times, perhaps duels to settle political disputes will also come back into fashion.
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The link is working just fine.
Plus, the full link is provided so you can copy-and-paste it into your browser, too.