Vancouver mayor suing rival candidate Kirk LaPointe for defamation
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Geoff Meggs have filed a defamation lawsuit against their opponents in the upcoming civic election.
In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, Robertson and Meggs cite four instances of allegedly defamatory statements by Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe and his party.
The plaintiffs are seeking “a complete retraction, damages, costs,” and the pulling of political ads, according to a statement released by the mayor’s Vision Vancouver party.
The television and radio ads in question began running on Tuesday, but the alleged defamation contained within them can be traced back to an opinion piece LaPointe wrote for the Oct. 21 edition of the Province newspaper.
LaPointe’s column is about statements Meggs made at a meeting of CUPE Local 1004, a labour union that represents city workers.
LaPointe interpreted Meggs’ comments as meaning that the mayor had committed not to hire any new outside contractors to do city jobs in exchange for the union’s support, an interpretation the plaintiffs say is false and defamatory.
In their claim, Robertson and Meggs allege that LaPointe’s column portrays them as corrupt, dishonest, lacking in integrity, and unethical. The column also says that they have broken the law and breached their fiduciary duty to the citizens of Vancouver, the claim alleges.
Other alleged instances of defamation referenced in the claim imply that Robertson and Vision are “buying votes,” that they “sold out the city’s interest for political expediency,” and that they “cut a secret deal with CUPE."
The civil claim goes on to note other instances in which LaPointe and the NPA have made similar arguments about Robertson, Meggs, and their relationship to CUPE. It refers to alleged subsequent defamations that took place on the NPA website, at a press conference, and finally in the ads that began running this week.
A statement released by the Non-Partisan Association late Thursday called the suit an attempt to stifle its criticism of the opposition party’s record and behaviour.
“This legal action can now be added to the countless costly, time-consuming suits involving community groups and individuals across the city,” it reads.
LaPointe says the NPA’s legal team is now reviewing the statement of claim, and he will provide a reaction Friday.
On Thursday, Vision Vancouver released a list of 2014 campaign contributions. The list includes $34,000 in contributions from CUPE Local 1004, as well as contributions from two other CUPE entities.
In total, CUPE contributed $226,000 to Vision’s campaign.
The municipal election will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15.