Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Harper avoids giving testimony in defamation case.

Hmm..I thought only those immoral Liberals were involved in scandals. This could be called the Unsponsorship scandal. Obviously the Tories were sponsoring the sponsorship scandal whistleblower Alan Cutler but then refused to pay the associated costs to Riddell who withdrew from the nomination race for 50,000.

PM invoking parliamentary privilege in defamation case
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | 9:05 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is invoking parliamentary privilege to avoid being called as a witness in a defamation case launched against him by a former Conservative foot soldier.

Alan Riddell, who claims Conservative officials promised him $50,000 when he stepped down as a candidate in the last federal election, is suing Harper for allegedly libelling him in the media during the last federal election.

Harper's Ottawa-based lawyer, Rick Deardon, said Tuesday the prime minister is invoking parliamentary privilege to delay a pretrial examination scheduled for no later than August.

Other Canadian courts have ruled that parliamentarians are not compelled to appear at legal proceedings while the Commons is in session, as per parliamentary convention.

Commons customs stipulate that the privilege extends to 40 days after the end of one session, and to 40 days before the beginning of the next.

The timing of the court case and how it coincides with the Commons session means Harper might never have to give a deposition.

The defamation case is one part of a complex legal battle stemming from Riddell's attempt to become a Conservative candidate in 2005.

Riddell had supported the Conservative party for more than 25 years, raising funds and managing campaigns.

He had intended to run in the riding of Ottawa South in November 2005. But the Tories wanted to run a star candidate — sponsorship-scandal whistleblower Alan Cutler.

Riddell said he agreed to step aside, for the good of the party, in exchange for as much as $50,000 in expenses, but the Conservatives have refused to pay.

Judge ruled deal did exist
The Conservative party was, at first, reluctant to admit it had made the deal at all.

During the last election campaign, Harper told reporters there was no such agreement. Earlier this year, a judge ruled the deal did exist and ordered the party to pay.

Lawyers for the party have now launched a series of appeals in the case.

On Tuesday, the parties were in court arguing about whether to go to court to determine if the original deal had a confidentiality clause.

The defamation trial is scheduled for next February.

With files from the Canadian Press

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