Jun 16, 2008

Faux Libel "Outrage"

From the "I can't believe a twit would say this" category of comments:
"The Conservatives are trying to "shut up the opposition by taking them to court" over the Chuck Cadman affair and could financially cripple the Liberals if the court proceedings drag on, says one political expert.

"It's not only libel chill, this goes at the very heart of the economics of politics," says University of Ottawa professor Michael Behiels"
What. A. Crock.

If a politician stands up in parliament and accuses another member (or party) of doing something or other, he or she is protected by parliamentary privilege. That's why we hear so many nutty accusations, charges, questions and statements from the inmates on Parliament Hill. Anything can be said, subject only to the Speaker's judgment of what is, or is not, "parliamentary".

And the populace, knowing that venues like Question Period are only outlets for parliamentarians (poor) acting ability, generally ignores these antics.

But when a politician steps outside of parliament (senate or house) and makes statements in the public media, he or she is exposed to the law of the land just as you and I would be. If that statement is what an aggrieved party believes to be slander or libel, the aggrieved party can take the utterer to court.

That's what happened with the Liberal party's statements about the Prime Minister. Not only were these statements made outside of parliament in front of the cameras (purely calculated to garner free publicity), they were allegedly made also on the Liberal Party's website.

So, please, don't give me all that guff about "libel chill". If a politician wants to make "questionable" statements, do it within the parliamentary infrastructure, where protection exists. But, if a politician or party knowingly makes (alleged) false or inaccurate statements outside that wall of protection, well ... they have to face the music, just like you and I.

Libel is libel, and no one (especially the Liberal Party) is above the law. And if they don't have the money to defend a libel action, then don't make such accusations in the first place.

I have zero sympathy for Dion and his Agents of Smear. Let them understand that their "entitlements" (that's the way they think) don't extend to being above the law. Let them also learn the principle of being accountable for their own conscious actions.

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