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Crookes Responds to Column

Wayne Crookes has responded to this week's column on his lawsuits in a letter to the editor.

4 Comments

  1. Russell McOrmond says:

    Response?
    I haven’t seen anything yet in all the links that I’ve been sent that are allegedly defamatory that I can believe will be found by a court to be defamatory. Nobody is suggesting that freedom of speech is a license to defame. What is at issue is whether there is defamation at all rather than controversial political speech, and whether innocent third party intermediaries should be held liable even if there was defamation.

    Mr. Crooks response was typical of a politician: technically correct, but not at all related to the topic.

    Ms. May received far more nasty political speech against her this week by media and by political opponents (especially the Conservatives, but also the NDP) than anything that I have ever seen said about Wayne Crookes. In her case much of what was suggested was based on misinterpretations of something she hadn’t actually said, while with Mr. Crooks it is interpretations of activities which have never been refuted.

  2. mark Francis says:

    Russell’s right
    Just a reminder: I’m being sued by Wayne Crookes.

    Just further to what Russell wrote above…

    Al Gore recently though clear innuendo called Baird and Harper frauds, which means either

    1. they are involved in crime

    or,

    2 (the more likely meaning) they are liars

    Both are quite actionable with Canadian libel law.

    The typical attack ad on TV is libelous.

    On a daily basis I find libel on blogs in Canada, ripping at our politicians and the political parties they are part of. It’s healthy. People need to exchange ideas and speculate about the meaning of events when matters of public importance are at hand.

    Crookes speaks in his letter of not wanting the Americanization of our legal system. If this means he doesn’t want our libel law to match theirs, well, perhaps he has a point: Remember the swift boating of John Kerry? Now there was a conspiracy of libel.

    But what of all the other democracies who have moved beyond our aristocratic libel laws? In Britain, they recognized the need for protecting political speech with the Reynolds criteria, which basically says that democracy needs public figures to be speculated over to some degree. That very ruling noted that Canada had yet to consider the issue as to whether political speech deserves protection.

    And why does the Internet have to obey BC’s laws?

    Well, at least he used his right-to-reply and wrote a letter to the TorStar. That’s a start.

    More to come from me on this topic…. later.

  3. A cyberdissident says:

    Political speech trumps intermediary lia
    No, Russell is wrong on two counts.

    “What is at issue is whether there is defamation at all rather than controversial political speech”. This is incorrect and dangerous to believe, because the law of defamation requires intent (malice) to be considered, and that means that all persons involved must be identified. It is that identification process that creates the political risk.

    The main and grave risk to freedom of political speech comes NOT when any particular comments are examined but rather when the identify of the critic is revealed. It doesn’t matter if a US or BC court finds a fellow like Wang Xiaoning guilty of some particular crime (never mind that he would be guilty until he proves himself innocent), it matters that his name is revealed at all.

    Requiring every questionable political comment in the world to expose someone to appear at all in a BC court is of course “good for” BC lawyers but not at all good for anyone else.

    “Mr. Crooks” could actually sue you, Russell, for mis-spelling his name. He could (and given his history, quite possibly would) claim that you were trying to conflate “Crookes” with crooks, which is exactly the thin excuse he used to sue openpolitics.ca.

    You are also wrong that his response was “technically correct,” as to be correct in any sense the statements of fact must be correct. Mr. Crookes states that he “reluctantly” filed the suits, but evidence (their sheer number and his wilful rejection of all other options offered him) suggests very strongly otherwise.

    Also, as Larry Lessig argues, there is no technical sense any more that excludes technology and the specific options it provides: Print publishers cannot recall every copy of their printed works, but Internet users typically do not save page copies (though they might start to do so if more pages start to disappear, spreading the troll culture of reposting controversial comments that someone is trying to suppress).

    The negative effects of Crookes’ actions accrue almost entirely, and certainly most seriously, in the political realm. Therefore it is from that perspective that they must be considered in law.

    As for intermediaries, there is no court anywhere that will hold them entirely blameless if they didn’t reveal, for instance, the identifying information of people who persistently posted say death threats that the police themselves were satisfied were real. So there will always be circumstances for NON-political comment where the service provider will be required to cooperate and suffer liability (civil and criminal) if they do not.

    It is extremely dangerous and very wrong to let Mr. Crookes set the agenda of examination of this case. No doubt he would love his political critics to be lumped in with spammers, bullies and liars.

    By focusing on the intermediaries liability, you facilitate that and ignore the much more important rights of anonymous political commentators worldwide not to be revealed in civil lawsuits.

  4. ordinary citizen says:

    if he’s not guilty, why would he sue?
    It’s very strange that he would sue at all for this, but even more strange that he involves his company as a plaintiff. How was his company involved in the Green Party, or in financing the Green Party, or did it benefit from any contracts from the Green Party?

    Crookes must know something we don’t. His company must be involved somehow in a way that hasn’t yet been revealed. Why else would he involve it when it wasn’t criticized? It seems like a very stupid move for a businessperson involved in politics to drag the business and employees into court and expose them to whatever backlash the political fight will create. It also seems that someone would have to be very guilty and very afraid of exposure to engage in mass intimidation on this scale, suing Google and Yahoo and Wikipedia and so on.

    There’s something here that smells very bad indeed. The courts must know it, they’ve thrown out several of his suits already, some with harsh words.