Alberta UCP Leader Smith Stops Pursuing Defamation Lawsuit Against CBC Over COVID

Alberta United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith won’t say whether she will follow through on her threat to sue the CBC for defamation over its coverage of its role in the handling of the COVID-19 court cases.

Smith gave the public broadcaster until last Friday to back down and apologize or face further legal action, but a CBC spokeswoman said Monday that she had not received any new requests from Smith’s legal team. Didn’t see anything.

Speaking to reporters at her party’s campaign launch in Calgary, Smith declined to answer when asked if she was still pursuing the case and, if not, why not.

“I think Albertans are interested in what we’re doing to move the province forward,” Smith said.

“That’s what I’ll be focusing on for the next four weeks, making sure people understand what a UCP majority government will deliver.”

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, speaking to reporters at her campaign launch in Calgary, said Smith is hedging because he doesn’t have a case.

“It seems to me that when [Smith] Caught dead for rights while trying to interfere with the administration of justice by someone accused of, among other things, attempting to incite violence against police officers, she was horrified – and Then they decided to sue,” Notley said. .

The controversy stems from a CBC story published on Jan. 19 that alleged one of Smith’s staffers had sent an email to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service challenging him in Coates, Alta. How Courts Are Dealing with COVID-19 Protests at the United States-Canada Border Crossing .

Smith has said the review found no evidence of contact between his office and the Prosecution Service. The CBC has said it stands by its reporting.

After the original CBC story, the issue lay dormant for two months until March 29, when the NDP released audio of a phone call between Smith and Arthur Pawlowski, in which Smith helped Pawlowski in his criminal case related to the Coutts protest. has been heard offering to do.

Smith is heard offering to hold an inquiry on behalf of Pawlowski, who reveals to him the government’s internal arguments about the direction of the case and tells him that the charges against him are rooted in political bias.

As Smith subsequently faced renewed questions and news coverage over his involvement in the Covid prosecution, a lawyer sent a letter on his behalf to the CBC on April 2, telling the broadcaster by an April 28 deadline. advised and accused of “trying to revive a false. defamatory narrative against the Prime Minister by continuing to quote the original story of January 19 in his reporting.

“We hereby provide notice of our client’s intention to take action against the CBC as may be required under the Defamation Act,” the letter said.

At a news conference on April 4, Smith told a CBC reporter, “I’m also waiting for an apology for the misinformation in the stories you and the CBC wrote.”

While the legal proceedings revolve around Smith’s role as Prime Minister, Smith confirmed that he is being funded by the UCP, raising questions about who is making decisions about how the case will proceed. .

Smith’s conversation with Pawlowski is also the focus of an ongoing investigation by Alberta’s ethics commissioner.

Legal experts have said the call violates the democratic convention that there should be a firewall to separate politicians from the day-to-day decision-making of cases before the courts.

Smith has said he has limited his involvement to reminding his minister of justice and the chief justice’s top civil servant – as he is independent – ​​of the important guideline that any prosecution should only be pursued by Should be done when it is in public interest and there is a reasonable opportunity. of success.

Smith has since said that she agrees that it is not appropriate for politicians and accused persons to discuss active criminal cases, but has said that her call to Pawlowski was fine because a politician Their role is to communicate with constituents and listen to their concerns.

He has also said that he did not realize his call with Pawlowski, which took place in January, would be about his criminal case and that he believed he was talking to him about the then-fringe Independence Party. She will talk about politics in the role of head. On Alberta

Pawlowski pleaded not guilty to mischief and breaching a release order, as well as a charge of willfully damaging or destroying essential infrastructure under the Alberta Critical Infrastructure Defense Act. A judge is expected to rule Tuesday in Lethbridge, Alta.

Smith has long been critical of the rules mandating COVID-19 masking, collection and vaccines, questioning whether the measures were needed to fight the pandemic.

She had promised to apologize to protesters of the COVID-19 health restrictions, but after becoming prime minister said she realized she did not have the power to issue a pardon.

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