Martin Source Felt "Sick" and "Used"

One of Don Martin’s sources says she felt “embarrassed and used and stupid” after reading his article attacking her candidate in the 2008 Alberta election. The same article is still being widely published today, during the 2012 campaign.

Documents filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary show that my former Legal Counsel and Official Agent, Kristine Robidoux, Q.C., stated under oath that she took immediate exception to Martin’s article, which was published midway through our 2008 campaign.

Robidoux, Q.C. is one of Martin’s co-defendants in the $8 million defamation action Kent v. Martin, National Post, Canwest et al

Relevant transcript pages from Robidoux, Q.C.’s questioning are included in an affidavit, filed in the Court of Queen's Bench on March 29, 2012, supporting my motion to have the corporate media defendants found in contempt of court for disrupting the action’s discovery schedule, which has been established by court order.

The motion also seeks an order to compel the media defendants to answer questions on their defence of responsible journalism.

Documents filed with the court show that Robidoux, Q.C. stated that when speaking to Martin she hoped to be “limiting the damage” she feared his article might do. Instead, she said:

“When I saw the piece, I saw that that was -- that that really didn't translate into his story, and I felt sick about it.”

                                                  Defendant Kristine Robidoux, Q.C.

In further questioning, Robidoux, Q.C. stated:

“I felt that the article that he published was not in line with what I had been led to believe was going to be published, and I felt physically sick over it.  I felt embarrassed and used and stupid.”

When asked if she had never taken steps to have the Martin article removed from its continuing publication on the internet, Robidoux, Q.C. stated:

“I would love for that article to come off of whatever website wherever it possibly is.  I have not seen it, but I don't care about it, and I wish it were off the Internet, if it's true that it's in fact still on there.”

More than four years after its first publication, the Martin article continues to be republished internationally each day during another Alberta election.

The impugned article is displayed with present-day news alerts and advertising on at least 35 websites now owned by Postmedia Network Inc, or recently sold by Postmedia to Glacier Media Inc.

My March 29 affidavit, together with a second affidavit filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench on April 5, 2012, will also support an injunction application seeking an order to compel Postmedia to cease publication of the article. 

The April 5th affidavit states that Martin’s sources take issue with the content of the article, and that the article is:

“…at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s tests for “responsible communication,” otherwise known as “responsible journalism,” established in the Court’s ruling in Grant v. Torstar Corp, 2009 SCC 61…”

At an upcoming hearing in Calgary, the court will rule on my application that the corporate media defendants, and their representative, Calgary Herald editor in chief Lorne Motley, be ordered to answer questions on responsible journalism.

Documents filed with the court show that the media defendants' lawyers have repeatedly objected to this line of questioning, despite their use of responsible journalism in Statements of Defence in both Kent v. Martin, National Post, Canwest et al, and the separate action Kent v. Postmedia Network Inc., National Post Inc., Paul Godfrey and Gordon Fisher.

The media defendants' objections have occurred as the discovery process reveals more information about relationships between the political and corporate news media defendants.

For example, as the corporate representative of the media defendants in Kent v. Martin, National Post, Canwest et al, Lorne Motley swore a Supplemental Affidavit of Records on July 15, 2010. His affidavit states that he had personal knowledge that:

“Since I swore my Affidavit of Records, the Defendants have come into possession custody or power of additional records that relate to matters in issue in this action and that I do not object to producing for inspection…”

The additional records produced were hundreds of pages of emails provided to the media defendants by my former campaign manager, Bruce Thorpe, a PC party activist. Last year, Thorpe was named a co-defendant in the lawsuit. The emails produced by the media defendants became known in court filings as “the Thorpe Disclosure.”

Although Motley was the corporate officer who swore the Thorpe Disclosure onto the record, documents filed with the court show that he has stated in questioning that he has no information as to how the emails came into the possession of his employers and their lawyers at the Calgary law firm of Parlee McLaws, and that he did not review the records before swearing the affidavit.

My lawyer Michael Bates questioned Bruce Thorpe on the matter during Thorpe's discovery on January 25 and 26, 2012. Relevant pages of Thorpe’s transcript are included in my March 29, 2012 affidavit.

When Thorpe was asked how his emails came into the possession of the media defendants’ lawyers, Thorpe answered:

“I was approached to have a meeting with them, and I didn't know any better, so I had a meeting with them. 

“Through the course of the meeting, we discussed some items, and because they kept asking questions -- and, to be honest, I didn't want to be bothered anymore -- I went through all my emails, and the ones that I thought were important, I gave them to them.  And I thought I wouldn't have anything more to worry about dealing with this.”

Thorpe was asked:  “Who was it that approached you?”

Thorpe answered:  “Bill Smith.”

Bill Smith is the president of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party. He was named as a defendant in Kent v. Martin, National Post, Canwest et al in June of 2011. 

During the 2008 election campaign, Smith was the PC's Calgary vice-president. Documents filed with the court show Smith was a recipient and sender of messages produced in the Thorpe Disclosure.

                                                           PC president Bill Smith

Thorpe has stated that delivery of his emails to lawyers for the media defendants, Scott Watson and Peter Cline, took place after the meeting at Parlee McLaws’ Calgary office on March 18, 2010, according to court documents.

Bill Smith, who is a lawyer and member of the Law Society of Alberta, was present for the start of the meeting, Thorpe stated. Smith then left, according to Thorpe, leaving him alone with Watson, Cline and a paralegal. Regarding the media defendants’ lawyers Thorpe stated:

“The -- they were looking for specific information.  I decided to then go through my emails, as I mentioned, because I didn't want to be bothered anymore with this.  Here you go, so they're not coming back to me every couple weeks, What about this?  What about that?”

Bill Smith was questioned under oath on March 15 and 16, 2012. Relevant pages of Smith’s transcript are included in my March 29, 2012 affidavit, filed with the court. When Smith was asked why he approached Thorpe, Smith answered:

“I think there was an inquiry from somebody as to if there were any records left over from the campaign.”

Smith was asked: “Do you remember who it was that made that inquiry?”

Smith replied:  “I believe it was Scott Watson. I had articled at Parlees.”

As a journalist and private citizen before the courts, I have been unable to find any other previous or ongoing Canadian legal proceeding in which lawyers acting for a major news media organization have produced the documents, correspondence or records belonging to an activist member of a governing political party, with the aid of the party's president, and sworn onto the court record by a member of senior editorial management.

The media defendants’ directives on journalism ethics, policy and practice, as produced in these actions, include provisions on the subject of conflict of interest, with particular emphasis on political figures, lobbyists and "groups."

For example, the Calgary Herald Editorial Code of Ethical Policies and Practices states under “CONFLICT OF INTEREST, GIFTS AND FREEBIES”:

“Newsroom employees are encouraged to be active members in the community. They are also obliged by journalistic ethics to remain free from formal associations that might influence, or appear to a reasonable person to influence, the editorial independence of themselves and the Herald in a negative fashion…

“Primarily, the associations in question involve groups regularly involved in and associated with the pursuit of political power and lobbying to influence public policy.”

The Thorpe Disclosure is remarkable for another reason. Bruce Thorpe, who provided the emails to the media defendants, describes the Martin article as: “not accurate.”

Thorpe has taken exception to the article both in a document produced by the media defendants and in questioning, according to documents filed with the court.

An email from the Thorpe Disclosure, sent to me by Thorpe in November of 2008, acknowledges that Martin’s claim in the impugned article that “half” our campaign team had threatened to resign was false. Thorpe said only “a couple” of people had voiced that intention. He also wrote:

“I do agree the other two main points should have been confirmed before written. Sadly, I have seen this sort of reporting too many times over the years…”

Court documents show that in questioning, Thorpe stated that when Martin called him prior to the publication of the article:

“He did ask me about -- the only thing I do remember is the question about Stephen Doolan and the treasurer, which threw me for a loop, because Stephen and I had been in contact -- constant contact, and I had heard nothing about him wanting to resign, so…”

Thorpe stated, according to documents filed with the court:

“I don't remember the exact details.  I just remember him asking me whether or not -- along the lines of whether or not the treasurer was -- the CFO was going to resign, and I said, No.”

By contrast, Martin’s article states:

“Even so, his financial agent was rumoured to be on the verge of quitting…”

My affidavit includes an email sent to me by Stephen Doolan, via Thorpe, on February 13, 2008, the morning the Martin article was published in the print editions of the Calgary Herald and National Post. Doolan’s email**, as sent to Thorpe and forwarded to me, states:

“Martin’s Article Says I have threatened to quit. I have not threatened to quit. Could you please pass this along to Arthur.”

My affidavit continues:

“In fact, all of Martin’s sources take issue with the content of the Martin Article.

“In his Statement of Defence, Roderick Love denies ever speaking to Martin about me or my campaign.

“Alan Hallman has alleged in a Third Party Notice against the Media Defendants that the Martin Article is not an accurate representation of the opinion he expressed about me to Martin.”

As well, transcript pages included in my affidavit indicate that Thorpe was shown a copy of the Martin article and asked to read this paragraph:

“Insiders gleefully describe how all of Mr. Kent’s brochures blew off a pickup on the Deerfoot Trail, tying up traffic while workers scurried between cars retrieving thousands of pamphlets wind-whipped into a paper blizzard.”

In fact, Bruce Thorpe’s brother drove the truck involved in the incident. Traffic was not tied up. There were no complaints. Bruce Thorpe has stated:

“I was the lone volunteer picking up brochures, so it's not accurate.”

The case continues.

**Version shown here is from my records, with private contact details removed.
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