MONTREAL (CN) – A journalist claims that Canada’s Conservative Party, its press flack Ryan Sparrow and Cabinet member Christian Paradis defamed him by baselessly accusing him of involvement in Canada’s “sponsorship scandal.” Beryl Wajsman demands $1 million damages in Quebec Superior Court.
The sponsorship scandal, also known as AdScam and SponsorGate, is the tag used to describe the corrupt use of federal money in government advertising against Quebec separatists.
The program operated from 1996 to 2004, while the Liberal Party ruled. Revelations of the corruption contributed to the Liberals’ defeat in 2006 elections.
Ironically, some of the money funneled off was believed to have been paid to the separatist Parti Quebecois, which refunded it. The Gomery Commission was established to conduct a public inquiry and report on the scandal.
Wajsman says Conservative Members of Parliament baselessly accused him of involvement in the scandal in February 2007, and that Paradis “followed this up with a press release … which described plaintiff as a key figure in the sponsorship scandal. Defendant Sparrow was the person who released the communiqué and his name appears on it; the communiqué appears to emanate from the Conservative Party of Canada.”
Wajsman says the defendants falsely attributed the accusations to the Gomery Report: “The allegations made by Defendants Sparrow and Paradis are false and libelous; there is no evidence of any participation by Plaintiff in the sponsorship affair; nor did he play any role whatsoever; None of the charges can be grounded on any fact nor, indeed, on the Gomery Report where no accusations are made against Plaintiff and Plaintiff was not blamed for anything.”
He adds: “While the declaration in the House of Commons is probably privileged, the press releases are not, and they are sufficient to constitute libel by individual Defendants.”