Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Champerty and Maintenence

The Conservative Party of Canada appears to be incapable of embarrassment. Consider their argument against the robocall case, which opened yesterday. Arthur Hamilton, the party's lawyer, accused the Council of Canadians of bringing the case forward for the purposes of "champerty and maintenance" -- to push their political agenda and to fundraise on its behalf.

Tasha Kheiridden points out that there are all kinds of organizations which do that, as a normal part of the political process. She then goes on to list a number of such organizations on both the left and the right:

But the jewel in this crown involves none other than the prime minister himself. In 2000, Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens’ Coalition. The NCC had a history of fighting for its political agenda through the courts, including supporting one of its vice-presidents, businessman David Stockell, in his 2000 lawsuit against three NDP MLAs who had failed to keep their election promises. That same year, Harper launched his lawsuit against the federal government, Harper v. Canada (A.G.), alleging that Ottawa had denied groups like the NCC freedom of speech by banning third party advertising during elections.

According to former NCC vice-president Gerry Nicholls, the NCC paid for everything, using Harper’s name for symbolic purposes, “fighting for free speech as an individual on behalf of individuals.” Harper ultimately lost the court challenge at the Supreme Court, but he and his organization gained exposure and recognition for the lawsuit, and the NCC counts it among its major campaigns for freedom.

In other words, Hamilton is accusing the COC of exactly what it has done for years -- and which is, in no way, illegal. Hamilton gives Canadians an idea of where Conservative heads are. It's all about fundraising. The idea that the Conservative Party of Canada might have broken Canada's election laws is inconceivable -- although the party admitted doing precisely that with its own In And Out fundraising scheme.

Khieridden's conclusion is ironclad:

For Harper’s party to allege champerty and maintenance by the COC is thus pure hypocrisy. For the Tories’ lawyer to say that the COC believes it will succeed in “sinking the Harper agenda” by a set of lawsuits is laughable.

The COC will gain publicity, a soapbox for its cause, and donations from supporters new and old. But if the government’s agenda is so feeble as to fall over this lawsuit, then it doesn’t deserve to stand in the first place.


Lorne said...

The thing that strikes me about this entire sordid affair, Owen, is how hard the government that claims its roboccall innocence is fighting to keep the issue from legal examination. To state the obvious, if they have nothing to hide, should they not welcome this opportunity to put suspicions to rest?

Owen Gray said...

And their defenders, Lorne, keep trumpeting that they have no hidden agenda.

Anonymous said...

Canadians knew, over half of Canadians did not want Harper as P.M. If we knew it, he knew it. The vast majority of Canadians know, Harper cheated to win the election with his robo-call cheat.

Harper is fighting tooth and nail, to lie and cheat his way out of, his election crime. He also knows, he could never win an election fairly. Harper is terrified, he will lose his majority, he cheated so hard to get.

Harper is a traitor to Canada. He rightfully belongs in prison. Perhaps Harper should be exiled to Communist China. He would fit in much better in any, corrupt third world country. Harper is no Canadian, that's for damned sure.

Owen Gray said...

Mr. Harper has one defense, Anon -- denial. He will continue to use it.