Rebel.Media have had a letter from Richard Warman causing them to replace my review of Connie Fournier’s excellent book with a statement designed to ward off litigation. You can read the statement – which I hasten to add I in no way accept or endorse – here. You can read the review of Connie’s book here. Rebel.Media folded in the face of the famously litigious Warman. Rebel.Media did not contact me prior to removing my review and publishing Warman’s retraction notice. That is not how such things are done.
The statement published by Rebel.Media suggests that things which appeared were false. Now, that may refer to the comments which appeared after the review and I make no comment on those. However, in terms of the review itself a few notes:
1) If Richard Warman has any specific allegation he believes is false he is free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and seek a correction or is welcome to fight his corner in the comments here or beneath the review.
2) Being a careful writer I checked each of the assertions of fact made in the review against references in the public record including transcripts of evidence taken at Tribunal Hearings, Decisions of the Tribunal, trial transcripts and public statements. Obviously it is possible I may be mistaken on one or more points and I welcome corrections if an error has occurred.
3) By convention book reviews, which my piece clearly was, are considered opinion rather than reported journalism.
4) As such I am quite prepared to defend my views, specifically and in general, as fair comment.
5) Alternatively, should it come to that, the review in question took as its theme a question of broad public interest – namely the consequences of Bill C51 given the Harper government’s failure to exercise proper oversight and control over the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s investigations under s.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This was a theme which ran through Connie’s book.
6) I would suggest that the defence of “responsible communication in the public interest” is engaged for any sections of my review which were not either “fair comment” or, as the expression goes, mere invective.
7) In writing the review, and in order to make my point about the failure of the Conservative government vis a vis the CHRC, I used examples which are on the public record including the “jadewarr” history, the complaintless investigation of Free Dominion by the CHRC and Tribunal Chair Edward Lustig’s characterization of behavior as “disappointing and disturbing”. Other remarks I made about the conduct of the Commission were also based upon the public record. I also stated that Connie did not mention Richard Warman “for legal reasons”, namely she is under an injunction not to arising from the John Doe matter.
That the record might seem to damn Mr. Warman does not make discussing that record defamatory. Something that the Rebel might have considered before capitulating and then publishing defamatory material going to my professional reputation as a writer.
I note that the statement which appears at the Rebel is, in itself, defamatory in so far as it implies that I have lied about Warman. Knowing how quick on the litigation draw Warman is I was very, very, careful not to lie about Warman: the truth is damning enough. Asserting that I make false allegations, given that I make part of my living as a writer, amounts to an attack on my personal and professional reputation. And, unlike my review, Warman’s statement is neither fair comment nor “responsible communication in the public interest”. It is a bald assertion. I am weighing my legal options
Perhaps Rebel.Media can be said to have published Warman’s statement under duress, however the fact remains, that by removing my review and publishing the retraction notice Warman required, Rebel.Media has allowed its pages to be used to defame my character and impugn my professional reputation.
I repeat that Rebel.Media did not contact me prior to publishing this retraction notice. I neither approved of its wording nor consented to its publication.
It appears that Rebel Commander himself was quarterbacking the Rebel’s grovel in the direction of Warman.