Friday, December 22, 2000

Canadian Press

Day settles defamation lawsuit

EDMONTON — Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day settled out of court Friday in a defamation lawsuit launched by an Alberta lawyer over Mr. Day's comments about child pornography.

The suit, filed by Red Deer lawyer and school trustee Lorne Goddard, was to proceed to a judge-alone trial next month. No terms of the settlement were revealed but lawyers for Mr. Goddard said they would file a discontinuance of the legal action against the former member of the Alberta legislature.

"Our client feels relieved," said Rob Armstrong, one of Mr. Goddard's lawyers. "It's been a long and difficult two years since this all began, so he is relieved it is over and he will be able to spend a quiet Christmas with his family."

Mr. Day was unavailable for comment but Alliance spokesman Phil von Finckenstein said, "Mr. Day has been informed that the case has been settled and he really has nothing further to add.

"It's done. He is pleased we're moving forward," he said in a telephone interview from Ottawa.

Mr. Goddard had sought $600,000 in damages over critical comments Mr. Day made about his legal defence of a convicted pedophile.

At issue was a letter Mr. Day wrote, as MLA for Red Deer North, to the Red Deer Advocate newspaper in April 1999. Mr. Goddard had argued in court for his client's right to possess child pornography. Mr. Day's letter questioned Mr. Goddard's views on the issue in light of the fact that he is a public school trustee.

Mr. Goddard's fellow lawyers had raised almost $50,000 to help finance the suit, saying the case raised important issues for lawyers who defend clients whose views differ from their own. Mr. Goddard would have to pay his own legal bills, but Mr. Day's costs were being covered by the taxpayer-supported Alberta risk management fund because he made the comments while he was an MLA.

The fund has a $1-million deductible, meaning Alberta taxpayers are on the hook for the first million dollars of any settlement and associated legal costs.

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Created: December 24, 2000
Last modified: January 17, 2001
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