Joltin’ Joe


From the Hill Times.

NDP MP Joe Comartin says he is looking at ways to help author Tom Zytaruk finance a lawsuit against the governing Conservatives…

“I really would like to see if there isn’t something we can do if the Conservatives continue with their really ridiculous position of making these false accusations against him. I really would like to be able to step forward, step up, and see if we can help him,” said Mr. Comartin. 

Mr. Comartin, a lawyer, estimated that it would cost at least $100,000 for Mr. Zytaruk to sue the Conservative Party, and he added that costs could run as high as $300,000. He said the NDP are not in a position financially to cover the costs of a lawsuit but said he’s interested in exploring options such as fundraising and finding him a lawyer who would take the case on a contingency basis. 


Joltin’ Joe

  1. I raised the issue of Zytaruk suing for defamation in a ITQ blog some time ago, but others suggested that his opportunity had since elapsed,a statute of limitations thing.

    So, on what basis is Comartin proposing to take legal action?

    • From CAITI this morning – Not my words but I agree with them

      My suggestion is that monies raised from concerned Canadians who are interested in preserving the integrity of our democracy be collected and used to defend Zytaruk against Harper’s slander and libel , and in turn would be repaid with the proceeds from the sale of a new book to be written by Zytrauk on the entire trial/ordeal.

      The proceeds from the book would first go to pay off those who contributed to his legal defense and any excess would accrue to Zytrauk, 100%.

      I am good for the first $1,000 and could be talked into more. What say you?

      To expedite matters and to defray costs, we would retain the services of the Liberal’s former lawyer and leverage off the the fine legal work he has done to date.

  2. Why don’t they just set up a website for it? There are lots of people who would gladly donate. Even small amounts, if there are enough of them, could be enough.

    Mr. Zytaruk deserves his day in court to clear his name.

  3. Considering the dependance the NDP has on the voter subsidy, Conservative voters would be largely bankrolling the New Democrats helping someone sue the Conservatives! Oh the irony!

    • Would it be more efficient then to have the consevatives bankroll Mr Zyturak ; at least they could get their write-offs. And it would cease to be mere irony and enter the magical realm of farce.

    • No irony there Lord Bob – Conservative voters’ 1.95 went to the cons, not the NDP.

      • You are completely, one hundred percent correct. I don’t know why I said that. I swear I wasn’t drinking, and it was an inexcusable comment on my part. My apologies to every New Democrat for that bad thing I said about them!

        (Not all of the bad things. Just that one stupid one.)

  4. I still don’t understand why Comartin doesn’t push to have this dealt with in the ethics committee. That would keep it in the news, pressure Harper and others with first hand knowledge to testify or look guilty anyway by refusing to testify. The NDP gave the excuse for blocking this from the ethics committee of waiting for the RCMP investigation to end. Well, that investigation ended. Lawsuits tend to suppress news coverage and can take years to resolve. I think the committee route is much preferable.

    • Catherine,

      This goes back to the legal precedent that was set by Patti Star’s legal team, that parliamentary committee hearings and royal commissions can interfere with an individual’s legal rights before the courts. Now that was a criminal case, and Mr. Zytaruk would be seeking a civil remedy, but regardless I believe the issue here was whether evidence given in Committee could later be used in court or would prejudice later legal proceedings.

      Parliamentary Committees can compel witnesses to attend and I believe their testimony is privileged (meaning it can’t be later used in a legal proceeding), but Committees specifically cannot impose legal remedies, and I guess there is a question as to whether their activity would be seen to have prejudiced a subsequent legal proceeding that *could* impose a legal remedy.

      You seem to be viewing legal proceedings merely as a way to bury an issue politically. That may be true for political parties, but it’s not true for Mr. Zytaruk. He doesn’t have an interest in seeing one political party or another come out on top (whatever that means); he just has an interest in seeing his name and reputation cleared. That can only be accomplished in a court proceeding, unless apologies are forthcoming otherwise.

      I believe this was Mr. Comartin’s view all along, and is what lay behind the NDP’s position on that matter. Unfortunately, some off-the-record staffperson tried to make themselves sound important and give that silly quote to Mr. Weston about how this was a ploy to diminish any credit the Liberals might get from raising the subject in Committee. Taking the issue to the Committee was as much a political ploy of the Liberals at the time, for surely they would have been aware of the legal ramifications for Mr. Zytaruk. Ultimately the Liberals’ own legal interests outweighed any concern they had for Mr. Zytaruk’s. And I don’t hear even Liberal MPs arguing anymore that the issue should be returned to the Ethics Committee, do you?

      I’m glad Joe Comartin is keeping his eye on the real issue here.

      • If the NDP were really interested in Zytaruk, they would not have sided with the Conservatives in blocking the issue from committee investigation. Had the NDP not sided with the Conservatives, we could have had the tape validity cleared up long ago.

        Just to be perfectly clear, I do not have any concerns at all about Zytaruk’s motives, as I feel he has been very shabbily treated by the Conservatives and has grounds to sue them if he wishes. By contrast, from the NDP’s past behaviour, I have no reason to have any confidence in the their motives, and that is why I wonder if they are trying to prevent any use of the tape.

        • Catherine, I guess the point is that the NDP did not “side with the Conservatives” but took a position that did not jive with what the Liberals wanted to do. However, I doubt you’ll agree with that perspective.

          The Liberals were the ones who were given the advance copy of Mr. Zytaruk’s book, and who had access to the evidence in the legal proceedings. This is why one might have expected them to take greater pains to protect Mr. Zytaruk’s interests and ascertain the validity of the tape.

          • Call it what you will. The NDP member voted with all the Conservatives and that ended the possibility of the investigation and when the RCMP ended their work, the NDP continued to do nothing. Except for the NDP, we likely would have known more by now.

          • Here is how it is described on NDP Pat Martin’s website:

            “The Liberals have taken to this like a dog to a pork chop because they are desperate,” said New Democrat MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre), who holds the swing vote on the ethics committee and will vote with the Conservatives, and against the Liberal and Bloc Qu b cois members, to block the committee from looking into the affair.

          • Catherine, the Liberals did take to the idea of a committee study like a dog to a pork chop. That does not mean it was the most effective way to clear Mr. Zytaruk’s name and reputation.

            We’ve had plenty of examples lately where Liberals put their own interests ahead of the public interest, so there’s no point getting indignant to a New Democrat that the NDP somehow didn’t follow the Liberal lead like it ought to have.

  5. This is just an NDP ploy to have the whole issue before the courts so that no-one can comment on it, and if an election were called the Liberals would not be able to use the tape. Too bad the NDP were so obstructionist last time when they could have helped Mr. Zytaruk but that would have meant assisting the Liberals so Mr. Zytaruk was out of luck. Work to have it before the Ethics and Justice Committees.

  6. I guess it’s up to the NDP to carry the flag on this one, since the Liberals and Conservatives aren’t talking about it.
    I, for one, hope they keep it up, and that Comartis isn’t just musing aloud, only to let the issue die.
    And I agree with knick……where do I send my $20?

    • the NDP will side with anybody if it suits them as well.

  7. Hmm….political vote buying for the NDP? Where were they when this all came up in the first place and why did they not want a committee hearing on this then?

  8. I have an idea how about foregoing some fees if anyone actually believes in this non sense.

  9. I don’t think the statute of limitations in BC for this kind of thing is very long. Zytaruk may already be out of luck, and it’s not like he didn’t know this was going on at the time.

    • I thought it was two years. It has been more than a year, but less than two.

      • that might very well be the case. I had thought the original conservative allegations had been made much farther in the past.

  10. i asked the same thing about the consevative “in and out” scandal 2 elections ago; you see, close scrutiny would have shown that the NDP benefitted indirectly since the conservatives advertised in places where they were a distant third to the NDP and Liberals. the NDP weren’t hollering for justice then either.

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