And so begins the countdown to an eleventh hour attempt by Team Harper – now minus one of the best defamation lawyers in Canada – to make this case go away:
Harper lawyer withdraws from defamation suit against Liberals in Cadman bribe case
Juliet O’Neill , Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008
OTTAWA – Lawyer Richard Dearden withdrew Monday from representing Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his $3.5 million defamation case against the Liberals for alleging that he knew of an attempted bribe of the late Independent MP Chuck Cadman.
Dearden confirmed that he informed the court and Liberal party counsel Chris Paliare of his decision to withdraw from the case during a teleconference call Monday with Justice Charles Hackland.
Dearden, counsel with the Gowlings law firm, declined to cite his reasons, saying that is privileged information.
Paliare said Dearden did not state the reasons during the conference call. But he said there are generally two grounds on which lawyers withdraw from a case.
One is if they are not paid, which is inconceivable in this case. The other is if there is a breakdown in the lawyer-client relationship which makes it inappropriate for the lawyer to continue the work.
A few hours after the morning call, both lawyers were notified that lawyer David Wingfield at Weir Foulds was hired to represent Harper. […]
UPDATE: The Globe and Mail has more:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s lawyer in the Chuck Cadman defamation case stepped down on Monday, leaving the Liberals suggesting Richard Dearden may have been unable to get answers from his high-profile client.
Mr. Harper is suing the Liberals for defamation over allegations Conservatives attempted to bribe the late independent MP Chuck Cadman before a key vote in 2005.
“I don’t remember in the annals of history anybody firing the Prime Minister as a client, but that seems to be what happened,” said Chris Paliare, the lawyer representing the Liberal Party. […]
The lawyer for the Liberals said Mr. Dearden was behind schedule in providing the Liberals with required documents.
Among the items the Liberals were waiting for Mr. Dearden to produce were details of a four-hour meeting in early 2008 in which Mr. Harper discussed the issue with his senior communications staff.
Mr. Paliare said earlier evidence in court suggested the meeting was attended by such senior aides as Sandra Buckler, his former director of communications, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen and Ryan Sparrow, the lead spokesman for the Conservative Party.
As the Conservative defamation case works its way through the process, testimony from experts and from those directly involved in the events in question has at times led critics to question the official Conservative version of what occurred. […]
SURELY JUST A COINCIDATE:
From the bio page for the PM’s new lawyer, David R. Wingfield:
[…] Public Interest Litigation
Represented The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (the former Prime Minister of Canada) in his action against the well-known author Peter C. Newman arising out of his unauthorized biography of Mr Mulroney.
Acted for a prominent author in the civil action brought against him by the Attorney General of Ontario arising out of his publication of a book about a notorious serial murder that used information from the police investigation without permission.
Represented the Government of Ontario on a public Inquiry (the Estey Inquiry) held to investigate the circumstances of a riot between a public sector union and the police outside of the Legislative Assembly. […]
Okay, I get how defending an author – even the author of a book about “a notorious serial murder” – against the action of the state, and representing the (Conservative, at the time, as it happens) Ontario government over its handling of a union demonstration outside the legislature that degenerated into a riot could conceiveably be described as “public interest litigation” (although in the latter case, it takes on a slightly Orwellian hue). But going after Peter C. Newman on Brian Mulroney’s behalf? That seems like a bit of a stretch.