The National Council of Canadian Muslims demands apology from Harper, chief spokesman over ‘terrorist’ comment

Muslim group demands apology from Harper, chief spokesman over ‘terrorist’ comment by Stephen Chase, January 28, 2014, The Globe and Mail
A national Muslim organization is demanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper publish a retraction and apology on his government website for a chief spokesman’s comments that the group says linked them to terrorists. The National Council of Canadian Muslims has filed a notice of libel saying they intend to sue Mr. Harper and Prime Minister’s Office director of communications Jason MacDonald for comments he made to Sun News earlier this month.

On January 18, the PMO spokesman, dismissing comments from the Muslim group about the makeup of Mr. Harper’s Middle-East trip delegation, had said: “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”

Mr. Harper is named as a defendant in the threatened suit because, the council says, Mr. MacDonald “was acting as the representative and under the direction” of the Prime Minister.

Mr. MacDonald could not be immediately reached for comment. “As this matter may be the subject of litigation, we have no further comment,” PMO press secretary Stephen Lecce said.

The Muslim council’s executive director Ihsaan Gardee said his group has no ties to Hamas. “By maliciously attacking [the council] instead of addressing the substance of our legitimate concerns, the PMO is trying to intimidate and silence dissenting voices,” he said in a statement. “It is undemocratic and goes against everything Canadians expect from a responsible government.”

The National Council Of Canadian Muslims alleges the PMO comments were deliberate. “The Government of Canada has designated Hamas as a listed terrorist entity. The defamatory words were stated maliciously in order to discredit and insult an organization that did nothing other than exercise its constitutional right to freedom of expression to criticize a decision made by the Prime Minister.” [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Alberta Energy Regulator given immunity in frac suit, OK for regulator to violate constitutional rights of Canadians; ‘I have no choice but to appeal’, says Jessica Ernst

How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst, In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater The ERCB legal defense brief also portrays Ernst as an “ecoterrorist” and says it ceased all communication with her out of concern of violence in [2005] after Ernst made an offhand comment about “the Wiebo Way.”

Wiebo Ludwig was a northern Alberta landowner who orchestrated a unprecedented campaign of industrial sabotage against the oil and gas industry in the late 1990s after five years of civil complaints and little regulatory response. Since then hundreds of landowners in Alberta and British Columbia have made comments about “the Wiebo Way.”

A legal brief submitted by Ernst’s lawyers argue that the ERCB’s allegations are not supported by public evidence and amount to character assassination.

A transcript of a taped conversation with an ERCB lawyer read and heard by this reporter seems to contradict the contents of this ERCB brief. In 2006 a board lawyer admitted to Ernst and a witness that the agency had no real safety concerns with Ernst, but disliked her public criticism of the board because it had become “humiliating.”

“The ERCB takes the prejudicial, vexatious, unsupported and wholly unsupportable position that the ‘expression’ the Plaintiff seeks to protect was a ‘threat of violence’ and that the ERCB ceased communication with Ms. Ernst ‘in order to protect its staff, the Alberta public and the Alberta oil and gas industry from further acts of eco-terrorism.’ This is a prejudicial and irresponsible accusation that is entirely without foundation.”

Adds the brief: “If the ERCB wishes to advance its patently absurd and irresponsible theory that Ms. Ernst’s offhand reference to Wiebo Ludwig was somehow a ‘threat of violence,’ and that an appropriate response to ‘protect against further acts of eco-terrorism’ was to cease communication with the Plaintiff, it must do so by forwarding cogent evidence. The ERCB has not, and frankly cannot, put forward such evidence.”

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