CALGARY — A prominent Calgary lawyer who has admitted she leaked damaging information about a former television journalist running for a seat in the Alberta legislature is set to testify at a defamation trial today.
Arthur Kent, 61, alleges Postmedia, the National Post and former columnist Don Martin defamed him when he was campaigning to win the constituency of Calgary Currie for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2008 provincial election.
Kent, who was known as the "Scud Stud'' from his days reporting on the Gulf War, suffered a narrow defeat after a campaign in which a piece by Martin ran under the headline "Alberta's 'Scud Stud' a 'Dud' on Campaign Trail.''
Kristine Robidoux, who worked on Kent's campaign, was suspended for four months by the Law Society of Alberta in May 2014 for disclosing confidential information about her client.
Robidoux, who was unnamed in the column piece, said she forwarded emails to Martin that detailed how Kent was not following the advice of his campaign team.
"Wowzers. It's all bad,'' she wrote, according to the statement of fact entered at the law society hearing.
She said the article turned out worse than she expected.
"After reading the Martin article, I was sick and embarrassed. I believed that the Martin article was unbalanced and wholly negative, thereby leaving a misleading and false impression about Arthur Kent and the campaign,'' she said in the statement of facts.
"However, I did not take any steps to have the Martin article retracted, amended or changed.''
"After reading the Martin article, I was sick and embarrassed." — Kristine Robidoux
The article suggested the Kent campaign was in disarray, that Kent was not co-operating with the party and that a number of key campaign members were threatening to quit.
Robidoux and former party insiders Rod Love and Alan Hallman have since been identified as the unnamed sources in the story.
Mike Skwara, who was a senior member of Kent's campaign, testified Tuesday that Hallman had approached the Kent team at the beginning of the campaign and asked to join as a paid worker.
"We weren't going to be utilizing his services because of his previous reputation, his background with the whole Conservative association. He was sort of a player,'' Skwara told court. "To be honest with you, he's a slimeball. He's just not a nice guy.''
Hallman is also scheduled to testify at the trial. Love died last year.
Postmedia denies the accusations and argues it was practising responsible journalism.
"The media plays an important role in Canadian democracy by informing voters about candidates, their practices, their policies and their actions,'' Postmedia lawyer Scott Watson told court earlier this week.
"Throughout this litigation, our clients have steadfastly believed the Don Martin column is defensible.''
The judge in the case dismissed the jury on Tuesday, ruling an opening statement by Kent's lawyer was too prejudicial.
The trial is now proceeding by judge alone.
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