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February 14, 2006
Kinsella Sues Canadian Blogger

Tom Maguire notes that Warren Kinsella, the self-styled "lawyer, consultant and Liberal Party spin-doctor," has filed a libel suit against Mark Bourrie, the proprietor of the Canadian blog Ottawa Watch. The lawsuit, which Bourrie reproduces on his website, involves two actions on Bourrie's part which Kinsella claims "have brought him into hatred, ridicule and contempt[.]" The suit claims:

4. Mr. Bourrie's entry on Ottawa Watch at 4:15 a.m. on January 14, 2006 read, in part:

And they remember Kinsella was executive assistant to Pulis [sic] Works minister (sic] David "I'm entitled to my entitlements" Dingwall. Kinsella was the guy who foisted Chuck Guite on the bureaucracy. He was a key actor in the sponsorship kickback scandal. And that scandal is about half the reason Paul Martin is on the skids.

Kinsella also accuses Bourrie of editing a Wikipedia entry to further libel him:

13. Mr. Bourric has also taken to vindictive tactics. In particular, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Mr. Bourrie went to the web site which is an on-line encyclopedia that allows viewers to modify entries. The purpose of Wikpedia is to do nothing more than provide readers with relevant background information on various subjects. Mr. Bourrie modified the plaintiff's biography to, inter alia, include the following in relation to the plaintiff's politics.

"Kinsella had his lawyer write a letter threatening libel action against Mark Bourrie, an award-winning; Ottawa Journalist, author and doctoral student, in January 2006, when the journalist published on his blog that Kinsella, when he was a political staffer, was instrumental in the Chretien government's hiring of Chuck Game [note: should be Guité], a key figure in a later political kickback scandal, to run the government's ad system.["]

In regards to the allegation in paragraph 4, it appears that the entire fuss centers on the pronoun he and whether it refers to Guité or to Kinsella. Kinsella argues that Bourrie intended on defaming him as a "major player" in Adscam, but any reasonable reading of the passage appears to clearly reference Guité, not Kinsella, as such. And it isn't as though Kinsella had nothing to do with Adscam or Guité's role in it, although it was more minor. As the Gomery Report notes in one of its seventeen references to Kinsella, he arranged one of the more notorious meetings that made clear that Guité needed to cater to powerful Chrétién cronies (page 284):

As an example of the general impression that Mr. Corriveau was a person of great importance, Mr. Guité recalls an incident in 1994 or 1995 when he was summoned to the office of Mr. Dingwall, then Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, by the latter’s Executive Assistant, Warren Kinsella, who said Mr. Dingwall wanted Mr. Guité to meet someone.2 On arrival, Mr. Dingwall told him that he was going to meet a gentleman named Corriveau who was “a very very close friend of the Prime Minister,” adding, “if ever you find somebody in bed between Jean Chrétien and his wife, it will be Jacques Corriveau,” and that Mr. Guité should “look after him.”This message was repeated on other occasions: “look after this guy” and “look after this firm,” referring to Mr. Corriveau’s business.3

It is interesting to note that when Mr. Guité was introduced to Mr. Corriveau a few minutes later, he was in the company of Jean Lafleur,4 although both Mr. Dingwall and Mr. Kinsella testify that they have never met Mr. Lafleur.5
Mr. Guité has no reason to mislead the Commission about this incident, and his version of it is accepted. It is interesting to speculate about what Mr. Corriveau and Mr. Lafleur may have been discussing, and it is also
interesting to wonder why Mr. Dingwall wanted Mr. Guité to “look after” Mr. Corriveau. Whatever the reasons, Mr. Guité took care to follow Mr. Dingwall’s instructions.6

Nor was that the only effort on Kinsella's part to get Guité more control over advertising monies. On pages 159-161, Gomery reviews a memo that Kinsella wrote trying to throw his weight around and get Guité put in total command of all government communications:

On November 23, 1995, Mr. Kinsella, the Executive Assistant of Mr. Dingwall, who was then Minister of PWGSC, wrote a surprising memorandum to Messrs. Quail and Stobbe, which to be appreciated must be reproduced in full ...

This communication was rightly taken by Mr. Quail to be a highly inappropriate attempt by political staff to interfere in the internal administration of PWGSC, which is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Minister. The reference to unidentified persons in the PCO and PMO gives the impression that the proposed reorganization of government
communications under Mr. Guité was desired by persons at the highest level. To his credit, Mr. Quail resisted the temptation to take offence ...

The matter died there. Mr. Quail decided that Mr. Kinsella’s memo was a mistake by an inexperienced political staffer who did not know better than to attempt to give direction to a senior public servant on how to organize his department. Mr. Dingwall testifies that he does not remember the incident, but assumes that he must have instructed Mr. Kinsella to write the memo.64 As to why he would have wanted Mr. Guité to be given important new responsibilities, the record is unclear.

But we do know that Mr. Guité and his personnel at APORS were given the whole responsibility for the management and administration of the Sponsorship Program when it came into being in the spring of 1996.
Sponsorship contracts were considered by all concerned to be a form of advertising, and were so defined in Appendix Q , and Mr. Guité was the government’s expert in advertising matters.

When CCSB was created in November 1997, it constituted almost exactly the consolidation of functions that had been advocated by Mr. Kinsella two years previously.

In other words, Kinsella stepped way out of line in attempting to order Quail to put Guité in charge of the advertising for the Sponsorship program -- and Guité eventually became one of the major players in the fraud that wiped out millions from Canadian taxpayers. It may not make Kinsella a major player in the controversy, but it hardly follows that tying Kinsella to Guité creates a libelous situation. Perhaps he didn't push to hire Guité, but the Gomery Report shows that Kinsella spent some effort in promoting him for the top spot.

I expect that Kinsella will regret filing this lawsuit. His role in this scandal appears to have flown under the radar until now, and Bourrie's defense will have a field day answering Kinsella with these quotes.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 14, 2006 10:15 PM

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