Councillor sued for defamation
By Cat George - Peninsula News Review
Published: August 05, 2008 1:00 PM
Claim filed against North Saanich councillor
A member of the Peninsula Recreation Commission is suing Peter Chandler, a North Saanich councillor, the Peninsula News Review has learned.
The statement of claim filed with the BC Supreme Court names Donald Hunter, a recreational consultant who sits on the PRC as the citizen representative for the district of North Saanich, in a defamation suit against Chandler.
In the statement, two separate incidents are mentioned, in which, it states, Chandler “falsely and maliciously spoke and published of and concerning the plaintiff [Hunter].” In particular, it accuses Chandler of saying “Don Hunter has a conflict of interest” and “I am going to go to his professional association about his ethics,” on April 22, 2008, and “ … if I was Don Hunter I would have a problem with my ethics …” on June 1, 2008, among other comments.
The second incident also, according to the statement of claim, included a comment which involved district of North Saanich Mayor Ted Daly: “Don Hunter applied for this position and we brought him on Ted Daly’s recommendation, neither one informed anyone of the prior conflict …”
Chandler’s statements were understood to mean, according to the claim, that Hunter, as a volunteer member of the PRC, had willfully and unethically hidden a conflict of interest and sought to profit from said conflict, and that his decisions as a member of the PRC were influenced by his own financial interests. The statements were also understood to mean, according to the claim, that “the plaintiff was a dishonest and despicable person.”
“The statements were false and malicious at the time of their being made and remain wholly false in substance,” the claim reads, adding that Chandler “knew, or ought to have known,” that Hunter was not in conflict of interest. It accuses Chandler of making the statements to discredit Hunter’s position on a number of issues considered by the PRC, and making the listed statements recklessly. No information is given in the statement of claim about what forum Chandler made the statements in, or to whom. Chandler’s position as a councillor is, however, mentioned: “The Defendant published the statements knowing that his position as a councillor … would give added weight to the statements.”
The suit involves Hunter claiming punitive damages from Chandler on the basis that Hunter has been “injured in his credit, character and reputation.” Hunter is represented in the suit by Sidney-based lawyer Nick Lott, of the firm McKimm & Lott.
Hunter was previously the General Manager of Parks, Recreation and Culture for the City of Surrey; he retired in 2002 and is now a recreation consultant living in North Saanich. As the case is now before the courts, his lawyer, Lott, said he could not give any further details about the claim.
Chandler, a first-term councillor with the district of North Saanich, is not a member of the Peninsula Recreation Commission. He did not return calls by press time.