Daily News’ lawsuit response ‘hypocritical’
Re: (‘Strauss files lawsuit against Daily News, doctor,’ Sept. 13):
So, the Kamloops Daily News and retired doctor Russ Reid are being sued for defamation by the Strauss Herb Company of Kamloops for a Daily News column penned by Reid called Reid: It has an NPN, but it’s snake oil.
NPN means natural product number.
Being sued for defamation is an occupational hazard in the publishing business.
The Daily News is vigorously defending. I would expect nothing less.
The newspaper says the statements were true.
It says that, if they weren’t true, then they were fair comments made on matters of public interest and the public has a right to read those fair comments, while the newspaper has a right to print them.
Newspapers are, by definition, champions of free speech. One of their purposes is to foster debate on public issues.
We have in Canada a constitutional right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press.
What surprises me, though, is that Daily News publisher Tim Shoults and Reid are counterclaiming, seeking a court injunction to prevent Strauss from publicly advertising that its Heart Drops have “a proven, medicinal and therapeutic efficacy.”
They seek to enforce the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
The purveyor of free speech is seeking a court order to suppress another’s right to speak. How hypocritical.
The Kamloops Daily News has assumed the role of policeman. It seeks to speak for all consumers.
Apparently, leaving Consumer Protection BC to enforce its own legislation — if it thought Strauss was in contravention — is not sufficient.
These defendants have adopted the tactic, as many do, that “the best defence is a good offence.”
The Daily News has lost sight of the unique position the press holds in our society. The press is to remain independent. It is to report on the game, not be a player in it.
By seeking an injunction against Strauss, the Daily News has lost sight of its role as neutral commentator.
It rings hollow for the Daily News to speak out of both sides of its mouth — to say it is merely a disinterested conduit for public discussion, but also to say it wants to enforce provincial laws against a corporate citizen of Kamloops.