Arthur Kent faces off against Postmedia as libel trial begins
Kent claims article injured his reputation, character and credibility
Veteran war correspondent Arthur Kent and Canada's largest newspaper chain are facing off in a Calgary courtroom as a prolonged libel lawsuit heads to trial.
Kent — who was nicknamed the "Scud Stud" for his reporting for an American network during the Persian Gulf War — is suing Postmedia Network among others over an article written during his bid for a seat as a Progressive Conservative in the 2008 Alberta election.
In 2008, then-National Post columnist Don Martin wrote an article about Kent's campaign in the riding of Calgary-Currie. In the column, he referred to the internationally-known war correspondent as the Scud Dud.
Kent's statements of claim say he was described in the column as having an oversized ego and an unorganized and incompetent campaign.
Kent claims that article injured his reputation, character and credibility.
Martin is named in the lawsuit, along with the National Post, the Calgary Herald, their former owner, Canwest, and their current owner, Postmedia.
In their statements of defence, they deny the allegations. They cite their right to freedom of expression, among other defences.
In a packed courtroom on Monday, Kent's legal team called their first witness.
Vicky Gardiner, a former campaign volunteer, says she was "stunned" when she read Martin's article.
On Tuesday, Kent's counsel will call four more witnesses, all of whom were volunteers on Kent's campaign.
Emily Laidlaw specializes in media law and teaches at the University of Calgary.
She's curious about whether the court will view the article as fair comment.
"What's interesting about defamation law in Canada compared to countries such as the United States is that the burden is in fact on the defendant to prove the truth of their comments as a defence," Laidlaw said.
The six-person jury trial is expected to last a month.
- Read the statement of claim and the statement of defence: