Calgary

NDP forced to apologize to former UCP candidate for inaccurate news release

Cyndy Morin launched a $650,000 lawsuit after the NDP sent a news release in August 2018 that accused Morin of accepting illegal corporate donations for her campaign and which implicated her law firm.

Cyndy Morin sought $650,000 for a news release that accused her of accepting illegal corporate donations

NDP leader Rachel Notley launches the provincial campaign in March. Months before, her party sent a news release that led to a defamation lawsuit. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

A former United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary has received a written apology from the NDP, ending a defamation lawsuit against the current opposition for comments it made prior to the provincial election. 

Cyndy Morin launched a $650,000 lawsuit after the NDP sent a news release in August 2018 that accused Morin of accepting illegal corporate donations for her campaign and which implicated her law firm. 

Morin, who was running to be the candidate in Calgary-Fish Creek, dropped out of the race shortly after. Her statement of claim says her withdrawal was in order to fight the allegations in the news release. 

"They expressly stated that Morin, known by the NDP to be a lawyer, had committed illegal acts and offences contrary to statute, thereby impugning Morin's honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and character both as an individual and as a lawyer," reads her statement of claim. 

The election commissioner also started an investigation as a result of the NDP complaint against Morin, and in her statement of claim she says she was interviewed by an investigator. 

An October 2018 letter from that office, which Morin posted on her Facebook page, cleared her of any wrongdoing.

Morin told CBC News on Friday that there was no way she could mount an effective campaign to become the UCP candidate with the accusations and the investigation hanging over her head. 

"There was no way I was going to win that nomination when I was being smeared as being somebody who took kickbacks," she said.

NDP apology

On July 31, the NDP sent her an official apology.

"On August 10, 2018, the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) published incorrect statements regarding Cyndy Morin, a former United Conservative Party candidate for Calgary-Fish Creek and Resolve Legal Group," reads the letter. 

"The NDP acknowledges that the Election Commissioner determined that no election offense was committed by Ms. Morin or Resolve Legal Group. The NDP apologizes to Ms. Morin and Resolve Legal Group for any harm or embarrassment that was caused by these comments."

Morin was seeking punitive damages and costs of the legal action in addition to the $650,000.

Her lawyer, Jonathan Denis, said the terms of the settlement preclude him from saying whether there was a financial payout in the case. 

Disappointed in letter

Morin says she's happy the case is over and that she's been absolved of any wrongdoing, but says she is disappointed the apology letter wasn't signed.

"I do feel like Rachel Notley, as head of the NDP, is hiding behind the unsigned letter with no real accountability," said Morin on Friday. 

"So my preference would have been to have had this apology letter signed by her. As you can see, it's not signed by anyone. It's just on the NDP letterhead."

Morin says despite the experience, she is interested in putting her name forward in the next provincial election. 

"I feel that this smear tactic that was used against me, especially during the heat of an election, is one of the reasons that good people get deterred from running for office, especially women," she said.

"And quite frankly I think the NDP should be embarrassed and ashamed of their smear tactics that they used during the election." 

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca. Signal contact upon request. CBC Secure Drop: www.cbc.ca/securedrop/

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