Danny Williams defends filing defamation lawsuits

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is defending his lawsuits against an environmental group and a political blogger.

Williams and mining company Alderon are suing Sierra Club Canada, its spokesman Bruno Marcocchio, and blogger Brad Cabana for statements made during VOCM radio call-in programs.

Williams says he won't tolerate what he believes are defamatory statements.

"Now that I am in public life, if anybody gets out and basically makes a statement about me that is untrue, that's libelous, that's malicious, that's defamatory — as, you know, these statements were — then I am not going to put up with it," Williams said.

"So I just basically said, you know, if you want to get out and you want to take that kind of an action then be prepared to defend it in a court of law."

Williams was asked about the lawsuits at a press conference Monday for the AHL hockey team of which he is now president and CEO, the St. John's IceCaps. He had previously declined comment to CBC News.

Williams joined the board of directors of Alderon earlier this year.

The Quebec-based mining company is working to develop the Kami iron ore property, which is located next to the mining towns of Wabush, Labrador City and Fermont, Que.

The comments in question relate to the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

In court papers obtained by the CBC, the plaintiffs alleged that Marcocchio, on behalf of Sierra Club Canada, made defamatory statements during VOCM's "Backtalk" radio program, agreeing on live radio that the plaintiffs were "a bunch of corporate psychopaths ... who stand to make millions by pulling this deal off."

Williams and Alderon also alleged that Brad Cabana — a political blogger who was disqualified from a run to replace Williams as Tory leader — made false and defamatory allegations online and on the same radio program.

The defendants have said they don't understand why the suits were filed.

Sierra Club officials said they have apologized in writing twice for alleged defamatory comments on VOCM talk radio, as requested by lawyers for Williams and Alderon.

The environmental group has denied that other comments made by Marcocchio were defamatory, noting that two of them were actually made by the VOCM host.

Cabana has said the legal action looks to him like a “SLAPP suit, a suit that's used to silence critics."

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