Retired officer sues Heed
for defamation

Alleged comments by Solicitor-General
relate to handling of drunk-driving probe

Robert Matas, Globe and Mail, Dec. 8, 2009


B.C. Solicitor-General Kash Heed has been sued for defamation over alleged comments about a police officer who conducted an internal disciplinary hearing of an officer convicted of drunk driving.

Retired police officer Bob Fontaine alleges in his statement of claim that Mr. Heed and West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones made defamatory and malicious comments about him in November, 2008, that implied he was attempting to avoid a hearing into a complaint about the investigation.

The claim says the statements were made “in a deliberate and calculated manner, as a means of promoting themselves politically, both in their careers in provincial and municipal politics and with the public, for the purposes of forthcoming elections at the municipal and provincial level.”

Mr. Heed was chief of the West Vancouver Police Department in November, 2008, but was involved in discussions with members of the B.C. Liberal Party about running in the May, 2009, provincial election, the lawsuit states. Ms. Goldsmith-Jones was running for re-election as mayor in the civic election on Nov. 15, 2008.

The allegations set out in a six-page statement of claim were filed in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday and have not yet been tested in court. Earlier this fall, retired staff sergeant Doug Bruce, who carried out the internal disciplinary hearing with Mr. Fontaine, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Heed and Ms. Goldsmith-Jones, citing similar allegations.

Mr. Fontaine and Mr. Bruce investigated the conduct of Constable Lisa Alford after she crashed into a car on Nov. 26, 2005. She pleaded guilty to drunk driving. Media reports at the time stated that her blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner initiated an investigation into the work of the two police officers in response to a complaint that they failed to mention in their report that Constable Alford had been drinking at the police station with other officers before her arrest, local media reports said.

Mr. Fontaine states in the court document he was placed on medical leave in September, 2007, as a result of “situational and anxiety and depression related to workplace stress.” Over the next 14 months, the complaints commissioner’s hearing was rescheduled four times. The comments from Mr. Heed and Ms. Goldsmith Jones that are alleged to be defamatory came after the fourth delay.

Mr. Heed would not comment on a matter that is before the courts, a spokesman for the Solicitor-General said yesterday. The West Vancouver Mayor was unavailable yesterday to respond to Mr. Fontaine’s filing of the lawsuit, her executive assistant, Stephanie Kiernan, said.

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