Green MLA Sonia Furstenau sued over soil site comments


Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau is being sued for defamation for comments she allegedly made during a rally against a contaminated soil dump. 

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Michael Kelly and Martin Block, the president and vice-president of Cobble Hill Holdings, filed the suit in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday. Cobble Hill Holdings is the owner of a Shawnigan Lake quarry used as a landfill for contaminated soil.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

The suit alleges that Furstenau “falsely and maliciously spoke” about Kelly and Block during a rally on the legislature lawns in front of hundreds, on or around March 15, 2015.

The rally took place before Furstenau was elected to the B.C. legislative assembly, while she was a director of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The suit claims the speech seriously injured the businessmen’s character, credit and reputation, and caused them damages.

It alleges that Furstenau did not request a meeting with the men before making the speech and that she made the speech for political gain.

Kelly and Block are seeking general damages, special damages, punitive damages, aggravated damages, removal of the speech from Furstenau’s website, a public apology and special costs.

Furstenau has 21 days to respond to the civil claim. Her office said Friday afternoon that she had not received notice of the claim. She declined to comment, saying the matter is before the courts.

In a text message Friday, Kelly said he and Block have experienced damages as a result of Furstenau’s comments.

Furstenau, “over the past several years, has made statements regarding myself, my partner and our companies, that we feel are damaging to us as businessmen, and we look forward to correcting the records in the courts,” Kelly said.

Cobble Hill Holdings filed a separate suit in August against the province and former environment minister Mary Polak, the Liberal MLA for Langley.

In February, while environment minister, Polak cancelled the permit that allowed Cobble Hill Holdings to receive and store soil at its former rock quarry, upstream of Shawnigan Lake. Polak said the company failed to meet a government deadline for an irrevocable letter of credit that would serve as a financial security.

In that suit, Cobble Hill Holdings said the government had not specified any form or amount for that credit and had not approved the plans that would have been the basis of the financial guarantee.

As of Friday afternoon, no statement of defence had been filed.

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