EDMONTON — The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has filed a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against an unidentified blogger, an Ontario politician and an Edmonton woman who is well-known on social media.
Lockout of striking home care workers declared illegal by labour board
The lawsuit has been filed against Edmonton’s Kathleen Smith — known to her 13,000 广州蒲友 followers as @KikkiPlanet — Hamilton’s Jason Tucker, who is currently seeking the federal Conservative Party nomination in the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding, and a blogger, who is only known as Jane Doe in the Statement of Claim.
“I feel it’s an attempt to silence me from advocating for my friends at Artspace who have been caught up in this labour dispute since May of this year,” Smith told Global News Saturday.
The lawsuit, which was filed in late August, claims each defendant made “false and defamatory statements” about the AUPE.
The lawsuit claims the statements were made in relation to an ongoing strike at Edmonton’s Artspace Housing Co-operative. Supports for Artspace Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) is an Alberta corporation that employs AUPE members to provide home care services for some Artspace residents.
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The Statement of Claim outlines 19 of Smith’s tweets from Aug. 7 and 8, which the union claims “clearly intended, either directly or by innuendo” that union members violated the provincial Labour Relations Code.
One of Smith’s tweets listed in the Statement of Claim says “there are countless videos showing your members threatening and harassing residents. The jig is up.”
“What I’ve seen has been disturbing; there’s been air raid sirens at early morning hours, there’s been use of a blow horn to yell at residents and intimidate them,” Smith added Saturday.
Ian Young, a nine-year resident at Artspace, says he already had post-traumatic stress disorder when the labour dispute began. He says he had to leave the residence for two weeks because he felt unsafe in his home.
“I’ve seen them harass a lot of disabled persons and that’s coming from some of the former workers here,” he said, “foul language, racism. I’ve heard words that I will never repeat.”
The union outlines four statements allegedly published by Tucker on his website on Aug. 18. The AUPE claims his statements were also “false and defamatory.” In the post, Tucker stated that housing cooperative residents were being “held hostage” in their homes by picketing union members.
The Statement of Claim lists Doe, the unidentified blogger, as a resident of Artspace whose blog has outlined the ongoing labour dispute.
“When we see people who have been an integral part of our community, some for more than 10 years, suddenly out on a picket line, engaging in verbal abuse, intimidation, racism, sexism and able-ism and other forms of misconduct on the picket line, it was quite the betrayal,” the blog reads.
The AUPE claims it has been “injuriously affected in character and reputation as an organization, and has suffered damages.”
The AUPE is seeking $500,000 in general and aggravated damages.
Statements of claim contain allegations not proven in court.
A Statement of Defence has not yet been filed.
*Editor’s note: Global News reached out to the AUPE for comment on the lawsuit, but was referred to the Statement of Civil Claim. People on the front line also declined comment.
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.