Like a rock: Liberal candidate refusing to back down in face of lawsuit threat

In the face of accusations of slander and liable, the Red Deer-Lacombe Liberal candidate is standing by statements the MP should return money raised during a visit from Mike Duffy.

In the face of accusations of slander and liable, the Red Deer-Lacombe Liberal candidate is standing by statements the MP should return money raised during a visit from Mike Duffy.

Last week, Liberal candidate Jeffrey Rock received a cease-and-desist letter from lawyer Craig Paterson, of Ponoka, on behalf of Blaine Calkins, the Conservative candidate for the Red Deer-Lacombe riding. The letter demands Rock to retract statements in a Sept. 12 press release.

The letter goes on to threaten legal action if the statements are not retracted.

“It’s intended to silence me and to bully me,” said Rock. “I will not allow either to happen.

“I haven’t said anything that’s not public record and isn’t true.”

In the Sept. 12 press release, Rock called on Calkins to return $4,185 to Canadian taxpayers or donate the money to charity. The money was raised at an Oct. 13, 2009, Conservative riding association fundraiser, which included embattled Conservative senator Mike Duffy.

The letter from Paterson calls the accusation that the fundraising done by Duffy for Calkins “was somehow wrong and as such Calkins engaged in inappropriate behaviour by allowing Mr. Duffy’s [sic] to fundraise on his behalf slander and liablass [sic].”

The statement from Rock points to Duffy’s diary, entered as evidence at his trial, showing he often collected a Senate per diem while attending more than 45 fundraising events.

“This is a blatant attempt to tie Calkins to Duffy’s legal issues where not [sic] such connection exists and in the process slander Calkins and his constituently [sic] association.”

“I’ve asked him to return to money to taxpayers or donate it to charity,” said Rock. “I asked him to do that two weeks ago and instead he decided to send me a cease and desist letter.”

Mike Duffy headlined a Oct. 13, 2009, Wetaskiwin Conservative Association fundraising dinner held at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. Tickets to the event were $75 in advance or $100 at the door.

Calkins has been the MP of the Wetaskiwin riding for about nine years. Ridings in Central Alberta changed for the 2015 federal election, with the northern half of Red Deer and a significant portion of the former Wetaskiwin riding combined into a new district.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com