Robocalls lawsuit about justice, not money, says Council of Canadians

Executive Director of the Council of Canadians Garry Neil



OTTAWA - Lawyers for a left-wing advocacy group rejected claims Tuesday that it stood to gain financially in its robocalls case against the Conservative government.

Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton accused the Council of Canadians of fundraising more than it needs for legal costs and asked that the case be thrown out under 'champerty and maintenance' - where a third party sponsors a lawsuit to share in the profits.

On the second day of what is expected to be a week-long hearing into complaints of robocalls made during the 2011 federal election, the lawyer for the Council of Canadians (COC), Peter Engelmann, said that argument was a misrepresentation of the case, and added that if it wasn't for third-party funding, many Canadians would not have access to justice.

"This is truly public interest litigation," Englemann said.

Engelmann told the court champerty and maintenace did not apply to the case because the COC is not seeking any profits and will not share in any profits gleaned through the lawsuit.

The Council's executive director, Garry Neil, also pointed out the fundraising is nowhere close to covering the costs of the lawsuit as it stands, anyway.

"The Council is supporting this case because it's about democracy, not cash cows," he said. "The legal costs ... have far outstripped fundraising."

Those costs for the Council of Canadians are expected to top $600,000 by the end of the week. Fundraising has so far netted about $300,000.

The hearing continues.

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