WINNIPEG -- Former federal Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes has sued federal cabinet minister Peter Kent, the Canadian Jewish Congress, B’Nai Brith of Canada and four senior members of the two Jewish organizations.
Hughes says in a lawsuit filed June 16 in Court of Queen’s Bench the defendants made untrue and defamatory accusations Hughes is anti-Semitic and, as a result, former federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion revoked Hughes’ candidacy in the Kildonan-St. Paul federal riding in September of 2008.
The defendants have not filed statements of defence, and Hughes’ allegations made in her statement of claim have not been heard or proven in court.
Hughes acknowledges in her lawsuit she published an article in 2002 in a Winnipeg community newspaper, subsequently posted on a United Church of Canada website, in which she explored claims made by Internet sites about the 9/11 attacks the previous year — particularly Internet allegations Israeli businesses vacated the World Trade Center a week before the attack, and that German intelligence had allegedly warned U.S., Israeli and Russian intelligence about the impending attacks.
Hughes says senior members of the two Jewish organizations went to Dion on Sept. 25, 2008, cited the six-year-old article, and persuaded Dion to revoke her candidacy on the grounds she was anti-Semitic and unfit for public office.
She says Kent, then a Tory candidate and now minister of state for foreign affairs (Americas), issued a news release on Sept. 26, 2008, in which Kent said Hughes holds "extreme, anti-Israel 9/11 conspiracy theories" and was "unfit to serve for public office."
Hughes, who stated she is a freelance journalist/broadcaster, said the accusations against her were widely published and broadcast. Hughes said she "has been branded as an anti-Semite and a person of unsavoury character and, as a result, is no longer employable in her role as a freelance journalist/broadcaster."
Hughes said she has been shunned, scorned and ridiculed, and has suffered mental distress and humiliation.
Hughes said all accusations against her were untrue. She has not specified the damages she is seeking.
A senior official with the Winnipeg office of B’Nai Brith Canada was unaware Monday of Hughes’ lawsuit, and was not aware whether the organization has been served yet with the statement of claim.
Officials at B’Nai Brith Canada’s national office in Toronto could not be reached.
Kent could not be reached at his Ottawa office.
Meanwhile, in a separate and unrelated matter, Hughes filed a lawsuit June 2 against the Forks Renewal Corporation, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, North Portage Development Corporation and North Portage Theatre Corporation.
Hughes alleges that on June 3, 2007, she fell on a staircase at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People at 2 Forks Market Rd., suffered personal injuries and faces permanent physical impairment.
The allegations have not been heard in court.