Mayor Sam Katz says he’s only looking for an apology.
That’s what Katz said he expects from the University of Winnipeg student paper, the Uniter, and the writer of an opinion piece that he claims implies he is a crook.
Katz said he’s learned to live with many of the online character assassinations directed at him but added that the Dec. 4 Uniter article, The local political blunder, crossed the line.
"This has been dragging on for many months. All we’re looking for is basically a retraction and an apology. End of story," Katz said, adding he’s not seeking any financial damages.
Katz filed a statement of claim Jan. 28, seeking unspecified financial damages in connection with the article, written by volunteer writer Josh Benoit, who is not a U of W student. The legal suit also names the University of Winnipeg.
A statement of defence has not been filed. The allegations made by Katz have not been proven in court.
The Uniter article references Katz, property-development company Shindico, ex-city CAO Phil Sheegl, and issues surrounding the construction of four new Winnipeg fire stations and Martha Stewart.
The article also contained an imagined conversation between Katz and Sheegl.
The university told the Free Press that it has no control over the student paper and is not involved in its publication.
Katz said the U of W did write him a letter, stating it did not support the paper or the article.
Katz said he realizes that once the U of W is removed from the situation, he can’t expect Benoit or the student paper to pay a financial penalty.
However, Katz said that doesn’t absolve Benoit or the paper from doing the right thing.
"Any citizen would basically protect themselves from any types of comments that are not accurate and that is why we have the laws," Katz said.
"We all have to live by the same laws. I believe we all would do what we have to do to protect yourself or your family in this type of situation."
This is not the first time Katz has taken legal action to protect his reputation. In December 2006 he sued Corus Entertainment Inc., owner of local radio station CJOB and former news director Vic Grant and later accepted an on-air apology and retraction.
Katz said his lawyer, Robert Tapper, has exchanged correspondence with the Uniter but so far the paper has refused to issue an apology or retraction.