Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City threatens legal action against CUPE attack ad

Letter asks for halt to its airing; union says assertions are valid

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The City of Winnipeg has threatened to take legal action against its largest union for airing what the mayor's office calls a "false and defamatory" attack ad.

On Friday, the city sent the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 a letter asking that the union immediately stop airing the 30-second ad titled For Sale and "retract the false information." If the union does not comply, the city says it will consider any and all legal action available, including an action for defamation.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said the city has retained independent legal counsel to handle this file.

"No entity should go out to the public and lie to them and defame people," the mayor said.

CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson said he has challenged Katz to demonstrate any falsehoods in the ad.

"We stand by our statements and we refuse to be intimidated by his threats," Davidson said.

The ad features animation that shows the letters of "Winnipeg" getting chopped up, sucked into a vacuum and sent down a drain. The ad alleges Katz and city council are selling off infrastructure, "want to privatize parks, golf courses and arenas and have sold garbage collection to private companies headquartered in Ontario and the U.S."

The ad also erroneously maintains "the city handed management of our water to a company in France." That claim appears to be a reference to the city's sewage-treatment consulting contract with Veolia Canada.

The ad also describes a proposed swap of land below a new fire-paramedic station for three pieces of city property as a council attempt to "sell fire halls to their friends."

The attack ad launched Oct. 31 and CUPE 500's website says it will continue to air through November.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2012 A5

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