Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mayor seeks apology from U of W student newspaper

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Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has launched a lawsuit over an opinion piece in a student newspaper.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has launched a lawsuit over an opinion piece in a student newspaper. Photo Store

Offer an apology.

That's what Mayor Sam Katz said he expects from the University of Winnipeg student paper, the Uniter, and the writer of an opinion piece 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 the Dec. 4 Uniter article, headlined 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, 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 it has no control over the student newspaper and is not involved in its publication.

Katz said the U of W did write him a letter, stating it did not support the newspaper or the article. Katz said he only reluctantly took legal action against a student newspaper, adding he knows there is not a financial windfall in it for him.

However, Katz said that doesn't absolve Benoit or the paper from doing the right thing.

"It the principle of the law is the law, you can't just say anything," Katz said. "Any citizen would basically protect themselves from any types of comments that are not accurate and that is why we have the laws.

"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.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 6, 2014 B2

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