Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MP being sued by telemarketing firm apologizes again

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OTTAWA -- Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin issued his second apology in as many months to a telemarketing firm Monday.

Martin delivered the statement on Parliament Hill in response to a $5-million lawsuit from RackNine Inc., an Edmonton-based firm that delivered automated telephone calls on behalf of numerous Conservative candidates during the 2011 election.

RackNine is also the firm hired by the elusive "Pierre Poutine," the person behind robocalls in Guelph, Ont., which told voters their polling station had changed.

Elections Canada has said RackNine is co-operating with the investigation and is not suspected of being part of the scam.

However, the company said Martin defamed it and its CEO, Matt Meier, during news conferences and television appearances in February, when Martin insinuated RackNine was part of the problem.

RackNine launched a $5-million defamation suit against Martin and the NDP as a result. Martin's apology comes to avoid that lawsuit.

"I now know that the statements I made insinuating Mr. Meier's and RackNine's participation in an electoral-fraud conspiracy were wholly and unequivocally false," he said. "In my rush to express my personal outrage and the outrage of the NDP caucus, I jumped to conclusions I now know are unsupported by fact. I would like to take this opportunity to correct several of my errors in order to clear Mr. Meier's personal reputation along with the business reputation of RackNine."

Martin's apology to Meier and RackNine does not clear up the lawsuit against him.

"We feel the apology is long overdue," Justin Matthews, Meier's lawyer, wrote in an email. "Defamation on this mass scale is thankfully a rare thing and it remains to be seen whether my client can get his life and business back to where it was prior to the many damaging statements made by Martin and the NDP.

"An apology alone does not resolve the lawsuit."

In March, Martin issued an apology to Thunder Bay telemarketing company Responsive Marketing Group. That apology came via a statement on Martin's website.

Elections Canada continues to investigate the robocall saga.

-- staff, with files from The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2012 A6

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