Canadian Boat to Gaza Accuses AMS of Defamation

Last Wednesday, AMS Council decided to conditionally allow the SJC’s $700 donation to SPHR for the Canadian Boat to Gaza. On Thursday, the AMS issued a press release stating that the VP Finance will be conducting the investigation into whether or not the transfer is in any way linked to terrorism, and will bring the results of the investigation back to council for approval. A story in the National Post followed.

Not everyone read the stories with slightly detached bemusement (as I did). Officials from the Canadian Boat to Gaza sent a letter to the AMS claiming that the contents of the AMS’s press release and statements contained in the National Post article “are highly defamatory of the individuals and organizations supporting the CBG.”

While the letter did not contain any explicit threat of legal action, they did ask the following things of the AMS:

  1. A letter of apology to the Canadian Boat to Gaza and associated organizatrons and individuals.
  2. A public statement clearly retracting the accusations and implications that the CBG is or may be linked to and/or financing terrorism and stating that the AMS is not, and was never in possession of any information indicating the existence of such links and activities and that the CBG is a legitimate humanitarian initiative.
  3. That your statement and apology be communicated widely to national and local media and published in the National Post.
  4. That you immediately cease the ‘investigation’ referred to in the AMS motion of December 2 and provide CBG with a full report and documentation of all communications made in the course of the ‘investigation’ to date.

The AMS sent a response respectfully disagreeing with their claims of defamation and explaining the situation from the AMS’s side. The ball is now back in the CBG’s court.

Over at Maclean’s, Justin McElroy (co-ordinating editor of The Ubyssey) has already pointed out how unnecessary and misguided it was for Bijan to issue that press release. If it had remained an internal matter, as it should have, the issue of possible defamation never would have come up. Should the AMS end up with a lawsuit on its hands as a result of this, Bijan could be in very hot water.

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Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. The Press Release Link doesn’t seem to be working.

    Posted by Last Call |
    December 4, 2010, 11:36 pm
  2. Bijan sets up the Society for a lawsuit. And CBG were well within their rights to send their letter. Judging by Bijan’s reply, I wouldn’t be surprised if the AMS is served on Monday.

    Would it not be prudent for him to get his bases covered? Just because CBG won’t win, (according to the lawyers) doesn’t mean it won’t be costly.

    the lawyers say CBG won’t win so we shouldn’t go to court because:

    a) it means when we do go to court, they’ll get paid
    b) if they admit to be unable to represent us, we might look for a different firm

    Why not try to mitigate the situation? Oh right. It’s political, and it’s personal.

    Posted by Michael Haack | December 4, 2010, 11:37 pm
  3. Last Call, it’s fixed now. Sorry about that, there was an errant bracket in the URL.

    Posted by Neal Yonson | December 4, 2010, 11:40 pm
  4. Michael Haack,
    its political and personal? please elaborate.
    bijan set up the society for a lawsuit? how so?
    he just explained the situation. isnt that what one should do?

    who set up the society for a lawsuit? lets see.. how about people who put the blame on Bijan and instead of logically dealing with the issue, start yelling around and screaming that their rights are being taken away from them.

    the whole idea of terrorism did not come directly from Bijan, or the AMS, it came from people who were against the money being sent.

    and Yes Bijan is the AMS president, but really that doesnt mean he can control everyone’s mouth.

    another issue dear, um well you see, as the representative of ALL students, when a group of students arrive and complain about a money being sent to a place or an organization, they have to do a follow up and if those group of students use the word ” terrorism” in their complaint. well then the AMS would have to say that the issue raised was over concerns about terrorism. its NOT as if Bijan directly said that organization is a terrorist organization and i will personally ban this! Him and the other people in the AMS wanted to make sure that both side are happy. the investigation had to be done. in order for both parties to be HAPPY!

    now if bunch of Israelis decide to say ” bijan is the friend of Isreal” or that ” he is protecting us from terrorism”
    or a bunch of Palestinian’s decide to bring in EVERYBODY to scream about their rights and how they have been cheated.
    it doesnt make Bijan the person at fault here.

    Posted by Sara | December 5, 2010, 2:17 am
  5. You know what is also an issue? The fact that a document that was marked “confidential” was released by an AMS Councilor to UBC Insiders.

    If the AMS gets sued as a result of that release, that personal will be personally liable and could get sued by the AMS. Personal or professional, sometimes it’s just not worth it.

    Posted by A Concerned Member of the UBC Community | December 5, 2010, 8:34 am
  6. I’m not an expert on defamation law, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not possible to defame a boat.

    Posted by T | December 5, 2010, 2:31 pm
  7. Have you not read Bijan’s reply to the Canada Boat to Gaza?

    Posted by Michael Haack | December 5, 2010, 5:20 pm
  8. yes i did.

    i am still standing by my point.

    and Michael, if this is soo terrible and Bijan is such a terrible leader, well you could just run for the AMS president soon. i will personally help you get votes so i could just see how you handle these issues.

    its odd, isn’t? sometimes we, humans, just love to sit back and criticize everyone while if we were in the same situation we would probably do the same thing.

    Posted by Sara | December 5, 2010, 5:59 pm
  9. These boats are known to have ties to terrorist organizations. Checking this is a prudent thing to do. Sending out a press release about it brings more attention to an issue that seriously does not need a higher profile.
    Still, I have no idea where the alleged slander in the press release and the national post article are to be found.

    Posted by ubc alum | December 6, 2010, 4:37 am
  10. Known to have terrorist ties? Please show some evidence for this.

    Posted by Student | December 6, 2010, 11:11 am
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