Dear Ms. Laframboise:

 

Attached to this e-mail please find a response to your e-mail of May 4,

2001.

I have also attached a copy of my notes from our telephone conversation of

March 22nd, 2001.

 

Sincerely,

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Robert G.J. Bouvier E.C.M.A.S. #1327,

bobbouvier@netzero.net Msg: +1 (780) 988-4015 5328 Calgary Trail S.

http://ecmas.net Fax: +1 (780) 988-4015 Edmonton Alberta

ecmas@geocities.com Home: +1 (780) 468-6328 CANADA T6H 4J8

----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Laframboise, Donna [mailto:DLaframboise@nationalpost.com]

Sent: May 4, 2001 10:43 AM

To: 'bobbouvier@netzero.net'

Subject: Ontario Press Council complaint et. al. [This lawsuit-threatening e-mail from the reporter to the president of ECMAS-Edmonton sternly denies various allegations against her in the group's May 1 news release and press-council complaint. But his claim that she had accused me to him of condoning adult-child sexual contact--to us the most serious of ECMAS's charges about her--she nowhere here denies.] [Next]

 

Dear Mr. Bob Bouvier

President, Board of Directors

ECMAS Edmonton

 

 

I am in receipt of:

 

a) your six-page Ontario Press Council complaint

b) your press release dated 1 May 2001

c) an audio recording of a CHIN radio broadcast of you speaking to Mr.

Rutherford

d) various e-mails circulated by members of your board

 

Please be advised that the above documents contain numerous false statements

about me.

 

Please also be advised that libel is a two-way street. If you and/or other

members of your board publicly accuse me of things that are demonstrably

false, you yourselves become vulnerable to a libel action.

 

Outlining all the statements contained in the above documents that merit

vigorous dispute would require multiple pages. For the moment, I will

restrict myself to pointing out these few obvious untruths.

 

1.

 

Your press release describes Ms. Louise Malenfant as "a long-time friend and

collaborator" of mine.

 

I first made Ms. Malenfant's acquaintance when I interviewed her by long

distance telephone in late 1998. I have met her in the flesh only once, in

March 2000, while in Winnipeg covering a story taking place in Brandon.

 

National Post archives document that Ms. Malenfant has been a valuable and

reliable news source for the Post since its inception. In addition to

providing me with exclusive news tips, she has also done this for two other

Post writers.

 

There is ample evidence, in the form of news clippings, that Ms. Malenfant

is skilled at cultivating relationships with other journalists at other

newspapers, as well.

 

E-mail archives document that, despite the cordial relationship I and others

at the Post enjoy with Ms. Malenfant, not all her attempts to interest us in

stories have been successful.

 

Four of the Post 's most senior editors took some part in decisions about

whether the stories about ECMAS Edmonton were newsworthy, when they should

appear in print and how many words long they should be. The Post's libel

lawyer was also consulted. [This is blatantly sophistical. Since ECMAS's complaints were only about the articles' false and incredibly biased content, not length or newsworthiness, the reporter's pointed mention of the four editors makes no sense unless she meant ECMAS to suppose that, in the course of their decision-making, all four of them became aware of and accepted that content.] [Back]

 

In light of the above, an objective trier of fact would likely conclude:

 

a) that your description of the relationship between Ms. Malenfant and

myself is false

 

b) that your allegation that these stories were published due to my

alleged personal friendship with Ms. Malenfant rather than due to the fact

that senior Post editors deemed them newsworthy defames both me and the

Post.

 

 

 

2.

 

You allege, on the fifth page of your complaint, that I "contacted the

leader of the ECMAS branch in distant Calgary."

 

You allege, on the sixth page of your complaint, that I applied "pressure on

the branch of ECMAS in Calgary" and that my "motive in going to them was

evidently not information-gathering."

 

Telephone records will testify as, I expect, will Mr. Mike Laberge, that I

did not initiate contact with ECMAS Calgary. Mr. Laberge called me.

 

Having heard that I was writing a story, he wished to discuss the matter. We

talked about the expected gist of my story as well as the expected

publication date.

 

It was in this context that I inquired about the position of ECMAS Calgary

with respect to these matters. Following this discussion, ECMAS Calgary made

a number of decisions over the next several days, forwarding to me by e-mail

written statements reflecting those decisions.

 

Neither Mr. Laberge nor anyone else involved in ECMAS Calgary has informed

me they feel I behaved inappropriately toward them.

 

In light of the above, an objective trier of fact would likely conclude:

 

a) that your claim that I contacted ECMAS Calgary with unsavoury

motives is false and defamatory

 

b) that, especially due to your absence of firsthand knowledge of my

interactions with ECMAS Calgary, your claim that I conducted myself

inappropriately in regard to that organization is also defamatory

 

 

3.

 

You claim, on page five of your complaint, that I "did not contact either

Mr. Adams or Dr. Christensen to hear their side - they had to approach her."

 

Telephone records will testify that Mr. Adams phoned me less than three

hours after I began making my first exploratory phone calls regarding this

story on Wednesday, 21 March.

 

I would have preferred to have gathered far more information and to have

talked to far more people before conducting my interview with Mr. Adams.

However, telephone records will testify that, out of courtesy, I returned

his call promptly.

 

Prof. Christensen took the initiative and contacted me on Friday, 23 March

via e-mail. However, telephone records will testify that my investigations

into these stories amounted to a few brief hours on Wednesday, 21 March and

that the information gathering process continued well into the following

week.

 

When I replied to Prof. Christensen's e-mail with a list of 13 questions, he

declined to answer. Thus, despite my attempt to interview him, no interview

took place.

 

In light of the above, an objective trier of fact would likely conclude:

 

a) that your claim that I failed to make a good-faith effort to contact

Mr. Adams in a timely fashion in order to hear his side of the story is

false and defamatory

 

b) that your claim that I failed to make a good-faith effort to secure

Prof. Christensen's side of the story in a timely fashion is also false and

defamatory

 

 

Mr. Bouvier, you are hereby advised that you and other ECMAS Edmonton board

members are at serious risk of a libel action highly likely to succeed.

 

It is your duty to ensure that every member of the board of ECMAS Edmonton

receives a copy of this letter.

 

I expect to be informed, no later than Sunday 20 May, about whether you and

your fellow board members:

 

a) intend to withdraw the above untrue allegations from your Ontario

Press Council complaint

 

b) intend to issue a press release announcing the withdrawal of these

untrue allegations from your Ontario Press Council complaint

 

c) are, on an individual basis, prepared to enter into an undertaking

to cease and desist repeating the above untrue allegations in any form, in

future.

 

 

I look forward to your response,

 

Yours truly,

 

 

Donna Laframboise

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Donna Laframboise

The National Post

1450 Don Mills Road, Suite 300

Toronto, Ontario

M3B 3R5

 

phone: 416-383-2374

fax: 416-383-2439

dlaframboise@nationalpost.com

 

 

 

Dear Ms. Laframboise

Columnist and reporter

National Post

 

 

In response to your recent e-mail, please note that when we prepared the press release and our complaint to the Ontario Press Council, we strived to be as complete and factual as possible. It was our intention to once and for all make the truth available to the public. We felt that the misrepresentations in your destructive articles did a great injustice to our organization and to the equal parenting movement in general. It was not our goal to enter into a never-ending, back-and-forth argument on the facts or to be involved in litigation. We consider this whole affair to be an unnecessary waste of time and effort. This effort is not producing any positive contributions to society. We are a volunteer group trying to help others who have been unjustly separated from their children. Assisting others is how we want to spend our volunteer time, not dealing with you or the National Post.

 

You and Ms. Malenfant started us on this road and have forced us into the position that we are presently in. For many, it might have just been simpler to do as you suggested and disassociate ourselves from Dr. Christensen and Mr. Adams, but that would have been wrong, as we have outlined in our complaint. Almost every person that I know in ECMAS, including Ferrel Christensen and [Tim] Adams, volunteer their time and effort simply for the betterment of others. They are not motivated by publicity, fame or profit. It is too bad that you didn't get the real story about ECMAS. If you had, then you might understand how terribly you have misrepresented our group.

 

We are open to considering other information from you and if we have been found to be in error, we will be happy to correct any misunderstandings.

 

It is too bad that we are at this state. Your actions have caused many people much grief. This did not have to happen. A number of people had warned you of the great disservice your article would have to the movement. A number of people warned you of the impure motivations of Ms. Malenfant. But, in spite of these warnings, you nevertheless wrote your first article and then your second.

 

You make mention of three points in your e-mail message that you take exception to. Besides these three points, please describe what other statements you feel are false and would "warrant vigorous dispute". Since we are looking for clarification and to ultimately close this issue, could you also please confirm the other points that you have not taken exception to? When we have your detailed reply we will consult with our lawyer and decide what to do next. Attached to this e-mail, I have included a copy of my recollections of our telephone conversation that occurred on March 22nd, 2001. Could you please give me a copy of your notes and any tapes that you may have of this conversation?

 

Now, to specifically respond to the three points which you claim to be "obvious" untruths. They were certainly not obvious to us, as we will now explain.

 

 

1. "Long-time friend and collaborator"

 

Ms. Malenfant had personally told me and other ECMAS members that you and she were good friends. Specifically, she told us that the two of you communicate quite often (not just when you're writing a story involving her). One particular incident that I clearly recall is the time when Ms. Malenfant wrote the lyrics for some songs for a candlelight vigil that ECMAS was holding in memory of a father who took his life. I told Ms. Malenfant that I was not too keen on having songs at the vigil and that I thought that some of her lyrics were objectionable. On September 27th, 2000, Ms. Malenfant specifically told me (and others) that she called you up and sang the songs for you, and that you thought they were "a hoot". (She did not mention singing this song to any other newsperson and she has never told us of anyone else in the media who is a personal friend of hers.) Based on what Ms. Malenfant told me (and others), it appeared your relationship was quite a bit more casual than simply a columnist and a "whistle blowing" news source. [Back]

 

We could debate about whether two and a half years can be considered a long time, but I don't think it is worth the effort.

 

The very fact that you took Ms. Malenfant's word uncritically on various subjects, rather than investigating both sides before making up your mind, reinforced our impression that your relationship with her went beyond professional impartiality. If you had truly balanced and unbiased motives for your story, then why did you not contact Ferrel Christensen until he e-mailed you on Friday March 23rd, the day before the story was to be released? Why didn't you call James Haiden, who is the chairperson for the ECMAS Support Group, as I had suggested? Why did you not call up Rick Fowler, one of the co-chairs of the Maintenance committee, who asked you to do so in an e-mail he sent you? Unlike me, he has attended the Support Group very many times. Instead, you contacted only Ms. Malenfant's allies and printed their biased, misleading and untruthful statements. Wouldn't it have been necessary for you to contact James or Rick in order to be investigating in good faith? It is unfortunate that you did not, since you could have avoided many of the misrepresentations that appeared in your articles.

 

All these things considered, we had good reasons for employing the simple word "friend" to describe your relationship with Ms. Malenfant. But we are certainly willing to say that Louise Malenfant may have misled us.

 

The fact that four of the Post's most senior editors and libel lawyer were also consulted in no way changes the facts of this case. Since they have not contacted us at all, they are relying on you for their picture of the facts.

 

 

2 a. Whether you contacted Michael LaBerge first

Based on the fact that you were initiating this article, it was only reasonable for us to infer, even if it turns out to be incorrect, that you called Michael LaBerge. For another thing, before you contacted us you phoned other persons (Carolyn VanEe and Brian St. Germaine), individuals not currently involved in ECMAS-Edmonton and hence not currently knowledgeable of, or authorised to speak for, ECMAS-Edmonton. This made it appear you were engaging in a pattern of contacting people not centrally involved before contacting those who were.

 

 

On March 21st, Mike LaBerge indicated to ECMAS members that he had heard "from a reliable source from down east" that an article was coming out on March 24th. If you were not the one to let Mike know of the upcoming story, then it now seems likely that Ms. Malenfant informed Mike LaBerge about the upcoming article in the first place. If this is so, did you know that she was going to inform him? Are you saying, that you bear no responsibility for his being contacted in this matter?

 

Based upon your response to our questions, if we are satisfied that Mike called you first and that you were not a wilful party in leaking the story to him, then we are willing to change the phrase "going to them was evidently not information-gathering" to "discussing the matters in detail with them was not information-gathering".

 

It is certainly true that, whoever made the first contact, you subsequently remained in contact with Mike, finally e-mailing him to remind him that your article had a looming deadline.

 

Perhaps you can provide some additional clarification on this matter. When did Louise Malenfant first contact you regarding this story? When did you decide to write the article(s)? When did you first discuss it with an editor?

 

 

2 b. Pressure on ECMAS Calgary

 

It is important to distinguish two separate issues here. One is the pressure that Calgary ECMAS leaders felt just from being told by you about your intended article and its imminent publication date. Any normal human beings would feel fear over the prospect of being smeared in a national publication, and seeing the work that they care deeply about irreparably harmed. If any proof is needed that they felt such pressure, it is amply supplied by the precipitous actions they then engaged in.

 

We did not say that you intended to put such pressure on them, just that your actions produced it though it is certainly true that you could foresee that result.

 

The second issue is whether you said any specific things to the leader of ECMAS Calgary, beyond describing your intention to print the article, which could foreseeably be taken as indicating actions that you would like them to engage in. It was reasonable for us to think that the content of your call with Michael LaBerge was not much different than the telephone call that you had with me on Thursday, March 22nd. In fact, based upon his e-mail and telephone correspondence with me, there is little doubt that the telephone calls were similar. If you look at the text of his e-mail message containing a copy of the ultimatum letter that he sent to us and copied to you at 2:55pm on Thursday March 22nd, you will notice that he makes it clear that you spoke to him about the very same topics that you discussed with me.

 

That similarity noted, you certainly did say things to me indicating specific actions you felt we should take: that we should expel Dr. Christensen and Mr. Adams in order to reduce the damage your article would do. Those words by you put me, and the Board members of ECMAS Edmonton, under horrific pressure to behave accordingly. Could you explain why you would pressure me into disassociating from Dr. Christensen and [Tim] Adams, and not put the same pressure on Mike LaBerge? Can you explain how you think that you did not pressure Mike into disassociating from ECMAS Edmonton, when you specifically and very strongly suggested that Edmonton disassociate from Dr. Christensen and [Tim] Adams?

 

However, even though we thus have reason to think you did put pressure on Mike in the same detailed way as you did on us, we did not actually say so in our publicity. Apart from the issue of who called whom, we stated only facts that we can verify.

 

We continue to maintain, moreover, that you yourself have very much to retract and to admit. It is very likely that the hasty actions of ECMAS Calgary were caused, not by any facts about Dr. Christensen and [Tim] Adams, but by the threat of immediately pending national disgrace which you hung over them. Since it was the disbanding of ECMAS Calgary that was the basis of your first article, do you not feel that it was appropriate that you publicly make clear your own involvement in their action?

 

Other things you should publicly admit include the flatly false claims you made to me that contributed to the pressure you exerted on ECMAS Edmonton into expelling two of our members: the claim that Dr. Christensen's book condones adult-child sex and the claim that [Tim] Adams actually had sex with a minor. Here in Edmonton, we were able to find out that both were false. But you did not leave the Calgary group enough time to investigate the book. All by itself, the false belief you evidently gave them about the book put pressure on them to act as they did.

 

Whether anyone in Calgary now admits that you behaved inappropriately toward them does not remove all of our evidence that you did behave inappropriately toward them.

 

Please note that I have a number of carbon-copy e-mails between Mike LaBerge and you. I have also privately corresponded with him, as have other ECMAS Edmonton members.

 

In addition to the pressure exerted on ECMAS, we are told that you commented to [Tim] Adams that your editor might not think that the article was newsworthy enough to publish after all if [Tim] were to resign. We maintain that these comments also constituted a high level of pressure exerted by you to influence events here.

 

 

3. The timeliness of your contact with [Tim] Adams and Ferrel Christensen

 

My understanding is that you advised a number of people (besides me) that the story was coming out on the 24th, and that you hadn't contacted [Tim] Adams by the 21st or Ferrel Christensen by the 23rd. In the latter case, at least, we think people in general will agree that there was nothing timely about your contact. You sent Dr. Christensen an e-mail a fraction of a working day in advance of your original announced publication date, knowing full well that he might not even read his e-mail in the remaining time. Especially since the article was to say terribly negative things about him, you cannot pretend this was adequate notice for defending himself.

 

As for [Tim] Adams, it is of course possible that you intended to call him in a timely fashion even though he called you first. Your lateness in contacting Dr. Christensen raises doubts that such was your intent (as does your refusal to return Mr. Adams' subsequent calls). In fact, however, we did not say or imply anything about your intentions. Our statement "she did not contact either Mr. Adams or Dr. Christensen to hear their side--they had to approach her" just reflects what in fact did happen, not what you would have done. They were bombarded with reports that you were going to attack them in print, but had heard nothing from you yourself and so had to call you instead.

 

Meanwhile, to clarify what your intentions were, we would like to hear more from you about your timetable and actions in all this. In your recent e-mail, you stated that you "began making my first exploratory phone calls regarding this story on Wednesday, 21 March". Are you saying that you did not hear from Louise Malenfant about this matter until that time? If not, when did she approach you? In order to properly view your motives we would have to know more of your contact with Louise Malenfant. How many times did you correspond with her? Please provide me with a time/dated list of the telephone calls that you made, especially with regard to Louise Malenfant.

 

Please note that we are always willing to reconsider our stance but we will need more information to make this decision. When we receive your responses to our questions, we will then decide what to do next.

 

In summary, our position at this time is:

 

1) For your first item, it is up to you to correct this matter with Ms. Malenfant and ask her to admit that, when she told others that you were good friends, she was either lying or greatly exaggerating the truth. And, it is up to you to explain why, given all of the evidence, it was not reasonable for ECMAS to believe that you and Louise Malenfant were good friends. We are certainly willing to admit that Ms. Malenfant deceived us, if that is what has occurred.

 

2) Regarding your second item, we feel that it is irrelevant whether you contacted Mike LaBerge first, or you leaked the information to someone who leaked it to Mike and then he called you. This issue does not substantially change the point we were trying to make, which was that you exerted unreasonable pressure on ECMAS Calgary which resulted in them disbanding. Even if you did not call Mike LaBerge first, it was very reasonable for us to infer that you contacted him first and so this minor point hardly merits a press release. Perhaps if you admit to the other portions of our submission that you don't take exception to, then, this point can be added to our response to your admission.

 

3) As stated above, there is no correction needed for item 3.

 

We look forward to further clarifications so that ECMAS can put an end to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

The board members of the Edmonton Chapter of the

Equitable Child Maintenance and Access Society

 

Robert Bouvier, President

Bev Fowler, Secretary

Marshall Deslauriers, Treasurer

Gail Radford-Ross, Finance Committee Chairperson

Rick Fowler, Maintenance Committee Co-Chairperson

Rob Labossiere, Maintenance Committee Co-Chairperson

Ron Marshall, Personnel Committee Chairperson

James Haiden, Support Group Committee Chairperson