Cabana tangles with Dunderdale and French in Supreme Court

James McLeod
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Blogger and erstwhile political aspirant Brad Cabana questioned former premier Kathy Dunderdale under oath in Supreme Court in St. John’s Wednesday morning.

Blogger and onetime politician Brad Cabana prepares to represent himself in Supreme Court Wednesday as part of a defamation lawsuit against former cabinet minister Terry French and former premier Kathy Dunderdale (right).

Cabana is representing himself in a lawsuit against the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Dunderdale and former cabinet minister Terry French.

At the centre of the case is a comment French made about Cabana on VOCM radio in 2011, in the midst of Cabana’s convoluted political career.

Cabana was a political unknown in January 2011 when he emerged to seek the leadership of the PC party against then-premier Dunderdale, who was serving as interim leader following the resignation of former premier Danny Williams.

Cabana’s Tory leadership bid was derailed due to problems with the signatures on his nomination form, and he was disqualified.

Later the same year, he switched allegiances and went after the Liberal leadership — again unsuccessfully.

It was around this time that French made the disparaging comments in question — calling Cabana a “waste of space” and a “political scumbag,” according the Cabana’s statement of claim. Both terms were repeated many times during testimony in court Wednesday.

French also called people like Cabana “political prostitutes” — another term which is at the centre of the defamation case.

In recent years, Cabana has also made a name for himself as a litigant; in addition to the Dunderdale/French defamation lawsuit, Cabana unsuccessfully attempted to get an injunction to stop the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project on constitutional grounds, and he is still being sued by Williams for a different defamation case.

In all of these cases, Cabana has represented himself.

Construction continues apace on the Muskrat Falls project.

In court Wednesday, things started off on a moment of confusion, as Cabana asked for members of the media and other observers to be kicked out of court, saying he had to discuss some sort of personal medical issue with the judge and two other lawyers.

After about an hour of closed-door conferring, things got underway with Cabana questioning Dunderdale on the stand.

His questioning covered a wide range of issues — everything from reading sections from the MHAs’ code of conduct to Dunderdale, to questions about an incident in 2011 in which Cabana alleges the Tories sent a staffer to his house to threaten him and dissuade him from running for the PC party leadership.

On the specific matter of French’s phone call to VOCM’s “Backtalk,” Dunderdale said the comments were nothing more than normal political back-and-forth.

“There’s a cut and thrust to politics, Mr. Cabana. You were in the political arena,” Dunderdale said.

Apart from Dunderdale, VOCM “Open Line” host Paddy Daly has also testified in the case, as has Cabana’s wife.

During Cabana's questioning, he frequently took long pauses between questions, and seemed to struggle to find the necessary documents to aid him in his questioning.

More than once, he ran into issues with asking leading questions, or running afoul of the rules of court.

In the afternoon, Cabana questioned French directly, and again the line of questioning was meandering and all over the political map.

French said he would have described anybody who would change parties as a “political prostitute,” and he chuckled and agreed when Cabana asked whether former politicians Ross Wiseman and John Crosbie, as well as current MHA Paul Lane, would all fit the bill.

Late in the afternoon, Cabana was chastised by Justice Robert Stack, who took issue with one line of questioning, saying, “You’re pulling little pieces of words out of context.”

The trial continues with more testimony from French Thursday morning.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Supreme Court, Tory

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Muskrat Falls

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Recent comments

  • Bill Fillier
    February 25, 2016 - 12:48

    Cabana thinks he is a leader, or a lawyer or who knows what is next. Almost funny.

  • flashback
    February 25, 2016 - 11:40

    Mr. Cabana can settle down now. It took a while but we've figured out for ourselves the problems with Dunderdale, French & their cronies. To see those arrogant smug nuisances still feeding off us is enough to turn the stomach of a rabid dog. Too bad they can't stand trial for their abuse of power that's run us & our future generations in to the ground. Cabana is probably a better person then they'll ever be. Maybe even as good or better than the crowd we recently elected.

  • What A Waste of Court Time
    February 25, 2016 - 10:32

    3-4 days of court time wasted while it takes murder trials like the Captain's Quarters case months or years to be heard. Schoolyard namecalling - he said, she said. You cannot publish what I think of Cabana, Dunderdale and French.

  • Dolf
    February 25, 2016 - 07:38

    Number 1, Cabana should know you NEVER represent yourself in court. Number 2, neither Dunderdale nor French have lost any of the bloody arrogance they displayed while driving us to the brink of bankruptcy.

    • Chebucto
      February 25, 2016 - 09:27

      Their facial expressions while on camera are priceless.

    • Dermis Probe
      February 25, 2016 - 10:37

      If you can't get a lawyer or you can't afford one, your only LEGAL options are representing yourself or walking away. Suing and losing MIGHT be better than letting things fester for the rest of your life. And that depends on the significance of the perceived wrong to the individual. Self-represented litigants (SRL) and SRL coaching is growing in Canada. In Britain McKenzie friends can assist a SRL. The price of a barrel of justice seldom decreases, so even if you are represented by a lawyer, there's a good chance winning will be a Pyrrhic victory (i.e. economically equivalent to a defeat).

  • Roy Critch
    February 25, 2016 - 07:18

    I wonder is this court case one of the reasons why VOCM don't want to hear the opinions of the readers anymore. .

    • Lloyd
      February 25, 2016 - 13:07

      To...ROY CRITCH It is not only VOCM closing comments on some stories, but CBC as well. It is happening all across the board. I guess you aren't up with the times.

  • Bill
    February 25, 2016 - 06:25

    Dunderdale said there was a "cut and thrust" to the politics. Indeed there was and she was the absolute master of sarcastic cuts and thrusts that brought the demeanour of the legislature to the lowest in years.

  • John Smith
    February 25, 2016 - 06:08

    Brad Cabana is wasting more court time and resources to satisfy his ego. He reminds me of a petulant child, craving attention. From what I've read it would seem Mr. French has a better case to sue Cabana for Cabana called him a "corrupt politician" which may or may not be true...but is certainly slanderous, and needs to be proven by fact. I wonder how many more court cases must the grand standing Cabana lose before he crawls back under his rock?

  • Political Watcher
    February 25, 2016 - 06:01

    Davis, Dunderdale, French, Daly and Cabana; now there is a cast of characters if we ever seen any. This is a total mockery of the judicial system.

  • Too Bad
    February 24, 2016 - 20:30

    Cabana is trying to find justice by beating the system. He can't.