Top court decision allows former N.S. Crown lawyer to sue premier for libel

The Supreme Court of Canada has opened the door to a libel lawsuit against Nova Scotia’s premier by a former government lawyer who says the premier damaged his reputation by denouncing his courtroom arguments.

The top court Thursday refused to hear an appeal by the Liberal government attempting to keep documents central to the intended lawsuit by Alex Cameron under wraps due to solicitor-client privilege.

As is standard, the court did not provide reasons for its decision.

Cameron has claimed the Premier Stephen McNeil and former justice minister Dianne Whalen libelled him by implying he acted without instruction in 2016 when he argued in court that the province had no legal duty to consult the Sipekne’katik band on a natural gas storage proposal.

The brief was denounced by Indigenous leaders for stating there was historical evidence of the band’s “submission” to the British Crown in 1760, in contrast to “unconquered peoples” in other treaties.

After a public outcry, McNeil disavowed the argument, and Cameron has said in court documents that statements by the premier and Whalen implied he was acting without instruction or contrary to instruction from the province.

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