Seriously Free Speech Committee recognizes CanWest with award

The Vancouver-based Seriously Free Speech Committee has announced that it will present a "Golden Gag Award" to CanWest MediaWorks.

In a news release issued this morning, the committee stated that what clinched the award for CanWest was the corporation's lawsuit against retired Douglas College instructor Mordecai Briemberg.

CanWest MediaWorks--which owns the Vancouver Sun, Province, the National Post, community papers, and daily papers in other cities--sued Briemberg and a printer last December in connection with a parody of the Sun that lampooned the paper's coverage of the Middle East.

The Seriously Free Speech Committee  was created to support Briemberg. According to the news release, committee organizers plan to present the award to Vancouver Sun editor-in-chief Patricia Graham at noon on Friday (June 6) at the paper's office at 200 Granville Street.

The committee stated that the other nominees included Barrick Corp., which is suing a small Quebec publisher in connection with a book about the corporation's activities in Tanzania.

Another nominee was the municipality of Powell River, which is suing citizens who criticized council's handling of a development issue.

The Sun's Daphne Bramham wrote an article in early May about the town's so-called SLAPP suit.

That prompted the co-chairs of the committee, Jef Keighley and Brian Campbell, to write a letter to the Sun asking why it did not publish a statement by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association about CanWest's handling of the Briemberg issue.

In legal documents, CanWest claims that Briemberg and other defendants violated the Trade-Marks Act. CanWest is seeking punitive damages, aggravated damages, and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from creating, distributing, or printing any publications or Web sites bearing the name of the plaintiff's wares.