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Libel suit against former Nova Scotia premier and justice minister resolved

HALIFAX – A libel action against the former premier of Nova Scotia and his justice minister has ended with an undisclosed settlement.

The Justice Department confirmed today the legal action launched by former government litigator Alex Cameron has been resolved.

Cameron resigned from his job in 2017, indicating he would sue ex-premier Stephen McNeil and former justice minister Dianne Whalen for comments they made about his work in a trial involving a Mi’kmaq First Nation.

He claimed McNeil and Whalen defamed him by implying he acted without instruction in 2016, when he argued the province wasn’t required to consult the Sipekne’katik First Nation on a natural gas storage proposal.

Cameron’s legal brief was denounced by Indigenous leaders because it made reference to the First Nation’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 alleged the premier and Whalen implied he was acting without instruction or contrary to instruction from the province.

Legal experts have said Cameron’s case was a useful effort to prevent politicians from throwing government lawyers “under the bus when it’s convenient,” and to uphold the principle of ministerial responsibility for positions government lawyers take.

On Nov. 17, 2017, the premier told reporters that Cameron’s brief was “not what I believe” and “I had no idea it was being put forward,” according to the court documents.

Whalen added at the time, “I can reiterate what the premier said. (It) went beyond the position of government.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2022.



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