I almost missed it. It has now been over two years since January 8, 2008.
It’s hard to believe that it was actually a year ago today that my petite affair with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach became public. Though we may have had some rough bumps over the past year, I think we may have discovered how to make our relationship work in this great province we call Alberta.
It’s been a growing year for both the Premier and I. After the PCs won their first majority government under Stelmach, they finally decided to hire someone with more than a basic understanding of the interweb. Next week, the PCs caucus will be launching a new interactive website – mypcmla.ca. If successful, it may have the potential to push Alberta’s political-class into joining the world of web 2.0.
I’m not sure how Stelmach will be celebrating the occasion, but I will celebrate by hopping on a bus to Saskatchewan. I will be speaking at the Canadian University Press annual conference in Saskatoon this weekend. I’m excited to be be delivering a session on politics, new media, and web 2.0 on Friday afternoon, and to be joining blogger Joey Coleman in a panel discussion on blogging on Saturday.
(For those of you interested in some legal followup to the incident, in November 2008 the Alberta Law Review published an article titled ‘EdStelmach.ca and the Tort of Misappropriation of Personality,’ which is quite interesting.)
Related Reading: premier stelmach threatens to sue alberta blogger over edstelmach.ca / day 2 / the daveberta conspiracy / day 3 / day 4 / day 10 / day 23
I’ve been asked by a number of daveberta.ca readers for an update on the edstelmach.ca fiasco that became public 23 days ago. So, by popular demand, here is an update on the continuing legal saga of edstelmach.ca and my accused misappropriation of Ed Stelmach‘s personality.
As I have previously written, Premier Ed Stelmach‘s Chief of Staff Ron Glen called me on the evening of January 9, 2008 asking if there might be a way to amenably resolve this issue. Understandably, I was a little surprised to get a phone call from the Premier’s Chief of Staff, so I told Mr. Glen that I would return his call in a couple of days after I took some time to weigh my options. On January 11, 2008, I returned Mr. Glen’s call and left a message on his voice mail (Mr. Glen was in Ottawa with Premier Stelmach at the First Ministers’ Conference). My call was quickly returned by Mr. Glen’s assistant who assured me that she would try to set up a phone meeting between myself and Mr. Glen to discuss a resolution to the edstelmach.ca domain name issue.
This began what can only be properly described as a game of “phone tag” which ensued over the next week. Mr. Glen had an uncanny ability to return my phone messages while I was in classes and had my cell phone turned off (I am a full-time student at the University of Alberta). Each time Mr. Glen left a message on my voicemail, I returned his call and left a message on his (I was surprised that no one seemed to pick up the phone in the Premier’s Office). Then, roughly two weeks ago, Mr. Glen didn’t return my call, which was bizarre considering that I had indicated that I was interested in resolving this situation.
As it’s been almost two weeks since Mr. Glen or a representative of Ed Stelmach has attempted to contact me, I can only assume two things:
a) They have found Ed Stelmach‘s personality.
b) They are acting like nice guys because of next week’s impending election call.
I’m sure Albertans across the province would be happy if “a” were the answer, but I can’t help but be concerned that they still haven’t withdrawn the threat of a lawsuit against this blogger.
It seems as if the moment the media coverage began to die down on this issue, Ed Stelmach‘s representatives went silent on the issue, leaving me with the very real concern that Premier Stelmach and his crew are putting on their nice guy faces until after the election when they could follow up their threat and slap me with a lawsuit. Even with cyber-law experts from Michael Geist to David Hicks and Cameron Hutchison having pointed out the shaky legal ground that Premier Ed Stelmach is standing on, the Premier still hasn’t withdrawn his legal threat towards me. And even after Edmonton-Riverview PC candidate Wendy Andrews assured me on the evening of January 23, 2008 that she was going to contact Mr. Glen to see if he was going to return my call, I still haven’t heard back from Mr. Glen.
You can read the full daveberta.ca coverage of the continuing edstelmach.ca fiasco below:
Well, it’s been 10 days since the edstelmach.ca fiasco began last week and I’m still surprised that it’s still getting the media attention that it is. As I’m in and out of classes at the University of Alberta this week, I seem to be unintentionally playing a game of phone tag with one Mr. Ron Glen (who’s .ca domain name is apparently still available…).
It’s been a little quieter this week, which is good because I have now had a chance to catch up on the reading that I didn’t get done last week because of edstelmach.ca. I’m looking forward to things dying down a little so I can concentrate on my courses before the expected provincial election begins in February (two new interesting classes I’m taking include POLS 419: Politics of the Canadian Constitution and HIST 460: Water History: Local, National, and Continental).
Here is some of the media coverage from this week:
– Is Stelmach made of Velcro or Teflon? (Graham Thomson in the Edmonton Journal)
– Stelmach’s legal threats against blogger spawn backlash (Globe & Mail)
– Web-savviness not PC’s domain (The Gateway)
– Stelmach’s seeming lack of foresight unsettling (Letter to the Gateway)
– Will the real Ed please stand up (Calgary Sun)
– I was on CBC Radio’s Search Engine radio show which aired this morning.
And to echo the Edmonton Journal’s editorial “Tuppence for a smile,” I think some people might need to take a breather and lighten up a bit…
Appropriation of premier’s name for website an invasion of privacy
The Edmonton Journal
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Re: “Tuppence for a smile,” Editorial, Jan. 11.
The Journal calls the controversy over the website www.edstelmach.ca “a truly magnificent prank”? Horse manure.
How about invasion of privacy — with an ulterior motive? Cournoyer sets up the domain, worsens the problem by pointing it to an Internet article about former Social Credit leader Harry Strom name, and then suggests that Stelmach should have registered his name first.
Cournoyer did not outsmart anyone. His actions have done nothing to enhance the Liberal party of Wilfrid Laurier and Louis St. Laurent.
Stelmach carries the very responsible position of premier. I expect he does more work in a day than Cournoyer has done in the last year. Stelmach concentrates on important issues and already has addressed teachers’ pensions and royalties, among other issues.
I am an emeritus professor at the University of Alberta. My position has been debased by Cournoyer’s actions, as he is a U of A student.
There are some jobs to be done: Kevin Taft should throw him out of the Liberal party. The president of the U of A should take away his student registration. Who can teach him some manners?
D.J. Laurie Kennedy, Edmonton
A bit of a media update…
– Stelmach vows dogged fight with blogger for rights to name (Edmonton Journal)
– Tuppence for a smile (Edmonton Journal Editorial)
– ON CAMPUS DAILY (Macleans.ca)
– Webnames issued on a first-come, first-serve basis (CIRA Official David Hicks in a letter to the Edmonton Journal)
– Stelmach stands by legal move in web war (Canadian Press in the Calgary Sun)
As was reported in the newspapers today:
Stelmach‘s chief of staff, Ron Glen, called Dave Cournoyer on Wednesday in search of a resolution to the fight over the domain name edstelmach.ca. Glen had heard Cournoyer might be amenable to settling the issue if he got a call from the premier.
Now, I’m still a little confused about who exactly I’m dealing with. Let me try to work this out:
1) Right before Christmas, I receive a letter from a lawyer representing Premier Ed Stelmach threatening me with litigation for misappropriating Premier Stelmach’s personality by owning edstelmach.ca.
2) January 8 – The Premier’s Office refuses to comment or become publicly involved with the issue. Alberta Progressive Conservative Executive Director Jim Campbell comments on it, saying the domain issue is theirs.
3) Afternoon, January 9 – I receive an email from the Premier’s lawyer saying that he is still waiting to hear from me or my legal representation.
4) Evening, January 9 – I receive a friendly phone call from Ron Glen, the Chief of Staff of the Office of the Premier (which didn’t want to comment or be involved with the issue the previous day), asking if there might be a way to amenably resolve this issue.
Understandably, I was a little surprised to get a phone call from the Premier’s Chief of Staff. I know that Mr. Glen is a good friend and long time adviser to Premier Stelmach, but I can’t help but be a little confused about who is handling the issue on their side of things.
Like I’ve said before, this has always been something that probably could have been resolved a lot quieter by a friendly email or phone call and not through a threatening legal letter (it’s kind of like shooting first and asking questions later). This said, I’ve never been interested in personally or financially profiting from this, so I will be taking a couple of days to weigh my options.
Here is some recent stories from bloggers and in the news about this story…
– Stelmach the bully in this web prank (Graham Thomson at the Edmonton Journal)
– Province threatens Cournoyer (The Gateway)
– Premier of Alberta threatens to sue blogging uni student for registering a domain with his name in it (BoingBoing)
– Premier Stelmach seeks truce over domain name spat (Edmonton Journal)
– Political Analysts tell Stelmach to ‘back off’ on domain name dispute (Calgary Herald)
– Expert expects preem to lose domain lawsuit (Edmonton Sun)
– Premier defends efforts to control internet address (Canadian Press on CBC Edmonton)
– Edmonton Sun Letter to the Editor
– Davberta punk’s Premier Ed. I love it! (Ken Chapman)
– edstelmach.com (Everybody has to live somewhere)
– Hard not to feel some sympathy for the Premier (David Climenhaga)
– Ed Stelmach threatens lawsuit over domain name (Ben Co.)
– Not an HRC issue, but blogger may be sued (timeimmortal)
– Alberta Premier vs Alberta Blogger (p2pnet.net)
– Alberta Premier threatens to sue blogger over cybersquatting ( The Agenda)
– On making Ed Stelmach look stupid (Cowboys for Social Responsibility)
– Unless you live under a rock (Alberta Tory)
– Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach vs. blogger (Alice the Camel)
– Craig Chandler bids for Stelmach’s domain name (La Revue Gauche)
– Hey Ed your domain is available (La Revue Gauche)
The Premier was also questioned about edstelmach.ca during his press conference this morning before he left for the First Ministers’ Conference in Ottawa.
First, I’d like to thank everyone who has commented, left phone messages, or sent emails of support (or disapproval for that matter). I’ve been trying to govern myself accordingly, but this story has been keeping me pretty busy since yesterday. I have classes this afternoon and evening, so I will try to start responding to emails after that.
Second, I have yet to hear from Premier Ed Stelmach or the lawyers representing him. The threat letter from Premier Stelmach‘s lawyer was the first time I was contacted and I haven’t heard anything since their imposed deadline passed.
Third, here are some interesting links to bloggers and reporters covering this story:
– “I don’t know where Ed Stelmach’s personality is but I didn’t take it” (Calgary Grit)
– Stelmach threatens to sue blogger (Edmonton Journal & National Post)
– Alberta Premier threatens to sue over domain name (CBC)
– Lawyers for Premier threaten to sue blogger who owns edstelmach.ca (Canadian Press)
– Stelmach threatens to sue over web address (Front page of Calgary Herald)
– Lawfirm says blogger stole Stelmach’s personality (Edmonton Sun)
– Alberta Premier to blogger getlost.now (Globe & Mail)
– Alberta have a lot of lawyers or something? (Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy)
– Premier of Alberta sues Alberta blogger (Grandinite)
– A cybe-bully? (Jafo’s Journal)
– The Electronic Battleground (Ken Schmidt)
– “Lame and Childish” (Thought…interrupted by typos
– https://edstelmach.ca: tort of misappropriation of personality? (Cameron Hutchison on the U of A Law Blog)
Also, I was understandably surprised to find some support in what I thought would have been an unlikely place:
Fourth, I plan to return to regularity scheduled blogging soon. As you can imagine, I have a lot to say about this.
Right before Christmas, I received a letter in the mail from Tyler Shandro, a lawyer from the Calgary-based law firm Walsh Wilkins Creighton LLP, representing Alberta Premier Edward Stelmach.
This letter was sent to me regarding my ownership of the domain name edstelmach.ca, which I purchased for approximately $14.00 on April 4, 2007 (four months after Mr. Stelmach became Premier of Alberta). The letter accuses me of interfering with and misappropriating Ed Stelmach’s personality (I’m really not sure where Ed Stelmach’s personality is, but I certainly didn’t take it).
The letter also states that because there are advertisements placed on this blog, Premier Stelmach “is entitled to the amount he would reasonably have received in the market for the permission to use his name.” This makes me wonder how much the owners of a local Edmonton business paid to use Premier Stelmach’s personality last Halloween or how much Rick Mercer paid to use the domain name of another Alberta political personality.
For the majority of the time I have owned edstelmach.ca, I have had the domain name forward to this blog. A week before I received the letter from Premier Stelmach’s lawyer, I changed the forwarding to the wikipedia biography of another Alberta Premier (who also probably would have not thought to register his domain name).
The letter requests that I:
(a) make arrangements with my service provider by December 21, 2007, to ensure that the Website no longer forwards to the blog; and
(b) make arrangements to with my service provider and/or registrar to have the Website registered in their client’s name.
(c) govern myself accordingly (I added this one).
If I chose not comply by their imposed deadline, the letter states that they “have been instructed by our client to commence litigation.”
As someone who has never shied away from criticizing the 36-year old Progressive Conservative government, I have always faced harsh criticism from those who don’t appreciate the views espoused on this blog or agree with my political beliefs. I accept this reality.
Though I am still surprised that the +150 staffed Public Affairs Bureau failed to complete the simple task of registering a $14.00 domain name, I am even more surprised that Premier Ed Stelmach’s first reaction in this situation was to threaten to sue an 24-year old blogger and debt ridden University of Alberta student. As a born and bred Albertan, I do not take well to threats from politicians. Therefore I will be seeking advice from legal counsel on how to proceed with this threat.