Used to be, political strategists stayed behind the scenes and kept their candidates in the spotlight.
But the biggest news in Toronto’s mayoral campaign going into the Labour Day weekend was a Twitter spat turned libel suit between two rival candidates’ strategists.
Warren Kinsella, a volunteer with Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign, has served Nick Kouvalis – a political strategist with rival John Tory campaign, who masterminded Rob Ford’s successful 2010 mayoral bid – with a notice of libel for allegedly defamatory tweets.
Kinsella’s lawyers Shillers LLP served Kouvalis on Twitter late Friday afternoon, and told Global News they are also trying to serve him in person.
— Shillers LLP (@ShillersLLP) August 29, 2014
The notice alleges Kouvalis’s tweets reference Kinsella’s departure from the Chow campaign, saying she made a “very smart move dumping Kinsella” and “good riddance.”
Other offending tweets linked to a music video for the Beyonce song “Irreplaceable” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”
Kinsella’s notice of libel claims Kouvalis was “motivated by malice when he posted the defamatory words” and says they suggest Kinsella “was making a negative contribution” to Chow’s campaign.
“His conduct was high-handed and callous and demonstrated a total disregard for the truth or Mr. Kinsella’s reputation,” the notice reads. “At no time prior to posting the defamatory words did Mr. Kouvalis contact Mr. Kinsella in an effort to confirm any of the facts.”
Kinsella stepped away from the Chow campaign’s “day-to-day” operations Thursday, nearly a week after he apologized for suggesting Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan was “segregationist” for ignoring certain poor neighbourhoods.
Kouvalis now has an opportunity to respond to the notice or apologize and retract his statement, Shiller said in a phone interview Friday.
“Given that the defamatory statement was made on Twitter, we felt the retraction and apology should be made there,” he said.
Whether or not Kouvalis apologizes, Shiller said, the suit could still move on to court.
Warren Kinsella could not be immediately reached.
Both Tory’s and Chow’s campaign declined to comment.