BC Ferries’ vice-president of strategic planning and community engagement is suing a former ferries captain, over statements made on a Facebook page.
Mark Collins, a ferry executive, is accusing Hornby Island resident Peter Kimmerly of defamation surrounding postings Kimmerly made on the private ‘Word of Mouth – Hornby Island Talk’ Facebook group.
In the notice of civil claim, Collins notes the posting was made on or around March 5 and was read by all or most of the 975 members of the group, and targeting of the members of the group is of particular importance and particularly harmful to Collins’ professional reputation, as most of the group members reside on an island serviced by BC Ferries.
As a result of the postings, Collins’ reputation has been damaged, and he has suffered distress and embarrassment, states the notice.
The claim details that the postings are defamatory, in that they insinuate Collins was previously terminated by BC Ferries; then terminated by Canada Steamship Lines; is incompetent and is unintelligent.
In addition to general, special, aggravated and punitive damages, Collins is seeking an order that Facebook and Google along with other search engines remove the postings and link from search results.
Deborah Marshall, executive director, public affairs for BC Ferries, says the individual listed in the lawsuit posted several comments resulting in harm to the employee’s professional reputation and public integrity, “which is of paramount importance in his role regarding community engagement.”
While the action is being brought by the BC Ferries employee as an individual, Marshall adds the corporation will be paying the employee’s legal fees since this matter arose as a result of his employment with BC Ferries.
The ‘Word of Mouth – Hornby Island Talk’ group – which continues to be operational – is a members-only group, meaning the administrator approves or denies requests to join.
In a description on its Facebook page, the group lists: “to join this group, you need to live on Hornby Island, have Hornby Island friends or at the very least be a regular visitor and feel a strong Hornby connection.”
It suggests the following guidelines from the Hornby Island Residents’ & Ratepayers’ Association: “Everyone welcome; leave old grudges at the door. Assume that everyone has a positive motivation and a valuable perspective. Listen and speak respectfully, even in disagreement.”
Nick Ward of The Update Company, an online marketing service in Cumberland, says with any post on social media, it’s safest to assume the post will be made public and will be persistent.
“People can take a screenshot and share it, and it never goes away.”
One member of the group – and Hornby Island resident – Colleen Work, who is named in the claim, says she lost sleep when she found out about the lawsuit.
“…when I turned my Facebook on, all of a sudden apparently we’re all named. It’ll be very interesting … I’m in shock but I’m willing to stand besides my fellow community people,” she told CTV Vancouver Island Friday.
Attempts to reach out to Peter Kimmerly for comment were unsuccessful.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.