Wally Martin, of The Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast, is facing a possible defamation lawsuit from Tourism Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley tourism board threatens to sue B&B owner for online defamation

Tourism Langley has threatened to sue Wally Martin for defamation over online comments

Tourism Langley has threatened to sue a local bed-and-breakfast owner for defamation after he harshly criticized the organization online.

Wally Martin received a letter from a local law firm, Campbell Burton McMullan, last week threatening a lawsuit and setting a deadline of Friday, June 7 for Martin to remove certain online postings.

“It has come to the attention of my client that you have engaged in spreading false, destructive, and defamatory rumours about Tourism Langley and its representatives,” reads the letter from lawyer Scott Payne.

In particular, a June 1 Facebook post and a June 3 email by Martin, were singled out. The Facebook post was in reference to his removal from Tourism Langley last year over criticism of the organization.

“These are simply the latest examples of a protracted pattern of publishing, over the course of years, false and misleading statements concerning Tourism Langley,” the letter says, citing other statements by Martin, including letters to the editor.

Martin said he’s not worried about the threat of a lawsuit.

“I’m actually kind of looking forward to standing in front of a judge,” Martin told the Langley Advance Times.

He hopes to use the opportunity to question Tourism Langley about its finances and operations, which he has long criticized.

Martin’s opposition to Tourism Langley goes all the way back to the early days of the organization’s formation in 2006. As a local tourism board was created – replacing the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce’s role in promoting local tourism. It was to be funded by a two-per-cent tax on hotel rooms.

As owner of The Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast, Martin fought the hotel tax and claimed the increase of keeping away American tourists.

More recently, Martin has accused the board of being secretive, and frivilous with its money for buying jackets for the organization’s directors.

“Yes, I am questioning all of their activities,” Martin said.

The executive director of Tourism Langley said that, of course, Martin has freedom of speech, but that some of his accusations aren’t true.

“But nobody’s allowed to make defamatory comments about another business or another person,” Erinn Krebda said.

Tourism Langley’s funding comes largely from the provincially-regulated hotel room tax. As of last October, the province extended the tax to every room being rented for the night, including AirBnb suites, Krebda noted.

Local tourism marketing organizations that receive the money are regulated by the province.

“We are overseen quite closely by Destination BC and the Ministry of Finance,” Krebda said.

As for the jackets, they were bought for the directors of Tourism Langley, who serve as volunteers in their positions, Krebda said, adding that the jackets are to promote Langley and identify the directors at public events.

She noted that although Martin is no longer a member, Tourism Langley’s website still features The Princess and the Pea as a place to stay in Langley and includes a description and contact information.

Krebda said no lawsuit has been launched yet, and the organization is waiting for advice from lawyers.

As of Monday, Martin’s Facebook post was still up.

Last year, Martin was embroiled in another dispute with Tourism Langley, over his ownership of web addresses tourismlangley.com and langleytourism.com. Both sites redirect to his bed and breakfast’s website. Tourism Langley’s website is at tourism-langley.ca.

READ MORE: Website ownership pits Tourism Langley against local hotelier

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Just Posted

Stray cats hit by cars require $11,000 in medical care, says Abbotsford SPCA

Six injured cats have been brought to branch in last two weeks

Abbotsford Liberal candidate says policies show Trudeau apology is sincere

Seamus Heffernan said ‘error in judgment’ not representative of Prime Minister or party

‘This isn’t fun and games’: Fraser Valley academic explains why brownface is hurtful

Satwinder Bains says wearing brownface and a turban is unacceptable

Trudeau brownface photos are ‘a teaching moment,’ UFV South Asian Studies professor says

Photos are ‘unacceptable,’ but Satwinder Bains says Trudeau must demonstrate his apology was sincere

Environmental rally set for Friday in Mission

Unite Behind the Science Rally takes place Friday at 1 p.m. in front of the Mission post office

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Police warn of escalating violence, weapons in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park

Officers issue statement about high crime in the area that includes a homeless camp

Most Read