Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dave Cournoyer: Not a Victim

"Debt-ridden university student" is doing this to himself

If one were to ask former University of Alberta Students' Union Vice President External Dave Cournoyer, being a 24 year-old university student entitles one to do certain things.

Including, apparently, misappropriate the name of another individual in order to boost traffic to his blog.


Yep, if you haven't already read it elsewhere, you're reading it here. "24 year-old university student" Dave Cournoyer checked last year to see if Alberta premier Ed Stelmach had registered his name as an internet domain name. Discovering that he hadn't, Cournoyer decided to help himself to it.

Cournoyer set the address to forward to his blog.

Shortly before Christmas, Cournoyer recieved a letter from Tyler Shandro, a lawyer representing Stelmach, instructing him to stop using the address to forward traffic to his blog (which reportedly had actually already done a mere week previous to recieving the letter) and surrender ownership of the domain name to Stelmach.

Now, one may think that a "debt-ridden University of Alberta student" would take the letter as an opportunity to avoid doing himself further financial harm. Instead, Cournoyer is basking in all the fickle glory offered by the attention this has gotten him. Just look at him there, to the left, holding that letter and scowling. My oh my, he certainly means business.

"I think this thing is pretty bizarre and pretty ridiculous, but I am taking it seriously," Cournoyer said. "It’s a pretty threatening letter."

It might even be easy to forget that Cournoyer is actually entirely in the wrong. By using Stelmach's name to funnel web traffic to his blog, Cournoyer was, in fact, misappropriating Stelmach's identity in order to garner more attention for himself and his opinions.

Given that Cournoyer's website is so often critical of the "36-year-old Progressive Conservative governement", it's pretty safe to conclude that Cournoyer's views certainly don't represent Stelmach's.

So here the situation lies: Cournoyer, the person who has actually done something wrong, accusing the government of bullying him because Ed Stelmach -- as an individual -- has gone out and hired a lawyer to right the situation. Meanwhile, Cournoyer, as Executive Director of PC Alberta Jim Campbell notes, is trying to provoke a controversy. "As I understand it, the letter provides Mr Cournoyer a number of options to avoid litigation. Those options are still open to him," Campbell said.

Not only has Cournoyer had his opportunity to comply with Stelmach's requests, but he has an opportunity to do it still.

If he doesn't, well, he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning this case, having no legal legs to stand on. He may provoke a short-term and minor political controversy that will simmer in the minds of Alberta Liberals and New Democrats, but being an entirely irrelevant figure in Alberta politics (the peak of his career, to date, has been his aforementioned astoundingly ineffectual tenure as U of A SU VP External), it's almost entirely certain he won't get anything concrete -- political or otherwise -- out of the matter.

The Liberal love of politicians who spend their tenure accomplishing absolutely nothing aside, he certainly won't be able to use it to launch a political career -- at least not a successful one.

Cournoyer is marching this dispute over a domain name that he himself misused entirely voluntarily, and when whatever damages a court may decide to assess swell his debt load, he'll have no one to blame but himself, scowling pictures and all.

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