Many folks have asked whether the AuroraCitizen has stopped publishing because of the lawsuit. In short — the answer is NO. Sort of.
The AuroraCitizen has not stopped because we are prevented from publishing because of the lawsuit — but because the time taken to deal with issues of the lawsuit needed to come from somewhere — and the options were time with family and the need to work and generate income. Family and work came ahead of writing a blog.
However, we did want to provide you with an update on the recent decision by Madame Justice Brown — which obviously we are all very pleased with.
Let us start from the end and work back.
First, the Judge ruled that “The Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie test and accordingly, I dismiss the motion.” This means that Phyllis Morris failed to convince the Judge that there was a basis for the complaint. The Judge’s decision is clear and unequivocal.
Secondly, Judge Brown ruled, “the public interest favouring disclosure clearly does not outweigh the legitimate interest in freedom of expression and the rights of privacy of the persons sought to be identified.” Canada still remains a democracy — even if Phyllis Morris has a different opinion.
Third, “The plaintiff in this defamation action has failed to set forth the specific words complained of as being defamatory. The jurisprudence clearly establishes that in actions of libel and slander, the precise words complained of are material and should be put forth in as much particularity as possible in the pleading itself, ideally verbatim or at a minimum, with sufficient particularity to allow the Defendant to respond“. She further adds, “it is not the role of the court to parse the impugned articles and blogs be it to attempt to determine by divination or divine inspiration, which statements it should asses in determining whether a prima facie case has been established.” For regular watchers of this case, you will recall that this same issue was raised in the motion by the Defendants in the Spence decision. In that motion, Morris argued that she didn’t have to be specific. Justice Spence left her some leeway on the particulars but did require her to crystallize the claim. Judge Brown, in the matter of Freedom of Expression, rightly held Morris to the full standard as established by law.
Judge Brown also noted that, “the Plaintiff did not provide evidence in support of this submission, nor did she provide any affidavit evidence in support of this motion.” Rather she left Town Solicitor Christopher Cooper to hold the dirty diaper on this motion — the same Christopher Cooper who is no longer employed by the Town.
Lastly, Judge Brown wrote, “I am cognizant, in the present case, that the alleged defamatory statements were made in the context of a hard-fought political campaign. They are clearly related to the mayoral position and governance of the Mayor, councillors and the municipal governance generally. With these very precise words the Judge clearly notes that at no time were any comments directed at staff — you may recall that this was the claimed basis that Morris used to ask the town (i.e residents and businesses of Aurora) to fund her lawsuit. The Judge obviously saw through this charade.
So what’s next? Is it over?
Well, as you may already know, the Banner reports that Phyllis Morris plans to appeal to a higher court for “leave to appeal”. Which should come as no surprise. Phyllis has a habit of appealing any decision that does not give her what she wants. One need only look to the Westhill debacle to understand her resistance to other opinions. We understand the date for that appeal will be in October.
Which means that the higher court will decide first if she has grounds for appeal, and then if they believe she does, they will set at a further date hear arguments on the motion again.
But nothing changes until the appeal is heard. Except the Defendants costs continue to rise. And Morris avoids having to pay the defendants their costs for the judgment.
Finally, whether the motion is dismissed again or not, the lawsuit is not over — just the Norwich Motion.
If, as expected, the appeal fails and the Norwich Motion is dismissed again, the leaking boat that is the Morris lawsuit will continued to plow forward. With yet another hole in her bow.
So regardless of the outcome of this motion there will still be more wasted time and wasted money — which aptly represents the legacy of the political career and contribution to politics in Aurora by Phyllis Morris.