Oct 22, 2012 — 2 years after former Aurora Mayor Phyllis Morris sued 3 citizens for defamation — Judge Hawkins issued a judgement against the former Mayor finding that her action was indeed SLAPP litigation (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).
With this judgement Hawkins also delivered a precedent setting ruling concerning SLAPP litigation by awarding the defendants special enhanced costs as a result of the SLAPP finding.
Judge Hawkins stated Mayor Morris wanted to hit quickly and hard in order to silence her critics sooner rather than later in the weeks leading up to the October 25, 2010 municipal election.
He ruled that in practical terms, the resolution from the town had authorized Morris to commence an action with the town paying her legal fees.
The full decision can be read online. Hawkins decision SLAPP
So we know what Morris is responsible for — but it also begs the question, what responsibility is shared by Councillors MacEachern, Gallo, Gaertner, Granger and Wilson? They voted in favour of this legal action in 2010. They sat in the closed-door meeting where this plot was hatched. They voted in public to fund this lawsuit against private citizens for daring to disagree with their leadership decisions.
Furthermore, Councillor Ballard joined the team this term when he — together with Councillors Gallo and Gaertner — voted against Council’s decision to discontinue funding in early 2011. A clear demonstration that even after the public ran Morris out of office with only 20% of the vote — these Councillors still supported her actions.
And where does former Councillor and failed Mayoral candidate Nigel Kean fit in this mess? Well — days after his 3rd failed attempt to become Mayor, during which he campaigned vigorously against Phyllis Morris, he sent an email to Phyllis Morris and Evelina MacEachern providing them with evidence in this matter, stating that he had kept an email from Aug 2008 as he “felt that some day I would need it. The day is now.”
Do these politicians get off scott-free? Do they not share equally in this ruling? Are they without accountability?
Could their collective support for Phyllis Morris be any clearer? Is anyone unclear that they and Morris are cut from the same cloth? Building themselves up by trying to tear others down.
At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about the impact of bullying behaviours, here in Aurora we have a judge finding against a politician for using public funds to try to bully citizens into silence — and awarding enhanced costs because of this reprehensible behaviour.
A politician who has consistently been supported in her actions by a wider group of like-minded politicians.
This is a very disturbing situation. Are these the role models we want in our community? We deserve better from all our leaders. Let’s not forget these actions if they ask for our votes again in 2014.
And thank goodness for the people who were prepared to stand up and fight for the rights of all citizens to exercise our right to free speech. It surely cost them — but we should all be grateful for their steadfast commitment to stand for what is right.