Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Legal Chill Settles in Aurora in Response to Lawsuit

Posted by auroracitizen on October 28, 2010

The following letter was received from one of our readers last week.

Dear AuroraCitizen Moderator,

I know that this may be a case of closing the barn door after the horse has gone, but is it possible to have my post of (date/time removed by moderator) removed?

While I recognize that all posts are already in the hands of the Mayor and her lawyers, and what I posted cannot be “undone”, I believe that the Aurora lawsuit will soon be receiving national attention. Many readers will be looking at the AuroraCitizen in the coming days, weeks and months, and I have no wish to be potentially dragged into this as well.

In spite of this request, please know that I fully support the AuroraCitizen and its moderators. My heart goes out to all of you.

The commentary on the AC pales by comparison to the vitriol against Ford, Smitherman, and McGuinty every day in the comments in the Sun, Star and Globe.

We hope that with our new Council this type of fear will dissipate and once again the freedom to publicly criticize an elected official will be acceptable in our community.

25 Responses to “Legal Chill Settles in Aurora in Response to Lawsuit”

  1. Luckywife said

    Do you have firsthand knowledge of what comments are being censored/not posted? Are you in a postion to know what the view/agenda of the moderators is?

    “My feeling is that you someone was called a “bumbling idiot” there would be no case for a suit so my assumption is there must have been more to it. Time will tell.”

    That was an analagy offered by another poster. Time isn’t needed to tell anything. There really is nothing more to it than that.


    • Anonymous said

      Proof? Not really but did have a post that has not appeared, either it was accidentally missed or was intentionally not accepted.

    • Luckywife said

      All I can suggest is that you use the link on the ABOUT page and email a moderator directly with your concerns. Perhaps you can request to open a thread if there is a specific topic you would like to bring up for discussion. If you feel that strongly that you are being censored, you can start your own blog, I think that there is no expense involved but I cannot say for certain. Either way, I will be glad to read and give thought to your opinions.


  2. Interested Observer said

    Free speach is still alive and well on these boards, except when comments are censored or not posted if they do not reflect the view or agenda of the moderators. Also, if they include slander, libel, threats or perceived threats. My feeling is that you someone was called a “bumbling idiot” there would be no case for a suit so my assumption is there must have been more to it. Time will tell.

  3. Anonymous said

    This is really sad for the residents of Aurora, that they STILL live in fear over our ex Mayor. It’s a shameful situation, please Phyllis,
    stop this nonsense now!

  4. Manipulated said

    In ou society it is the right of every individual to bring a suit – initiate a legal action – against any other individual, corporation or institution by filing an intent to claim in the courts.

    This, of its own, should not and must not be considered as a threat to remain silent or face similar action.

    The legal system is cumbersome and there are many preordained stages that must be followed for an action to proceed.

    Obviously the nature of the claimant and its lawyer(s) can have a serious influence on the public’s perception.

    Legal actions have to be analyzed on the basis of who and/or what the plaintiff is, and the specific claim that is being made.

    In the case of a mayor suing three citizens for defamation, the public reaction has been unbridled outrage, and rightly so.

    The legal system is competitive, in that both sides have the opportunity to be represented and heard. The side for the defence can often be more devastating than that for the plaintiff.

    This can become known very close to the beginning of an action, sometimes only later on.

    We are very close to the beginning here, and already Morris is on her own, “in her own name.” What has she gained? Nothing. What has she lost? Possibly more than she ever bargained on.

    Time will tell, and in the meanwhile her political career is going on an unwelcome sabbatical.

    • Anonymous said

      “Time will tell, and in the meanwhile her political career is going on an unwelcome sabbatical.”

      The sabbatical – if it is only that – was precipitated by thousands of voters. I’m sure they don’t find it “unwelcome”.

    • An optimist said

      To Anonymous at 6:01 pm:

      Perhaps the sabbatical is unwelcome to the person who will soon begin it.

      The thousands who brought it about are no doubt rejoicing.

      There are usually at least two sides to every story.

  5. evelyn.buck said

    The Town made the decision clear on Monday.

    No time should be wasted providing a public explanation of how it came about.

    Another law suit is pending that should ensure no council ever again abuses the trust placed in them at the time of their election.

    At no time has our outgoing Mayor ever considered the possibility her conduct was responsible for the outrage in the community.

    That is as frightening a lack of self-awareness as I have ever seen in a politician. As well as total failure to understand the public sense of what is mete and just.

    The Mayor brought all of it down upon her own head. Using public funds to defend herself from public outrage was never an option.

    The people have decided.

    • Oliver Closov said

      LOL. That’s right Buck you’re only suing the town for 5 1/2 million clams for its own good. We certainly wouldn’t want anyone abusing the trust placed in them by the people, say like revealing the contents of confidential conversations.

      You’re a saint.

      At no time did a certain councilor ever consider the possibility her conduct was also partially responsible for the outrage in the community.

      That is as frightening a lack of self-awareness as I have ever seen in a politician.

      The councilor however was just that much better at deflecting the blame than the mayor.

    • KA-NON said

      I think that “Oliver Closov” (“All of her clothes off”) is the same person as “Pat MacGroin”. We’ve heard them all “Oliver”, and maybe we even laughed at them when we were 14 years old.

      Grow up, would ya?

    • Fay Tality said

      Yup, thanks KA-NON. I agree. The joke is over. It died a while ago.

    • Luckywife said

      I know I should probably stay silent and let Evelyn speak for herself, but I can’t resist.

      Oliver Closov, please put a robe on and take take the cotton out of your ears.

      Evelyn Buck is NOT suing The Town of Aurora!

  6. Luckywife said

    Tim The Enchanter, I am in 100% agreement with you. The only thing that I am confused about is if she feels her personal safety was threatened why is that not strictly a police matter? You would think that if the police want the personal information of the people alleged to have made threats, that they would stand a better chance of getting it than civil litigators. Maybe I am naive but I just don’t get how anyone other than law enforcement could possibly have a chance of getting citizens private information released.

    Do you know?

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      I’m no legal beagle but my understanding is a court order is required to obtain blogger info.
      As you say, a direct threat like “me and my buddies are going to track down John Doe this Friday and shut his mouth for good” is easily a police matter.
      I would also assume that a direct statement of libel or slander such as “don’t vote for John Doe, he hasn’t been caught yet but I know he’s stealing money from the town” would prompt a judge to order the ID of the blogger.

      From what I’ve read and heard regarding Morris’s suit my lay-person legal opinion is that she has confused a threat with a figure of speech.
      Kind of like the old days when you might have heard the phrase “he oughta be horsewhipped” when referring to a public figure caught with their hand in the till.
      A strong opinion for sure but hardly a threat.

      I’ve no wish to see the defendants run up legal bills but it would be worth a donation to the defence fund just to read the headline:

      “Court dismisses Morris suit. Declares complaint to be completely without merit.”

      I couldn’t think of a more fitting epitaph for this sad affair.

  7. BEEN THERE said

    Those of you who have enjoyed years of “free speech” in the Aurora Citizen – PLEASE DON’T ABANDON THE MODERATORS NOW.
    I was on the executive of a rate-payers group who, years ago, was sued – I believe to silence the group.
    Unfortunately, our group let it work – abandoned their membership and left the executive, and four families who contributed, to pay for the necessary expense of hiring a lawyer.
    Fortunately, the judge threw the whole thing out as being “preposterous”

  8. fed up said

    The biggest irony in this whole election is that the councillor that was appointed (not elected last time) got in this time and four of the people who appointed him did not get re-elected. What goes around comes around.

  9. Luckywife said

    …..And so it begins.

    It will be very interesting to see how our new Mayor and Council deal with this hot potato, especially Gallo and Gaertner. Personally, I don’t think it is enough for the new council to disavow this action. I want to see Phyllis Morris presented with a bill for re-imbursement from the Town for all legal expenses incurred to date for this action. I certainly hope the defendants will be asking the court to have their costs covered by same. It’s easy to sue people when spending someone else’s money, It gets trickier when risking one’s own financial security.

    We need an explaination from the Town, what law was cited, what section of the Municipal Act allows for a Mayor and Council to sue its citizens? Now that the wording of the motion has been changed to Phyllis Morris personally, are taxpayers still paying the freight? Will she be required to re-imburse for all the fees charged to the Town by Aird and Berliss?

    Now is not the time to let up, we are entitled to answers. How do we go about getting them?

    • Anonymous said

      I would also like to know if the town, i.e. we taxpayers, is still footing the legal bill for the 4 ex members of council (Morris, MacEachern, Granger and Wilson) and the 2 re-elected members (Gaertner and Gallo) in the lawsuit initiated by councillor Buck.

  10. Matt Maddocks said

    Somewhere out there now, Phyllis and her lawyers are wringing their bony hands and hissing “excellent”.

    • Hazard said

      Matt, I don’t think so.

      The ex-Mayor’s hands are quite pudgy, as is the rest of her. She is just now starting to contemplate that she might be completely on her own, with no town-backed financial support once the new Council is sworn in. This new circumstance might be causing her cold sweats.

      As for her lawyers, they can wring their bony hands to their hearts content and can hiss themselves hoarse. Without cold hard cash they will not waste any more of their expensive time on “ex.”

    • Tim the Enchanter said

      Actually Matt – I don’t think this works for Morris at all.
      Her claim was/is that she’s responding to threats of violence.
      The counterclaim is that this is a SLAPP suit – launched solely to silence critics for fear of legal entanglements.
      I wonder how many of us modified or dialed back comments and criticism just in case the worst possible scenario was realized: Morris re-elected AND armed with bloggers names.
      Quite possibly a frightening prospect for those concerned with local business or volunteer connections.
      Just the fact that at least ONE person was afraid to speak is intolerable and reinforces the importance of the rebuilding job Mayor-elect Dawe and the new council have ahead of them.
      Aurora can’t simply sit back and hope that someone like Morris doesn’t get elected again.
      Someone who takes advantage of dubious rules interpretations and loopholes – all technically legal of course – to run the town in the ‘either you’re with me or you’re against me’ style.
      I supported Geoff Dawe because he convinced me that he understands that the mayor and council serve ALL of the town and not just special interest groups or those with ‘friends on council’.
      The Morris years made it clear that there’s a difference between doing the right thing according to the best interests of the town or making the politically expedient choices to satisfy favoured supporters.
      We’ve seen what happens when rules have either been ignored or unevenly applied.
      It’s all led to dissension, acrimony and needless legal bills.

      Enforcing the rules fairly and closing the loopholes that permit the advancement of personal agendas will do much to discourage if not completely eliminate the scourge of sycophants and opportunists that have haunted the town hall this term.
      In my mind that will be the greatest legacy that our new council can leave us in four years.

      We all know there’ll be bumps along the way but I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to approach Geoff and say “Hey, I think you screwed up” without bringing a lawyer with me.

      Aurora. Still small but now looking more Fun and less Funny.

    • Matt Maddocks said

      Well stated Tim, good points. I suppose what actually chills me is the thought that some folks, once free and proud to present their points and opinions, will now feel less inclined to do so, or as you say, modify or dial back their comments, in the face of this baseless, vindictive lawsuit.

      I remember after 9-11, and the subsequent invasions into Iraq and Afghanistan, hearing many pundits comment along the lines of “maybe the terrorists have already won. We now live in fear, have cripped our air travel and border crossings with massive security measures, and look twice at every person wearing Muslim garb or just looking the part”.

      Don’t misunderstand. I’m in no way implying that the events of 9-11 are in direct comparison to the lawsuit issue taking place here. My point is this; here we all were, enjoying the right to free speech, protected and guaranteed to us under our Canadian Charter, when all of a sudden Morris and her lawyers launched a lawsuit-bomb against the alledged moderators of the site. News gets out, and now we’re seeing one citizen who’s requesting their posts be removed. From the wording of their request, it doesn’t appear as though they’ve had second thoughts about what they posted, or changed their mind, but have requested removal due to fear of being included under any potential future litigation. On this basis, you could argue that “maybe the lawyers have already won”.

      For the record, I will continue to excerise my right to free speech, under my own name, and will fight to support those good people who have been named in this ridiculous, Charter-attacking lawsuit.

      No apologies for free speech.

    • Stephanie said

      I’m not so sure that there is any victory in this.

      As I’ve said before, it is not the comments of others here that make me think so little of our municipal politicians; it is the conduct of those public officials themselves.

      The fact that someone wishes to retract a posting does not mean that the person — or me — suddenly holds our soon-to-be-former Mayor in a position of high esteem. On the contrary. I think this only indicates that some of the more disparaging comments I’ve seen are possibly more accurate that I may have considered.

      Think about it. If you were to call me a “bumbling idiot” and I called a lawyer and threatened to sue you, thereby prompting you to stop calling me a “bumbling idiot”, would you think I am any less of a bumbling idiot? Not at all. You’d probably think I’m a blustering, bullying, whining drama-queen bumbling idiot.

      If this ordeal were truly about protecting a spotless reputation of an upstanding public servant, the lawsuit would be for one dollar.

    • Fred said

      I’m in love with Stephanie . She is so smart, and funny, and apparently thinks exactly as I do.

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