Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Why Can’t Morris Understand CCLA Involvement?

Posted by auroracitizen on November 15, 2010

When speaking about the possible involvement of the CCLA in the lawsuit , Phyllis Morris is quoted in this weeks Auroran, 

“It is hard to imagine that such an Association would choose to align themselves with extreme anonymous language and personal threats.”


In a recent National Post article, Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says it is always a concern when public officials take litigious steps against critical constituents.

There may be things that cross the line, but we want to see that line get pushed to create a nice, big area for people to express themselves,” Ms. Zwibel said.

Is it surprising that Phyllis doesn’t grasp the basis for their concern — to safeguard the rights of citizens as outlined under the Canadian Charter of Rights which guarantees the citizens of this country the right to freely express their opinions?

Possibly Phyllis should read the insightful letter written by Mr Paul Sesto in the same edition of the Auroran. It clearly and eloquently states the basis for why the CCLA and citizens should be concerned about this lawsuit.

Given the recent activities to remember and honour those that fought for these rights, it is even more telling that she can’t put aside her own agenda and acknowledge that the opinions expressed by people through their votes was a reflection of her behaviour over a period of 4 years.

Maybe it was her behaviour that made Ms. Morris the subject of “ridicule, hatred and contempt” — not because a community blog shone a light on those activities. We simply believed that a more educated public would make a more educated decision.

Her ability to draw only 21% of the vote suggests a deeper dissatisfaction and speaks for itself. It would appear she underestimated the intelligence of the public.

Should we be complimented that she blames this blog for her loss?

The same article in the National Post suggests we have significantly more power than we ever thought we had. The truth is our circulation increased significantly as a result of the publicity provided by her lawsuit — far surpassing anything we saw prior to the  lawsuit being filed.

The public outrage at her lawsuit probably did more damage than anything ever written in all the blogs or newspapers combined.

If she wants someone to blame — she simply needs to look in the mirror.

15 Responses to “Why Can’t Morris Understand CCLA Involvement?”

  1. Anonymous said

    “Is it surprising that Phyllis doesn’t grasp the basis…”
    It seems to me that there has been a lot that Phyllis doesn’t grasp. Remember the comment at Region about Aurora not having “that type of people” in response to the issue of affordable housing? And there are oh-so-many other examples that many others have mentioned.

  2. Another comment that may be somewhat off-topic as it has to deal with American politics, but here it is anyways.

    Taken from Neil Postman’s Technopoly : The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

    “There is not a single line written by Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Hamilton, or Franklin that does not take for granted that when information is made available to citizens they are capable of managing it. This is not to say that the Founding Fathers believed information could not be false, misleading, or irrelevant. But they believed that the marketplace of information and ideas was sufficiently ordered so that citizens could make sense of what they read and heard and through reason, judge its usefulness to their lives.”

    So are lawsuits such as this one saying as their basis of claim that Canadians are incapable of this kind of reason?

    How insulting.

  3. Luckywife said

    I know this is off topic, but I have a question about the recount. I just read in the Banner online that it is underway. Each candidate is allowed to be present with their lawyer.

    I am wondering who is responsible for paying for a candidate to have their lawyer attend. The Town or the Candidate? Anybody know?


    • Robert the Bruce said

      I cannot say for sure, but I would hazard a guess that the lawyer is there for the candidate and is paid by them (through their compaign funds).

      I certainly hope that the lawyer is not paid by the Town, especially if the candidate was not an incumbant.


  4. Matt Maddocks said

    Among other things, this may in my opinion, be a case of the old “the emperor has no clothes” syndrome. Morris has perhaps surrounded herself with a small band of loyal (albiet misguided) followers who will tell her 24/7, that she’s right, and the majority of the Town are all wrong. When you can’t see past that, to the reality that exists, your judgement becomes horribly skewed. Refusing to understand why a respected association like the CCLA would show interest in the defence of the individuals named in this farce of a lawsuit, along with now adding YouTube to her crusade, are just some of the factors that would seem to indicate she’s not acting in her own best interests. By no means am I implying that she’s a victim here; Morris has firmly entrenched herself in this position. She chose her battles. She chose to put her views and opinions out on YouTube, a global site that maintains no moderation when it comes to comments. It’s a “post at your own risk” type of web environment. Unedited and unmoderated comments regarding video posts are the norm on YouTube. The only control you have when uploading your video is whether to turn the comments feature “on” or “off”. But Morris is determined to “out” the posters she disagrees with. I don’t suppose it’s occurred to her that maybe, just maybe, the commenter who invited her to seek an intimate relationship with an elephant may just be a bored office worker in Libya, or a cocky teenager in China. No wait, those are countries whose governments, along with those of Thailand and Pakistan, have banned YouTube. Maybe Morris should seek refuge in one of those countries, where the governments pride themselves on keeping tight control of the message. It seems hypocritical on her part to have engaged and utilized the social media machine to put her message out there, but now seems determined to rain hellfire down on that same machine when she doesn’t like the feedback it provides.

    One more point with respect to the lawsuit; in the latest issue of the Auroran, Councilor Gallo seems to echo a similar viewpoint to that of Councilor Gaertner’s from a couple of weeks ago. They each make comments to the effect that when they voted on the motion, they were not aware of the lawsuit that was looming in it’s wake. Each expressed the notion that they felt they had enough info at the time, but now in retrospect, realized they perhaps should have asked more questions, or waited for a more detailed report of the motion. Having read this, I have questions for both Councilors Gallo and Gaertner:
    1. When you took your Oath of Office, you swore, among other things, to become “well informed on all aspects of municipal governance and carry out their duties in a fair, impartial, transparent, and professional manner”. Do you now maintain that a closed-door meeting taking place well after midnight, to vote on a motion that you now admit you did not have all the facts of, meets the criteria for the oath you swore?
    2. Having now seen the incredible public backlash that this lawsuit has created, do you still support the motion?
    3. Do you feel that supporting a motion that has cast the lives of three Aurora families into turmoil, strictly on the basis of a PERSONALLY-DRIVEN lawsuit from the outgoing Mayor, serves “at the best interests of the Town and People of Aurora”, as you also committed to when you took office?

    • Luckywife said

      Bang on Matt, as usual. I actually considered that Gallo was deserving of my vote, was willing to give him a chance, before I found out about this lawsuit and what those 5 did. I have serious reservations about how and why it is possible that Gallo and Gaertner can be allowed to take another oath and seat at the council table. They have both admitted publicly, that they were not aware their action would lead to a lawsuit.
      How then, can either of them claim to be “well informed on all aspects of municipal governance and carry out their duties in a fair, impartial, transparent, and professional manner”???? How can any of them possibly justify that having the public fund a personal lawsuit is in the best interest of either the Town or the public?
      Frankly, I question whether these two even know or care what the “public interest” is. Furthermore, it appears to me that Gallo, just like Gaertner did, is passing off responsibility for this mess to “staff”.


    • Anonymous said

      Before the election I asked Gallo if he supported the lawsuit, among other questions. While he answered some questions he avoided giving a response to that one. When I asked the question again, he still gave no repsonse so good luck getting an answer.
      Mind you, now that we are post-election and he does not have to worry about the outcome, perhaps he will be more forthcoming.

  5. Richard Johnson said

    Suffice it to say that it is my humble opinion (assuming that I am still allowed to have one) that Phyllis Morris and her legal team are as much to blame for Phyllis’ political reputation as anyone, even despite the Mayor’s record over the past four years. Suing your political opponents during an election under the authority of a vague council resolution that was passed in the early hours of the morning in dying days of council, which effectively gave the mayor a blank cheque to do as she saw fit, speaks for itself.

    Look at the track record of a councillor quitting, the reasons behind the refusal of two of our most educated and well respected councillors not wishing to run again, a cease and desist letter being sent to the Mayor by an internationally regarded ethicist and expert on corproate governance who was “released” as our integrity commissioner one day after his first ruling was delivered to the public, not to mention the lawsuit issued against the Mayor and her supporters on council for potential defamation. This record stems from the actions of the very same lady that is now trying to claim the moral high ground and who claims that we have set the “gold standard of democracy”. Is it any wonder that nearly 80% of Aurorans voted for change ?

    • Luckywife said


      So good to hear from you again. I know this must be a very difficult time for you and your family. You have always provided thoughtful and reasoned commentary to this blog. I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your decision, as quoted in the Post article, and resume your “Council Watch” articles in the future. Everything that I have read to date, the statements that Phyllis Morris has made to the press and the ridiculous assertions ( you tube???) she has made in her statement of claim, only strenghten my conviction that this is indeed a SLAP suit. If we stop communicating, if we allow politicians to bully us into silence, strip us of our rights to comment and critisize our government, then Phyllis Morris and all politicans like her, WIN.

      Best regards,

    • I echo Luckywife’s assertion regarding the communities desire for your continued participation.

      I think this picture sums it up well:

      Although the printer ink metaphor needs to be replaced with that of something more electronic, it still requires people to get their hands, and voices dirty.

      A clean, sterile, censored nanny state is not our future.

      Let’s get dirty people

    • Richard Johnson said

      Thank you to “Luckywife” and “Someone who loves this town more than politics”! You make me smile and your support is much appreciated.

      When one’s sense of justice is turned on its head by the Mayor (with the support of council and our tax dollars) and when your wife and kids are faced with our family name being dragged through the papers while being wrongly accused (along with others), as a direct result of our collective efforts to work with the town in good faith, it really does make one question if wading into our version of municipal affairs is worth it.

      I believe that good people need to speak up and that ALL viewpoints need to be heard and respected in order to protect democracy, but after years of taking a pounding I think that it may be time to find a new avenue in which to contribute.

      I may well find it hard to break the ties because I am interested in political issues impacting our town, but when the facts don’t appear to matter to your political adversaries who will apparently stop at nothing in order to reshape the truth in an effort to take you down, it may be time to move on. We’ll just have to wait and see how all of this plays out.

      All of that said, I’m thrilled that we are embarked in a new direction at the town hall and I have no doubt that the town staff and approximately 80% of those Aurorans that bothered to vote likely feel the same way.

    • David Heard said

      Good for you standing up and being heard Richard.

      On another note I am still waiting for an apology from Clr.Wilson.

    • Stephanie Allen said

      My support is with you as well. Freedom of speech is an important right to defend.

      Macleans magazine has had their own issues with freedom of speech relatively recently. I wonder if they might be interested in your story? Have they been made aware?

  6. 14 Sleeps and Counting said

    Well it’s about 14 more sleeps till we don’t need to hear about the ‘eccentricities’ of the soon to be former administration.

    Lets assume and expect the best of the incoming council who will take, as the first order of business, the withdrawal and settlement of the lawsuit against members of the public for public debate. Don’t worry we’ll tell G&G how to vote.

    And yet for this arbitrary action by elected members and raised concern by CCLA… not a peep from the integrity commissioner.

    This legal action is a matter for the Ontario Gov’t. Ministry of Municipal Affairs to review and regulate the ability of individual politicians to undertake these kinds of actions in the guise of municipal interest and as a matter of fundamental free speech.

    THANK YOU to the Veterans all who served and serve to guarantee these freedoms.

    The incoming council did not make or create the situation of a very low public perception of the Town, but it is the new councils responsibility to fix. No more extended council meetings talking for the sake of talking, stop the staff turnover, determine a solution to separate political interference from the administrative functions at Town Hall, Stop the spiraling legal costs for lost causes or Tilting at windmills and, one more thing, take out the bulletproof glass from the mayors office. Consider it at parting gift.

    14 Sleeps and Counting!!

  7. The Mirror Image said

    It is difficult for many, impossible for most, to understand, to truly comprehend, how we appear to others.

    And I’m not talking about superficialities, about cosmetics, about dress.

    Nor am I talking about what we do and say in our ordinary expressions, in our day-to-day lives.

    I am talking about the inner person, the spirit, the very soul of our being – if you believe in such. It is our essence that cuts through all the external window dressing, the thing about us to which people instinctively respond.

    If that essence is positive, people will feel comfortable in our presence, we will gain their trust, and we will be successful. If that essence is negative, we may fool some of the people some of the time, but eventually they reach that inevitable conclusion – there is something inherently wrong with us.

    We might not be able to attach a specific word to this negative feeling: discomfort, distrust, “ridicule, hatred and contempt.”

    Sometimes we become what we are fated to be, driven by our own inner demons. When this happens we can’t blame the members of our community, for they have come very late to see us for what we truly are.

    When the mirror is working we have the great good fortune to see our true inner selves. When it is broken, as is the Morris mirror, all we can do is blame others for our self-inflicted misfortune.

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