Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

CCLA to Intervene to Protect Political Speech and Internet Anonymity

Posted by auroracitizen on February 16, 2011

From the CCLA website

On January 13, 2010, CCLA will intervene in a motion in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to ensure that freedom of speech on the Internet is given broad protection.  The motion, brought by the former mayor of the municipality of Aurora, seeks information that would reveal identifying information about an anonymous blogger(s).  The former mayor has started a civil defamation action in which she takes issue with comments posted on a local Aurora blog which are critical of her work in office.  The action was started by the mayor when she was still in elected office and the Aurora council had passed a resolution to fund the lawsuit.  Since the mayor was unseated in the most recent municipal election, the council reconsidered and voted down that decision.

While the Internet should not be used as a shield to allow people to break the law, neither should a simple request to the courts result in disclosure of identifying information.  The CCLA will argue that a freedom of speech and privacy interests should be given significant weight in making decisions of this nature, particularly when political speech is at issue.  The right of individuals to comment on and criticize the way in which public officials perform their duties is vital in a democracy, and civil lawsuits should not be used to chill this kind of speech.

Read the CCLA’s factum here.

As previously covered, the date for the motion hearing was delayed until March 11 as a result of lawyers for Phyllis Morris neglecting to file the necessary paperwork with the court in time.

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9 Responses to “CCLA to Intervene to Protect Political Speech and Internet Anonymity”

  1. Anonymoose said

    Paul, I do believe the standard process is called a counter suit.

    IANAL, but I think the three of them may have a case. The case for Aurora not being on the hook for the $70K I think is far weaker, and we’d end up spending that much again to try to legally get out of paying it in the first place. And if we don’t, then we are on the hook for two legal bills.

    • Anonymous said

      Perhaps Anonymoose is not a lawyer because he/she understand nothing about seeking justice or setting precedents.

      It is completely inappropriate for the town to fund a personal suit such as this. This was decided both by the outcome of the last election as well as a council vote.

      Anonymoose is right about Aurora being on the hook because of the former Mayor’s actions. Just wrong about the total cost of the fallout which will be above and beyond $70K.

      INAL either but the choice seems obvious to me.

      Either the town is obligated to recoup the expenses, or as Anonymoose prefers it can send the message that the town can be used like this by other unscrupulous politicians without recourse.

    • IANAL Either said

      To Anonymous – 2//22/2011 – 6:32pm

      Who says that lawyers understand justice? Lawyers in real life are not the do-gooders you see on TV.

      Just so you understand, the election in October was not a referendum on whether the Town of Aurora will fund a lawsuit. You are finding now, a few months in that the reaility is nothing changes. Evelyn is still in the minority. Council tends to bend towards SIGs.

      The Town had agreed to pay the legal bills at the time. The lawyers billed for their work in good faith. The Town is obligated to pay for those bills. After the Town reversed the decision the obligation is gone. There should not be any more bills. And if I was a lawyer, there would be no more work until I knew that I would be paid.

    • Anonymous said

      I think it should be six council members who should pay the legal fees… those who voted in support of the motion that allowed the ex-mayor to launch the legal suit against 3 taxpaying citizens. When one sits on a board, one may be held financially responsible for one’s governance actions – good or bad. I think Morris, Maceachern, Gaertner, Granger, Gallo and Wilson should be held responsible in this case, not the taxpayers.

  2. Paul Sesto said

    The Town or the former Mayor will at some point have to settle on who’s paying the approaching $70,000 legal bill. But what about the 3 Aurora citizen defendants, Bishenden, Hogg & Johnson who have to privately fund their defense. If (and mostly hopefully she/he will) the judge dismisses the action against the 3 defendants how can they recoup the financial burden that this mess has given them? How do they restore their good names?

    • Legal Obfuscation said

      Their good names have never been lost.

      The only loser, and big time at that, is Morris.

    • Beyond the Pale said

      Exactly, L.O., there is no restoration required. Morris’ actions buried her miniscule chance of re-election and cemented her present degraded status.

    • Sprite said

      Yes, a loser. No wonder the “Former” is so angry at us.

      It must still smart to know that over ten thousand people trekked out to vote for someone other than Herself.

  3. legal obfuscation said

    Does anyone have any idea what the ex-mayor’s net worth is?

    Assuming she loses her lawsuit – no “prima facie” case – and then is stuck with defendants’ costs plus more than $70,000 worth of legal bills – each a big hope – will she have to move from Aurora? A real big hope!!!

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