Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

To Strike or Not To Strike — That is the Question.

Posted by auroracitizen on March 12, 2011

The first of 2 scheduled court dates has passed and for the first time the $6 million lawsuit launched by former Mayor Phyllis Morris against 3 alleged local bloggers was heard by a judge.

Acting on behalf of the 3 local residents, lawyer Jordan Goldblatt, argued a motion to have Mrs. Morris’ lawsuit against them, other blog participants and the blog’s host dismissed.

“The mayor’s claim is fundamentally flawed,” the document reads. Goldblatt argued that Morris has not pled the actual words which form the basis of her claim and this is a requirement in a defamation action. Otherwise, how can the defendants mount a reasonable defence.This argument was further supported by the fact that the comments have changed since the initial action was started — making it a moving target.

Documents filed by the defence plead that the legal case is a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP action, and argues the matter should be dismissed on the grounds it has not properly identified the comments being complained about.

As reported in the Era Banner. “At this point, we’ll have to see what Justice Spence rules,” Mr. Goldblatt said, adding there’s no time limit on his decision.

Mr. Goldblatt had no other comment on the case other than the facts enclosed in the factum presented. However, the matter could drag on for years if the case does go to trial, he noted. As such, costs could climb as high as $200,000.

The judge has a number of options; strike the motion completely, strike the motion — but give Morris the opportunity to correct the fatal flaws in the claim and require that she plead the actual words so the defence can respond, or allow the case to proceed unchanged.

A second date is still scheduled for Mar 15 to hear the Morris motion to identify anonymous bloggers — which is being defended by the 3 local defendants — but is also being contested by the CCLA on the  grounds that it violates basic rights to freedom of expression under the charter. However, this date may be deferred until the strike motion settled. A decision will be made on Tuesday by the hearing judge on whether to proceed.

Furthermore, the Town has retained  lawyer George Rust-D’Eye to determine if the process leading to the town funding the initial lawsuit was legal and the contract entered into valid. In dispute are approx $55,000 in legal fees incurred by Morris which currently the town is responsible for paying. Mr. Dawe indicated Mr. Rust-D’Eye’s findings could be revealed by the end of the month.

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52 Responses to “To Strike or Not To Strike — That is the Question.”

  1. Guy L. Poppe said

    To the Aurora Citizen

    You expressed your concern about personal attacks on your contributors.

    I welcomed your efforts to control such comments.

    So now I see I am called an “an incipient troller” by “mr” “ms”, or “it” Anonymous.

    Remind me of the adage about changing stripes.

    • Anonymous said

      It is unsurprising that Mr. Poppe should take umbrage at a tangential passing comment and in so doing miss the main thrust.

      “Defamatory” hunter/gatherer might be more appropriate.

    • Guy Who Knows said

      Mr.Poppe

      I would like to remind you about the adage you reap what you sew.
      I well remember your trips to the microphone at the Town Hall.
      You made it clear you were an avid supporter of the Mayor of that time and others in the chambers.
      Some of those individuals treated many citizens horribly.
      What exactly did they do to warrant those actions.
      My point is that you are judged by the company you keep.
      You made it clear who you support and will be judged by that moving forward.

    • Veritas said

      Mr.Poppe
      Please give it a rest. You have been as caustic as the next guy over the period of time that you have been submitting comments to this blog. You like to dish it out but you have difficulty taking it. When it’s too hot, it’s time to get out of the kitchen. Either practise what you preach or button up.

    • To: Guy Who Knows…

      In a lot of cases, I have not agreed with Mr. Poppe. However, your statements above condense the mood of this blog and where it has, in my opinion, disintegrated since the election (and before for that matter).

      You take Mr Poppe to task because “… you were an avid supporter of the Mayor of that time and others…” “You make it clear who you support….”.

      Since when does someone’s statements have any less merit depending on who they supported? Is Mr Poppe guilty by association?

      If this blog is to continue to be an effective voice of Aurora Citizens, it must stop being used to dredge up old issues with the previous council(s) and stop judging peope by who they supported. There are alot of people here that openly acknowledge that they voted for Morris and her crew in the previous election, should they all be treated as lepers because of that?

      FUIMUS

    • History student said

      To: RTB

      Re: Poppe

      “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

      We cannot afford to do that.

      Unfortunately politics is usually mired in the past because the great majority of politicians, as well as everyday people, have no vision or plan for the future.

      Is our Prime Minister any less guilty of tasteless attack ads directed against his opponents than the worst name-caller on AC?

      This style of governing is strongly offensive. Is contempt of and for Parliament what we want and expect? I hardly think so!

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      TO-History Student DO you not hear the tasteless attack adds against our Prime Minster by his opponents, are they any less contempt or name calling than PM Steven Harper’s adds or as you say A C blogs ,i hardly think so , but then again i will not be voting LIBERAL,GREEN or NDP as i do have vision for the future and think the Federal party in power is heading in right direction and i agree we can not afford to go back to repeat past history and be dammed again .. Politics in the so called free world is just that politics , some do get elected by whatever it takes,contempt name calling,money,advertisements ,lobbyists,friends, yet others just by who they are or seem to be..ps I do not belong to any of the parties Federal ,Provincial or Municipal group, its about what has been going on during their term as to were my vote or criticism goes ( ITS SPRING))

  2. Guy L. Poppe said

    to Anonymous 2.17pm

    Since you think I have access to information you claim not known or accessible to the public, I suggest you go to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, and look at the court endorsement in the back page of the Motion Record. It’s publicly accessible.

    Read the entire endorsement, and satisfy yourself whether I’m taking this issue out of comment.

    Let me know if you feel I’m wrong, but please at least favour me with having read the judge’s ruling.

  3. Guy L. Poppe said

    To Anonymous 2.17pm.

    Are you suggesting I’m making all this up?

    If you are, say it.

  4. Anonymous said

    I just read the justice decided not to strike. I guess he feels the suit has merit after all.

    • Richard Johnson said

      Correction. The judge ruled on procedural issues and not the merits of the case.

      In fact, he agreed with the defendants position that Morris had to specify the words she took issue with. The defendant’s case noted that Morris has provided different information (including different allegations and different supporting quotes) in various documents and in fact the prosecution “had not pled the words” as required in law, therefore it’s very difficult to defend against a moving target. The judge ruled that clarity was required on Morris’ part before this case could proceed.

      As much as Phyllis’ lawyer, Ken Clark, apparently avoided commenting on the main issue of the motion and tried to extrapolate that the judge suggested this was not in fact a SLAPP lawsuit, I think when you read the ruling it does not suggest that this is not a SLAPP lawsuit — simply that the discussion of a SLAPP was not part of the law he considered for his ruling on the motion to strike. The motion to strike was based on the fact that the plaintiff (Morris) had not pled specific words — which she must now do.

      I suggest that you make your own call on what was actually said based on your reading of the decision and the other facts before you. The conclusions are rather obvious from my perspective, but some people seem to see something different these days and I can only guess as to why.

      Certainly the lawyer for WordPress who was also one of the numerous authors of a recent report to the Attorney General relating to SLAPP litigation and the need for remedies to the corresponding issues of concern would disagree with Mr. Clark’s interpretation of what constitutes SLAPP litigation. In fact that report uses our case as an example of a SLAPP lawsuit. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has also taken some issue with various aspects of Morris case… including a little issue called “free speech” as core principle underlying our democracy.

      This case will proceed — however the merits of the case have yet to be ruled on — and we may be two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees away from a final decision.

    • Guy L. Poppe said

      Re Richard Johnson’s comment:

      I agree that the judge did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit. That was not necessary as such consideration was irrelevant to the purpose of the Defendants’motion. The motion was to strike out the claim because it did not allegedly comply with the rules of libel pleading, by specifying the exact libelous words.

      Specific allegations were made by the Plaintiff, but because the Plaintiff appeared to preserve the right to add further allegations in the future, the judge required the Plaintiff to confirm that the no further allegations of libel are relied upon, or, alternatively, to forthwith provide further particulars of libel, so that the action could proceed.

      Mr. Johnson further states: “As much as Phyllis’ lawyer, Ken Clark, apparently avoided commenting on the main issue of the motion and tried to extrapolate that the judge suggested this was not in fact a SLAPP lawsuit, I think when you read the ruling it does not suggest that this is not a SLAPP lawsuit — simply that the discussion of a SLAPP was not part of the law he considered for his ruling on the motion to strike.”

      I disagree.

      Here’s what the judge said: “The Defendants submit that no such be granted because the claim amounts to SLAPP litigation and the Plaintiff should therefore be held to strict compliance with the rules. I do not think that the order made above is a material departure from the rules, even if this case is SLAPP litigation, which on the material is not satisfactorily
      shown”.

      So the judge held that the allegation that it was SLAPP litigation, had not been proven by the Defendants.

      While others may have a different opinion, the only opinion that counts is that of the judge

    • Anonymous said

      Spin it all you’d like Richard but your side lost the first round. If the lawsuit was as egregious as you claim, it would have been tossed.

      It’s also a little disingenuous to cry foul over the Morris camp not exactly reproducing the alleged libelous comments. If they had your side would no doubt have said, ‘Well, how damaging could the comments be? You’ve reproduced them in a public document.’ Rule number one in a libel suit: you don’t repeat the libel. Doing so can seriously reduce any subsequent damages.

      And as for the CCLA — it’s never met a media case it didn’t support. It’s got its own highly partisan agenda to pursue and your lawsuit is just a means to an end.

    • Anonymous said

      Mr Poppe — your comments seem based on access to knowledge that is not publicly know (the actual decision wording from the judge) — possibly your view is as biased as you are constantly accusing this site of being. Is it possibly that you have taken some comments out of context for your own benefit?

    • Anonymous said

      Am I the only one sensing Mr. Poppe’s possible role in culling words and phrases from AuroraCitizen for inclusion in the former mayor’s law suit under “”defamatory?””

      An incipient troller!

    • Anonymous said

      “Spin it all you’d like Richard but your side lost the first round.”

      Wasn’t the first round held last October 25th? An impressive knockout, as I recall.

    • Broderick Epps said

      Lets be clear on one thing.NOBODY won this last round of legal wrangling.If a winner has to be declared my vote goes to the lawyers who have and will reap a windfall, fighting this frivilous lawsuit.This is Canada after all, where court cases take years to come to fruition.

    • Anonymous said

      Mr. Epps,

      It appears that you might have an issue with lawyers and the fees they charge. And possibly with the courts that allow the wheels of justice to grind slowly. It sounds like you may have had legal experiences that you don’t think of as fruitful.

      I’m sure you have your motives, but I am very interested to see how these matters of Morris vs. Hogg et al and Buck vs. Morris et al turn out. I’m thankful that we live in a country where people who feel there names have been dragged through the mud have a place to go to and seek recourse. And I’m sure it looks as if the courts take forever to reach a conclusion, but I guess the alternative is to have them rush to a conclusion.

      Speaking of things dragging on forever, it must be at least 2 years since Buck launched her suit against the GOS. I wonder what the holdup is. In comparison, the Morris vs. Hogg et al appears to be moving at light speed.

    • Broderick Epps said

      To anonymous 8:22.

      You wrote “It appears that you might have an issue with lawyers and the fees they charge. And possibly with the courts that allow the wheels of justice to grind slowly.”
      No to the first part and yes to the second part.

      Also,”I’m thankful that we live in a country where people who feel there names have been dragged through the mud have a place to go to and seek recourse. ”
      So am I

      Finally,”And I’m sure it looks as if the courts take forever to reach a conclusion, but I guess the alternative is to have them rush to a conclusion.”

      You are obviously a lawyer.Are you suggesting there are no circumstances where it is advantageous for a lawyer to slow the wheels of justice.I guess the two for one or three for one in the criminal court world is acceptable “Justice”. Or stretching the billings for bonuses or partnerships never ever happens.

    • Anonymous said

      Mr. Epps,

      You don’t go to court to get justice, you go there to practice law.

      And yes the wheels of justice do grind slowly, but they grind fine.

      So if you have a skilled practioner of law, the fine grinding wheels of justice usually separate the wheat from the chaff. Or, if you prefer the hog from the hogwash.

      Advice is usually worth what you pay for it. If you don’t want to pay legal fees you could represent yourself. However, that doesn’t usually work out all that well. Wouldn’t you agree?

  5. Anonymous said

    Are there any dots to be connected here?:

    http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/967160–town-lawyer-leaves-aurora

    • Anonymous said

      I’d be careful trying to “connect” any dots. There could be a thousand and one reasons he’s gone.

      I do find it interesting that while Dawe and Buck campaigned endlessly against the so-called “low morale” at town hall and blamed Mormac for the number of senior staff who left the previous administration, it only took four months under the new one for a senior member to depart.

      The more things change…..

    • Anonymous said

      Dots aplenty, but connecting them could be problematic.

    • Anonymous said

      Did Mr. Cooper quit or was he fired?

      How much is this going to cost the Town?

      Councilor Buck is the champion of minding the taxpayers’ dollar. I’m looking forward to hearing from her.

    • Luckywife said

      Regardless of how it came about, whether it was a personal decision or he was helped out the door, it needed to happen. I wish him well.

    • Anonymous said

      Luckywife,

      I wish him well also, but I don’t understand your point “it needed to happen”.

      Please explain.

  6. Evelyn Buck said

    About Robert The Bruce.

    Aurora is no different to any other community.
    We have our share of nasty nutters, bellicose buffoons and just plain losers.

    Whitchurch has Hugo Kroon.

    • I certainly hope that A-C publishes this comment….

      For reference I give you this:
      “Posted by auroracitizen on January 28, 2011

      In our ongoing effort to not filter comments, we have allowed virtually all comments to be posted. We feel that this privilege is being abused.

      Recent comments are starting to sound like a Council meeting last term — where issues were rarely discussed based on merits and personalities have become the focus.

      This makes it uncomfortable for readers and reduces the willingness for commentators to share opinions that others may not agree.

      Soooooooooooooo, moderators will tighten up the criteria. Posts that are not discussing the issues will not be published. Disagree all you want — we actually hope that different POV’s get discussed. But let’s keep the focus on the issues and not the personalities.

      We are a volunteer run group — so we welcome any additional suggestions on how to keep the blog a positive forum for discussion and debate.

      Folks — let’s keep the debate vigorous and civil. Let’s help put the Aura back in Aurora”

      Can you tell me how Ms Buck’s comment above addresses the issue? Seems to me that this blog is allowing her to take a shot at me personally which is counter to the above quoted comment.

      I think that being called a “Nasty nutter” or “bellicose buffoon” or a “loser” is hardly addressing the issue at hand. My comment in this thread about Ms Buck is referring to the issue being discussed. I take offence to all of the “names” that she has called me here.

      If A-C is going to have rules they must be applied uniformly. To be fair, I suggest that you leave her post but please ensure that this one is given an equal opportunity to be there as well.

      FUIMUS

    • Anonymous said

      I can’t believe the A/C let Evelyn’s comment be posted. As much as I might agree with her, it doesn’t add anything to this discussion and is plainly mean and offensive.
      I agree with RtB’s take on this particular comment.
      And now, because I’ve taken issue with Evelyn, and agreed with RtB, I’ll be dismissed as an RtB loving Evelyn dissenter.
      I’m neither. I’m just a regular poster who decided to be Anonymous this time so I don’t get slam dunked into a particular camp.
      I really wish I could post under my usual moniker.

    • Anonymous said

      Only in Aurora could an elected official call a resident a “loser” and there not be some form of public accountability.

    • Anonymoose said

      “Only in Aurora could an elected official call a resident a “loser” and there not be some form of public accountability.”

      Absolutely. It’s called a code of conduct and it was tried last term. I think there will have to be some more changes on council before it could realisticly be tried again. Be patient. 2014 is coming.

    • KA-NON said

      With respect to Evelyn’s post, I would suggest that the only person who could be mildly offended, and judging by his previous posts and writings to the Auroran I doubt that he would be, is Hugo Kroon.

      You see, Hugo is a real person. Robert The Bruce/Fuimis is NOT.

      Well, I guess there is a real person typing the words that are published under his nom-de-plume, but in my opinion, he has absolutely no right to claim offense. No more than myself, Luckywife, Anonymoose, Winters Comin’, Fed Up Already, or any of the other regular or anonymous posters on this site.

      I am guessing THAT is why the post is allowed to remain.

      “Taking a shot at you personally” RTB? That is just a little rich, even for you.

    • sharon said

      Evelyn,

      That’s enough. Keep this civil. Your low opinion of others should not get in the way of your good insight and intelligence. I’m surprised the AC let this go. Keep to the subject, not your subjects.

    • Anonymous said

      “Keep to the subject, not your subjects.”

      Subjects? Who made her queen?

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      EVELIN BUCK…where are you going with your post March 14 4.04pm ?? –a little below the belt ? ..your personal view of some residents ?? as you just may have lashed out at some of those who respected you enough to vote for you..Yes i think your descriptive name calling comments may have been better off not published, a little to late now thou..Girl, girl, go back to being one of our Oct 2010 elected officials ,remember the past yet deal with the future of *all* Aurora citizens with respect and dignity..We were in that boat in past thought it was sunk

    • Anonymous said

      Get a grip people – it’s just sad

    • One who Knows said

      What’s all the fuss and backlash about Evelyn’s post , once again she tells it like it is and she gets criticized , asked to play nice in the sand box and hitting below the belt , it just goes to show how little people know about Ev and how she has survived the countless storms, If you know her ,then you should know that she take no prisoners,no B.S. and doesnt rest until the cover is blown ,the truth revealed and the dollars accounted for,
      You Go Girl !!

    • Anonymous said

      One Who *ahem* Knows.

      We know you’re the president of her fan club.

      I get so sick of hearing, “She tells it like it is.”

      No, she tells it like she sees it. Last time I checked, she didn’t have a monopoly on the ‘truth.’

      Two people can witness the same car crash and have very different takes on what happened.

      And, as I’ve said before, why is everything with her about conflict? Even your defense of her uses words like “survived” and “takes no prisoners.”

      If you’re always looking for conflict, you’ll always be sure to find it.

      Not the best way to influence others. No wonder she’s usually the lone dissenting vote.

    • Anonymous said

      Aurora also has some very nice people. What about it? I don’t think Evelyn says anything we haven’t all thought at sometime or another. Again she hides nothing from you and still. I think there are some people who just like to complain. As for Hugo, the people of Whitchurch have silenced him for a while, although Evelyn may have wakened him.

  7. Kelley Howard said

    Phyllis ought to take a look at this:

    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/03/13/uzbekistan-the-enemies-of-the-internet-are-known/

  8. Any news? said

    Any news on what the other lawsuit is costing the town? Or did that get quietly settled?

    • Anonymous said

      Good question. Anyone know the status of that lawsuit? Are we still on the hook for that too?

    • Evelyn Buck said

      If you are talking about my lawsuit, my lawyer has given me strict instructions not to talk about it.
      But I think I can tell you, you are not paying any of my legal bills and no, it has not been quietly settled.

    • Anonymoose said

      Well we may not be on the hook for your half madam, but we will still be paying for the defence. Frankly, your lawsuit has about the same merit as Ms. Morris’ does. The fact that you got re-elected by an even wider margin than in ’06 goes a long way to demonstrate the lack of basis for your suit.

      Given that you have suffered no perceivable harm, why don’t you do something good for the town and offer to drop your lawsuit in exchange for Morris dropping hers?

    • Who me? said

      C’mon, Councillor Buck, you know darn well that your lawsuit is costing the town legal fees for the defense.
      Yeah, yeah, we all know your explanation is that you were suing them as individuals, but you knew darn well that the result would be town funding it, so don’t give us that “Who me?”.

    • Heya Bullwinkle……

      Unfortunitly, EB would not drop hers in exchange of PM dropping hers. There is no benefit to EB to do that. PM’s suit is not aimed at EB so EB has no reason to drop it. PM is aiming at silencing the public, who have the right to speak up against those that elected them. EB is aiming at co-workers and colleagues.

      You justification for EB to drop it (based on her showing at the polls) has some validity.

      I wonder how many made their choice based on these criteria…

      1. I voted for Buck because she keeps me informed and is looking out for my best interests.

      2. I voted for Buck because she is being tormented by those nasty other council members.

      3. I voted for Buck because I have seen her name in the paper because she is suing someone.

      4. I voted for Buck because she was near the top of the list.

      5. I voted for Buck because I threw a dart and it stuck.

      6. I voted for Buck because I like her acccent.

      7. I voted for Buck…. wait a minute did I vote for Buck? …. No I didn’t… Oh damn it, I forget who I voted for – they are all the same anyways.

      FUIMUS

    • Anonymous said

      Wow – anonymoose are you admitting that you’re close enough to Morris to act as a go between?

      Come on Evelina – just use your name..

    • Anonymous said

      I agree with the “moose”, I don’t see how EB can claim, with a straight face, that she has suffered either econmically or otherwise to justify the $5M+ lawsuit she launched. She has been re-elcted, she continues to write on the blog like nothing ever happened, she continues to be the solitary “nay” vote, and continues to draw her pension. So what really has changed for EB? Nothing from where I sit.

      I really think it was an attempt by the Councilor to heap bad publicity on her political opponents and it looks like the electorate bought what she was selling, but somehow I think a sober judge may not take too kindly to using the courts to settle political scores.

      I can’t wait to see how either of these lawsuits pan out.

  9. Anonymous said

    Until this is settled, there is still a shadow over our town. How do we get past that?

  10. Sprite said

    There should be minimum standards before a legal action is launched and lawyers should advise their clients accordingly.

    You referred to a elephant in the budget. That is not the only place where an elephant has appeared. YouTube has been home to both an elephant and “Officer Bubbles.”

    Both cases are bizarre.

  11. Kathy B said

    You hit the nail right on the head!

  12. Anonymous said

    In my opinion, as much as there is support for this blog, I think commenters are afraid to venture back into this discussion.
    Some of it is fear of being included in ongoing legal action, and some of it might be the desire to never hear of the previous mayor ever again.

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