Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Posted by auroracitizen on July 23, 2011

Many folks have asked whether the AuroraCitizen has stopped publishing because of the lawsuit. In short — the answer is NO. Sort of.

The AuroraCitizen has not stopped because we are prevented from publishing because of the lawsuit — but because the time taken to deal with issues of the lawsuit needed to come from somewhere — and the options were time with family and the need to work and generate income. Family and work came ahead of writing a blog.

However, we did want to provide you with an update on the recent decision by Madame Justice Brown — which obviously we are all very pleased with.

Let us start from the end and work back.

First, the Judge ruled that “The Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie test and accordingly, I dismiss the motion.” This means that Phyllis Morris failed to convince the Judge that there was a basis for the complaint. The Judge’s decision is clear and unequivocal.

Secondly, Judge Brown ruled, “the public interest favouring disclosure clearly does not outweigh the legitimate interest in freedom of expression and the rights of privacy of the persons sought to be identified.” Canada still remains a democracy — even if Phyllis Morris has a different opinion.

Third, “The plaintiff in this defamation action has failed to set forth the specific words complained of as being defamatory. The jurisprudence clearly establishes that in actions of libel and slander, the precise words complained of are material and should be put forth in as much particularity as possible in the pleading itself, ideally verbatim or at a minimum, with sufficient particularity to allow the Defendant to respond“. She further adds, “it is not the role of the court to parse the impugned articles and blogs be it to attempt to determine by divination  or divine inspiration, which statements it should asses in determining whether a prima facie case has been established.” For regular watchers of this case, you will recall that this same issue was raised in the motion by the Defendants in the Spence decision. In that motion, Morris argued that she didn’t have to be specific. Justice Spence left her some leeway on the particulars but did require her to crystallize the claim. Judge Brown, in the matter of Freedom of Expression, rightly held Morris to the full standard as established by law.

Judge Brown also noted that, “the Plaintiff did not provide evidence in support of this submission, nor did she provide any affidavit evidence in support of this motion.” Rather she left Town Solicitor Christopher Cooper to hold the dirty diaper on this motion — the same Christopher Cooper who is no longer employed by the Town.

Lastly, Judge Brown wrote, “I am cognizant, in the present case, that the alleged defamatory statements were made in the context of a hard-fought political campaign. They are clearly related to the mayoral position and governance of the Mayor, councillors and the municipal governance generally. With these very precise words the Judge clearly notes that at no time were any comments directed at staff — you may recall that this was the claimed basis that Morris used to ask the town (i.e residents and businesses of Aurora) to fund her lawsuit. The Judge obviously saw through this charade.

So what’s next? Is it over?

Well, as you may already know, the Banner reports that Phyllis Morris plans to appeal to a higher court for “leave to appeal”. Which should come as no surprise. Phyllis has a habit of appealing any decision that does not give her what she wants. One need only look to the Westhill debacle to understand her resistance to other opinions. We understand the date for that appeal will be in October.

Which means that the higher court will decide first if she has grounds for appeal, and then if they believe she does, they will set at a further date hear arguments on the motion again.

But nothing changes until the appeal is heard. Except the Defendants costs continue to rise. And Morris avoids having to pay the defendants their costs for the judgment.

Finally, whether the motion is dismissed again or not, the lawsuit is not over — just the Norwich Motion.

If, as expected, the appeal fails and the Norwich Motion is dismissed again, the leaking boat that is the Morris lawsuit will continued to plow forward. With yet another hole in her bow.

So regardless of the outcome of this motion there will still be more wasted time and wasted money — which aptly represents the legacy of the political career and contribution to politics in Aurora by Phyllis Morris.

13 Responses to “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over”

  1. Evelyn Buck said

    Phyllis Morris legacy was not wrought by herself alone.She had help. Five Councillors consistently supported her actions .Their majority allowed resources from the town treasury to be used to process legal action against residents in the community.
    Three families were served with notice of intent on the Eve of Thanksgiving.
    “Solicitor/client privilege” allowed the issue to be taken behind closed doors for discussion under a shroud of secrecy.
    According to the Municipal Act,the only exception to open and public discussion of town business, is” to save the town harmless” or “to protect the privacy of an individual”

    Now there’s irony for you

  2. Anonymous said

    Sanity prevails and common sense becomes more common.

  3. integrity said

    Great article by Jesse Kline in today’s National Post:

    “No pity for spineless politicians who don’t respect free speech”

    Here’s the link:

  4. JOHN H SARGENT said

    Yes welcome back Aurora Citizen,your reason for disappearing understandable—wish the same could be said for this law suit not disappearing down the toilet were it belongs,,JOHN SARGENT

  5. Cut to the chase said

    I feel horrible for all of you. Many $’s and emotional hours spent defending our democracy and many more to come. Glad this will eventually work our way but I wish you did not have to carry this burden alone. If I had more $ as I would surely assist you.

  6. Anonymous said

    Will the former mayor be immortalized in the Guiness Book of World Records as upon shortly after leaving office been a party to three lawsuits?

    Quite an accomplishment.

  7. Sprite said

    Please, Sir, may I have some Stephanie, Robert the Bruce, Lucky Wife, John Sargent, Richard Johnson etc ?

  8. Grace Marsh said

    Bill, Elizabeth, Richard – I am so very happy to hear of this victory for you. One for the good guys for sure.

  9. sharon said

    Phew! The quote ‘Let saner heads prevail” comes to mind. Congratulations on this first and important victory. I just wish Ms. Morris would do the right thing by stopping any further nonsense.

  10. Costs of Morris said

    The plaintiff served three 3-year terms on Council and four years as Mayor, 1994 – 2000, 2003 – 2006 and 2006 – 2010.

    As a councillor the part-time salary for the period was in the area of $20,000 per year. The salary as mayor, including regional councillor and perks was in the area of $95,000 per year. These figures are subject to correction if they are inaccurate.

    The total cost of Morris was in the area of $560,000, again subject to correction if inaccurate.

    Can anyone advise as to what she was actually worth? Is this quantifiable? Did Aurora get value for its money?

  11. Glad to hear you’re alive and well, Aurora Citizen! Terrific post regarding terrific news. The battle, as you say, is not over, however a significant victory for free speech has been struck with Judge Brown’s ruling.

    Although things have been quiet, your situation has not been forgotten by so many in town. The lawsuit is still a major topic being discussed, fuelled further each time Morris shows her face. The wedge she has driven into this town will be a stain on whatever tattered legacy she leaves with Aurora.

    I hope there is some sense of pride the Bishenden, Johnson, and Hogg familes can take in facing head on, this baseless spiteful lawsuit, and having now been delivered this common-sense ruling that confirms what we always knew.

    Matt Maddocks.

  12. Sprite said

    Welcome Back !

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