Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Morris Lawsuit Keeps Aurora (and herself) in the Public Eye

Posted by auroracitizen on August 21, 2011

One of the many definitions of irony is “incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity”. Truly the Phyllis Morris lawsuit is a perfect definition of irony.

Her alleged reason for beginning this lawsuit was because anonymous blog comments subjected her to “ridicule, hatred and contempt.”

However, in truth, it appears her own actions have damaged her reputation — well outside the boundaries of fair Aurora — far more than anything written in any local blog or newspaper.

Here’s another example of the coverage our former Mayor is generating for herself and our town.

Court of Public Opinion Renders Verdict in Phyllis Morris case: Guilty of Gross Stupidity

Phyllis Morris has gained a lot of notoriety since she lost her re-election bid to keep her job as mayor of Aurora, Ontario.  It was during that election that she got just a little too big for her own britches and started suing anyone and everyone who was related to a couple of blog posts she didn’t like. Read More

7 Responses to “Morris Lawsuit Keeps Aurora (and herself) in the Public Eye”

  1. Tim the Enchanter said


    Mean-spirited, insulting, vulgar, foul-mouthed language seems to be de rigueur for online exchanges.
    Anyone following a thread of comments concerning a political issue online has no doubt been exposed to such harsh language.
    Much of it is anonymous, although the cloak of anonymity can easily disappear when an aggrieved person launches a defamation lawsuit.
    But should courts be the arbiters in disputes between warring posters, or should the posters be left to fight it out online with victory being determined in the blogosphere?
    That was the issue at stake in the lawsuit by John Baglow, aka Dr. Dawg, and Miss Mew, owner of a left-wing blog site, against Roger Smith, aka Peter O’Donnell, an active blogger on the right.
    Baglow is opposed to Canada’s military operation in Afghanistan and has been critical of the government for not taking steps to repatriate Omar Khadr.
    He believes Kahdr’s detention is a violation of international law and refers to his trial as a “judicial lynching.”
    Baglow doesn’t hold back in his criticism of Stephen Harper’s government (a “horrific gang of sub-literate hoodlums”) or Conservative supporters (“yokels with pitchforks”).
    So, perhaps he shouldn’t have been taken aback when Smith referred to Baglow as “one of the Taliban’s more vocal supporters.”
    But taken aback Baglow was. He sued Smith for defamation, claiming his reputation would be lowered if the public believed he supported enemies of the Canadian Forces.
    The first task for the court was deciphering what was meant by the allegation Baglow was “one of the Taliban’s more vocal supporters.”
    Was it an assertion of fact that misrepresented Baglow’s views or was it merely an expression of opinion in the context of an ongoing thread where the two sides debated the validity of Khadr’s trial, using loose and hyperbolic language?
    Justice Peter Annis viewed the words as opinion, noting Smith was referring to the effects of Baglow’s views.
    In other words, Smith’s words didn’t have the literal meaning Baglow was an actual supporter of the Taliban, but that supporting Khadr’s position could have had the effect of supporting the Taliban.
    Just as no reasonably-informed person would view the moniker “Taliban Jack” as being defamatory of Jack Layton, reasonably-informed people would view Smith’s words as being comment, not capable of lowering Baglow’s reputation.
    Thus, we shouldn’t judge Baglow’s reputation in a vacuum but in the context of the back-and-forth debate in which each side was using loose, insulting language.
    More significantly, Justice Annis applied what I call the “fair fight” rule.
    It’s common sense. Two people voluntarily engage in a public, verbal brawl. While some of their comments might be seen as offside, they were made in the spirit of the brawl, with both sides using loose and colourful language.
    Neither ought to be allowed to cry foul and run to the courts.
    By participating in the debate, each side must be taken to understand mud may be thrown and some may stick.
    As Justice Annis stated, “Internet blogging is a form of public conversation. By the back-and-forth character, it provides an opportunity for each party to respond to disparaging comments before the same audience in an immediate or relatively contemporaneous time frame … Bringing an action on the comment in mid-debate runs contrary to the rules.”
    He isn’t saying there can never be a successful defamation lawsuit in such a live exchange, only that the context of the debate is highly relevant in determining the meaning of the words used and whether the words could really lower one’s reputation.
    In other words, by exposing your views and participating in a public debate, you are implicitly accepting a certain level of abuse. Sometimes the abuse may be hurtful, but as long as it stays within the rough boundaries of the debate it’s a fair fight.

  2. Sprite said

    Invite Mr. di Armanii to visit Aurora.

  3. Triple anyone? said

    Can someone at AC pass along the fact to Christopher di Armani that our former mayor is actually involved in three current lawsuits.

    If he can get steamed up over one, what can he do for an encore with three?

  4. Stephanie said

    Brilliant blog posting by Christopher di Armani. The topic has reached across the country, while demonstrating the difference between “famous” and “infamous”.

  5. Tim the Enchanter said

    Not exactly related but perhaps a cautionary tale regarding small-town politics

  6. Fool's gold said

    I wonder if the mighty mouthed Morris is going to call her lawyers into action and file a defamation action against Mr. di Armani in British Columbia?

    Possibly not, as her legal credit card must be getting maxed out by now.

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