We have in Canada a system of rule-of-law. When any citizen believes that someone has contravened the law, or committed a tort, our justice system allows and encourages citizens to ask the judiciary to consider their claim of the other party’s wrongdoing and to make a remedy as the court may deem appropriate. Any citizen can ask the courts to do this through a plaintiff’s claim or an application if it is a civil matter, or through an “information” or a request to law enforcement officials if it is a criminal or provincial offenses matter.
In accordance with my rights as a citizen, and in accordance with my rights under the Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights, I have submitted to the courts that the people of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula have been wronged by several people on several occasions.
I have brought applications before the courts to have Jim Turner removed from council, to have John Close removed from the Police Services Board and to have several members removed from the BIA Board of Management, all for alleged contraventions of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
These are not proceedings against the Town. They are proceedings against individuals.
They are very similar to the recent successful proceeding that removes Rob Ford (Toronto mayor) from office as of December 7 (barring a successful appeal).
Also in accordance with my rights as a citizen, on a different matter, I have submitted to the court that I have been personally wronged, and I have filed a suit for slander. It is against an individual, not the Town.
There was at November 20 one outstanding application to the court between me and the town, but that is not relevant to the current circumstances.
In addition to our right to accuse those we believe have wronged us, we also have the right to be protected from retaliation by those that we have accused.
On November 20, five Council members, namely John Close, Jay Kirkland, Karen Klages, Marilyn Bowman and Paul McKenzie, without any legal authority whatsoever, and without legitimate grounds, held court in closed session, charged me with an unspecified contravention, tried me, and convicted me. The sentence, a total ban from town hall property, appeared to be in open session, but it was really decided in closed session, out of sight of the public eye.
The ban motion was made by Councillor Bowman.
Councillors Thomas, Turner, and Standen were absent, and Councillor Jackson voted against the ban.
I am not even allowed to use the parking lot, or to use the outside washrooms.
If the ban were a punishment for me bringing proceedings against the Town, it would be vindictive, malicious, repugnant, unjust, and illegal.
But the ban against me is not retaliation for a proceeding against the Town.
The ban against me is clearly a retaliatory punishment for my bringing proceedings against individuals. This makes the ban even more vindictive, more malicious, more repugnant, more unjust, more improper, and just as illegal.
In spite of council claims to the contrary, the ban was clearly over my legal proceedings with individuals, and was for no other purpose, and was for no proper purpose.
I have requested, under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, documents, including part of the minutes of the November 20 closed session, which I believe will clearly demonstrate the impropriety of council’s actions.
The ban was made not only to prevent me from participating in the public policy process, but also to send a message to all residents:
“If you commence legal proceedings against any of us, or against our friends, or if you dare to criticize us, or if you fail to bow to the tyrant dictators Bowman, Klages, McKenzie, Close, and Kirkland, you will suffer.”
There was a second and closely related resolution (792) decided in closed session on November 20.
In resolution 792 council decided to steal from the treasury to pay not only their legal expenses, but also any court settlement arising from any proceeding against them or their friends.
So if a councillor (or a friend of the tyrant dictators) willfully slanders a resident, and that resident successfully sues that councillor for a million dollars, guess who pays the million dollars and the councillor’s legal fees. (The taxpayers.) That would mean a 15 per cent hike in property taxes.
And guess who walks away without any consequences. (The guilty councillor.)
You can’t buy insurance that covers you against a willful slander. You can’t buy insurance to cover your legal costs or settlement costs related to a Municipal Conflict of Interest proceeding (at least not until the accused is found not guilty).
Yet six members of council (and Councillor Jackson supported this one) voted themselves access to the treasury to protect themselves from any consequences of their willful contraventions of the law and from any consequences of their willful torts.
Resolution 792 is so vaguely broad that it could even include using the treasury to pay Rhonda Cook’s legal fees and settlement in her defense of an outstanding February counterclaim to her January 2012 libel suit. Legal fees to date are well in excess of $100,000 and the settlement asked for is $500,000.
Resolution 792 is as repugnant as resolution 793. Resolution 792 is just another example of a bunch of councillors putting their own interests ahead of the public interest and ahead of the law. (In fact for some councillors the public interest is not even on the list anymore. For a few the public interest never was on the list.)
It was made clear almost two years ago that John Close and an easily duped council were using the treasury to come after anyone who criticized them.
In a February 2011 letter to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times, I indicated the following about John Close’s press release and interview threats of legal action against a blogger (not me – I didn’t blog at the time):
“Mounting a defense against a libel suit can be financially crippling, even if the defense is successful. By indicating that council is taking legal action against the blogger (“We fully intend to take this to its conclusion.”….. “Those who want to slander, that’s the end of it.”), council, in my view, is sending a signal – “if you criticize us you will suffer financially”.
In trying to silence critics with intimidation, bullying, harassment, and implicit threat of financial ruin, council has stepped way over the line.
Council in its arrogance is trying to deny us our democratic right to participate, and our right of free speech, and our right to criticize what we believe is wrong.”
I knew at the time that council’s actions were very, very wrong. But little did I know just how low council would be willing to go.
The smell of corruption at town hall is so severe it seems hard to believe.
But it’s there; BIG TIME.
The good thing about the ban is that I will not have to bear the smell for a while.
I am confident that the courts will strike down both the ban resolution (793) and the legal fees and settlement costs resolution (792).
The legality of the ban resolution will be heard in court January 31.
The legality of resolution 792 will be heard February 7 or sooner.