Reproduced below is the Media Release distributed by The Current in response to the release issued on Oct.19 by Madawaska Valley Township and Council following the Mayor’s comments at the Council meeting that day. The Township’s action in going out of its way to post the Costs Submissions of Wishart Law on the MV website is, according to The Current’s lawyer, “highly irregular.” In view of this, The Current requested that the Plaintiffs’ Costs Submissions in response should also be published in order to provide full transparency. This did not happen, so below this release you will see links to the Decision of Justice Doyle and the Costs Submissions of the Plaintiffs’ counsel in response to those from Wishart Law. The Judge’s Decision on the issue of costs is awaited.
Paul and MadValley Media v. Madawaska Valley Township and members of Council — Response to Township and Council Press Release dated Oct.19 2021
This legal action was commenced by The Madawaska Valley Current and its owners in early 2020 claiming that the Township and members of Council abused their power by making false allegations at a Council meeting they hoped would irreparably damage the Plaintiffs’ reputations and that of The Current. The motivation for their conduct is claimed to arise from hostility generated because of identified examples of The Current’s investigative reporting which had proved to be a thorn in their sides.
Prior to resorting to the courts, the Plaintiffs gave the Defendants the opportunity to retract their accusations and apologize, and to make a charitable donation of $500. This offer was rejected. In the absence of an assurance, therefore, that such attempted interference with the freedom of the press would not be repeated, legal proceedings were commenced. The Township and Council then instructed its lawyers, Wishart Law of Sault Ste. Marie, to apply to the Court to strike out the action, claiming that they were entitled to what is commonly known as a “gag order.”
The application resulted in the Decision of Justice Adriana Doyle of the Superior Court of Ontario which was released on Aug.6 2021. Her Honour, in a 47-page Decision, dismissed the Defendants’ request for a gag order and further stated that “the public interest weighs in favour of allowing the action to proceed to a determination on its merits.” The Defendants had claimed that it was in the public interest that the action be dismissed.
At the Oct.19 Council meeting, Mayor Kim Love in her opening address advised that the Decision had been appealed. She also referred to Wishart Law’s costs which she said had been paid by the Township’s insurer, and provided a link on the Township website to Wisharts’ Costs Submissions that had been filed with the Court. However despite being requested to do so, she did not provide a link to the Costs Submissions of the winning parties (Plaintiffs) prepared by their own counsel. She was asked to do this in the interests of ensuring full transparency. Also, she has not even provided a link for Madawaska Valley residents to read Justice Doyle’s Decision.
The Costs Submissions that the Mayor is depriving residents of reading show that Wishart Law has been paid the extraordinary sum of $360,000 for a “straightforward application” – which they lost. The Plaintiffs’ counsel points out to the Court that this sum is largely the result of using multiple fee earners of Wishart Law at the same time, and even in some cases repeating the same tasks, what he describes as “over-lawyering.” He also asks the Court to take into consideration that the use of such a large team should be viewed in light of the fact that their opponents were self-represented.
Also, he points out that the maximum amount that the Court could award the Plaintiffs in this action, even if they were 100 percent successful, is $125,000. He adds that therefore the entire claim by now (and he accuses the Defendants of unnecessary delay) could have been decided “on its merits” for a fraction of $360,000 which sum amounts to nearly three times the amount claimed. In contrast, the amount claimed by the Plaintiffs for their costs is $30,000.
The effect of this appeal will almost certainly frustrate Justice Doyle’s intent that “the public interest” be served until some time after the next municipal election in October 2022, thereby depriving voters of learning whether the current Council acted in the public interest, as opposed to their own interests. It will also add significantly to the $360,000 that has already been paid to Wishart Law.
- Decision of Justice Doyle dated Aug.6 2021 (This is 47 pages long, refer to paras.218-222 on p.46 for her conclusions.)
- Responding Costs Submissions of the Plaintiffs dated Oct.12 2021
MV Township’s October 19 Press Release explains that the defence against the allegations is being funded by the Township’s insurance company. Wonder what a fly on the wall observes when the Head of Claims asks staff to check the company’s magic money tree offer to ‘fund’ $360 k of legal bills. Perhaps, at least raised eyebrows, seeing the Judge’s decision (para. 26)? Therein is quoted language from a defendant holding public office, considered so unwholesome that judicial censorship was deemed necessary in the public interest.
David J. Winfield
That’s a ridiculous amount of (not their) money to spend, when this could have all been avoided. I also don’t understand how all the councilors can be in agreement with this kind of spending, when it mostly comes down to one councilor’s reprehensible behaviour
I can understand the Mayor being annoyed at The Current; but after a day or two, common sense should have prevailed. An apology and charitable donation – and this whole debacle could have been avoided.
Well, ain’t I the Nosey Parker! With ongoing curiosity about all this business between the Paul’s/Mad Valley Current and MV council and staff, I put aside various chores and slogged through most of documents linked in the article. About half way through my reading, I was reminded of a facetious notion I entertained a dozen or so years ago as I became aware of conflicts arising in various townships over vested interests, noses-out-of-joint, flawed or disputed council decisions, historical animosities and the like.
Facetious it may have been, but my notion might yet have merit, if not traction. To wit: Council decisions in any township that might be expected to run to more than a ten or fifteen thousand expenditure be decided by a council in some other County township. At the very least referred thereto for a logic review.
I certainly can’t speak on their behalf, but I can’t help thinking that the reeve, mayor, CAO, whoever, from Admaston-Bromley or Laurentian Valley, say, would look at this debacle and shake their heads. “Five hundred bucks and an apology?? Why doncha stop being stupid!??”
When will our mayor & council grow up and stop this nonsense? The amount of hard-earned income of township taxpayers that they have wasted is mind boggling. We have so many critical initiatives that could have been funded instead of pissing money away because they were called out for behaving badly.
WOW, unbelievable, MV council should be ashamed and embarrassed by this waste of resources and taxpayer money.. What now is council hoping to accomplish???
With this sizable cost to Intact insurance of $360,000 and still counting will more than likely impact our Municipal insurance costs going forward. What exactly is the municipality trying to cover up that they have gone to this length? There surely is something big. I cannot understand this level of thinking that would bring them to just simply not apologize. Should we be following the money here? This is all very odd…inquiring minds want to know