Madawaska Valley Council and the Township have suffered another setback in their attempt to stop a lawsuit against them alleging abuse of power and defamation brought by The Current and its owners. They had appealed the Decision of Justice Doyle dated August 6 2021 which dismissed MV’s attempt to “strike out” (i.e. stop) the legal proceeding through use of a gag order. Click HERE for earlier report. The appeal was argued before three Justices of the Ontario Court of Appeal on May 26 2022 and their Decision was released on Monday of this week. The dismissal of the appeal was a unanimous decision.
The Agenda of the MV Council in Committee meeting held Tuesday June 7 was amended at the last moment to include an in camera update from Wishart Law on “Court File No. CV-21-00000002-0000.” The phrase is routinely used by Council to refer to this lawsuit. If Council had not been immediately made aware of the outcome of the appeal when the Decision was released on Monday, they certainly learned of it during the in camera update they received the following day but no mention of it was made by Mayor Love, who had previously advised residents of the appeal, when Council returned to open session.
In Court on May 26 lawyer Paul Cassan put forward several grounds why MV’s appeal should be allowed, each of which the Court of Appeal Justices considered and then rejected with reasons in a ten-page Decision. In their summary of the facts, they made reference to there having been a history of “considerable ill will on both sides.” They also – as had Justice Doyle – referred to the offer from The Current’s publisher to take no legal steps in exchange for an apology and a donation of $500 to the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation. The Current and its owners were represented by Justin Safayeni and Karen Bernofsky of the Toronto law firm, Stockwoods.
This constitutes the second unsuccessful attempt by MV Council and the Township to overturn an order made by Justice Doyle. The previous one related to an Order she made requiring CAO Sue Klatt to re-attend for cross-examination and produce documents that she had refused to disclose. Wishart Law’s application to be allowed to appeal her Order in the Divisional Court was immediately withdrawn following a preliminary case conference by a Divisional Court Justice who described it as wasting the time of three Justices and [their] clients’ money.
Submissions will now be made to the Court of Appeal on responsibility for payment of the costs associated with the appeal.