Liberals wanted to sue opposition; instead they ran away

1322856886207_ORIGINALA most interesting letter of legal opinion written on Nov. 20, 2012, by former Supreme Court Justice, Ian Binnie, popped up with the latest regurgitation of Gas Plant e-mails. Justice Binnie replies to David Livingston, McGuinty’s former chief of staff asked about the possibility of suing opposition members citing outrageous allegations made by PC leader Tim Hudak and MPP Todd Smith in Question Period in October of 2012.

Hmmm this sounds familiar – like The Nexterror SLAPP lawsuit against Esther Wrightman where she is accused of unfairly competing with NextEra by referring to the company as Nexterror. McGuinty got good advice and, unlike Nexterror, he followed that advice. The letter of opinion is a reality lecture wherein Justice Binnie, with rather dry humour, paints out the possible scenarios and why for Dalton, this notion of suing his enemies is not a good notion at all.

Justice Binnie begins, “Many of the allegations…are in our view clearly defamatory…the law provides a low threshold. It is protective of reputations.” That sounds promising. He further states, “Mr. Hudak’s statement is also defamatory”

Hudak had said: “Not only did Dalton McGuinty misuse a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money, he tried to paper over it, cover it up (and) keep the details from the public.” Remember, this was written on Nov.29, 2012. As it turns out, what Hudak said isn’t too far off the mark.

Justice Binnie lays out what the opposition would use as defence.

The Defence of Fair Comment

  • the comment must be on a matter of public interest
  • the comment must be based on fact
  • the comment must be cognizable as opinion rather than a simple allegation of fact
  • the test is whether any person…could honestly express that opinion on the proved facts
  • was the comment made as a result of “malice” – expressed another way, is it the “honest belief” of the person expressing it or is there some other malicious intent.

Binnie then quotes from Simpson vs. Mair (2008) , a case which amongst other things, thoroughly dispensed with the idea of “fair-minded comment”,with the purpose of never again seeing it raised as the basis of argument. “Political partisans are constantly astonished at the sheer unfairness of criticisms made by their opponents (but) Trenchant criticism which otherwise meets the “honest belief” criterion ought not to be actionable because… it crosses some ill-defined line of “fair-mindedness.”

Binnie then points out that in an earlier case, Cherneskey vs. Armadale Publishing (1979), Justice Dickson wrote, “The basis of our public life is that the crank, the enthusiast, may say what he honestly thinks as much as the reasonable person who sits on a jury.” So, Dalton, are we over this fairness BS?

The Alternative Defence of Qualified Privilege
Justice Binnie reminds McGuinty that statements in the legislature and even comments outside the legislature are protected by the defence of “qualified privilege”. He goes on to note that McGuinty was the beneficiary of just such a case in 2000 when he accused Environment Minister Tony Clement of corruption for writing a letter of support in a matter before the OMB. With a cast like this, blowing and sucking comes easily.

The Defence of Justification
Now things get really sticky. Justice Binnie observes, “Defamatory words are presumed to be false. Truth furnishes a defence….We expect that the defendants here would plead justification and that the resulting litigation would lead to a media circus…a very intrusive discovery process…On a motion for production of third party records…attempts would be made to access a great many more ostensibly confidential or privileged materials…we think a defamation action would prolong the media controversy and do…more harm than good.”

Whew!!! Was he ever prescient!

Parliamentary Privilege Issues
Apparently McGuinty considered going to court to seek some sort of intervention/direction to fix the bad behavior of the opposition in Parliament. Here Justice Binnie warns McGuinty that there is a long history of the the Courts not telling the legislature how to run its affairs, “If the House is to be reined in, it must be done by a vote in the House itself.”

Tor Star Dalton McguintyA Panel of Experts “Wise Persons”
Next on the list of notions is a proposal to strike a “panel” to consider the propriety of the activities of the opposition. I’m assuming that this is something that McGuinty would like – it has the halo of “fairness” administered by a wise man. Sighhhh, Justice Binnie wonders who such a wise man might be. He ponders a list of suitable candidates, but clearly he doesn’t believe there’s much chance that such a person would “side with the government” and spank those naughty opposition members.

The Final solution

In the end, it was simpler to just run away.

Bullies always do.

8 thoughts on “Liberals wanted to sue opposition; instead they ran away

  1. That low-life lying snake wanted to sue someone else???? He is the King of corruption, and it is obvious to everyone! KWynne is now the Queen. She will be going down, just like he did!

  2. He launched a provincial suit against tobacco companies because he needed to get some $$$$ somehow.
    A colossal hypocrite….Read the statement of claim below and replace tobacco with wind turbines.

    http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/tobacco_litigation.asp
    On September 29, 2009, Ontario filed a $50-billion claim against several tobacco companies under the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2009.

    This lawsuit is currently before the courts. For more information about this litigation, read the following frequently asked questions:

    Why are you suing the manufacturers of tobacco products?

    We are suing tobacco companies in order to recover past and ongoing health care costs due to tobacco-related illness.

    The financial and human toll of tobacco use is unacceptable. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Ontario. It kills 13,000 people a year – three times the combined number of deaths caused by alcohol, drugs, suicide, homicide and car crashes.

    Tobacco-related disease costs Ontario’s health care system $1.93 billion in direct health care costs and $5.8 billion in productivity losses each year.

    What is Ontario’s claim against the tobacco companies?

    We are seeking to recover $50 billion in damages for the past and ongoing health care costs linked to tobacco-related illness, caused by a breach of duty on the part of the tobacco companies.

    Our Statement of Claim alleges that the defendants:
    •knew about the addictiveness of cigarettes and the health damages they caused
    •deceived the public by misrepresenting the risks
    •failed to warn the public about the dangers of smoking
    •promoted cigarettes to children and teens
    •did not take all available steps to reduce the risks caused by their products.

    A copy of Ontario’s Statement of Claim can be obtained from the Superior Court of Justice at 393 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. Maps and contact information can be found here.

    Who are you suing?

    The 14 defendants include companies that currently manufacture and sell cigarettes in Ontario or who have manufactured and sold cigarettes in the province over the period relevant to the action (approximately 1953 to present).

    The action also names the past and present parent companies of these manufacturers as defendants, whether they are based in Ontario or abroad.

    Defendants include:
    •Rothmans Inc.
    •Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.
    •Carreras Rothmans Limited
    •Altria Group, Inc.
    •Philip Morris U.S.A. Inc.
    •Philip Morris International Inc.
    •JTI-Macdonald Corp.
    •R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
    •R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International Inc.
    •Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited
    •British American Tobacco P.L.C.
    •B.A.T. Industries P.L.C.
    •British American Tobacco (Investments) Limited
    •Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers’ Council.

    What is the status of Ontario’s lawsuit?

    On September 29, 2009, Ontario filed a $50-billion claim against 14 tobacco defendants under the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2009.

    In 2011, seven foreign tobacco companies brought motions challenging the Court’s jurisdiction over this action, arguing that the Ontario government could not sue them because they were not located in the province. These foreign companies are the past and present parent companies of the Canadian defendants. On January 4, 2012, the Superior Court of Justice released its decision to dismiss each of the foreign tobacco defendants’ motions. This decision paves the way for Ontario’s lawsuit to continue. Copies of all Ontario court decisions can be found at CanLII.

    On April 3, 2012, the Court ordered the companies to pay the costs incurred by the Province to defend the application, in the amount of more than $577,000, to be paid within 30 days.

    The defendants have since appealed the decisions in the areas of both jurisdiction and costs. In addition, some of the domestic defendants have also brought motions to strike the claim and for other particulars that will need to be heard and decided by the court. This matter is before the courts.

    What are the next steps?

    Ontario will continue to vigorously pursue this litigation on behalf of taxpayers and all Ontarians who have been impacted by tobacco-related illness, and will resist any delays in moving this action forward.

    What other steps has the Ontario government taken to reduce smoking-related illness in Ontario?

    Ontario is working on a number of fronts to reduce tobacco-related illness and death through the Smoke Free Ontario Strategy. This includes measures to help people quit smoking, to ensure that young people don’t pick up the habit in the first place, and to protect Ontarians from exposure to second-hand smoke.

    To learn more about these initiatives, visit ontario.ca/smokefree.

  3. Wow,good read funny how the gov so hard pressed about Tobacco!?

    Gee does a field of tobacco drive downs neighbors property values? Does it ruin livelyhoods and put residents in harms way?

    Do the leaves keep people awake? Are there fire, ice and safety issues when u drive by the fields?

    Does the crop cause stress and illnesses and blight the scenic country views? Does the fields kill wildlife and ruin prime lands?

    No to all the above, its the man made chemicals that turn the crop into smokes but no one is putting it at gunpoint to your mouths.

    Wind turbines are far worse and our gov is blind to that! Putting them down our throats!

    How long will it take before they wake up?

    • That is right, when was the last time anyone forced a cigarette on you, especially someone from the government that was supposed to protect us. Did the MOE and the MNR rush in to spend our money to protect the tobacco companies???? But the government still holds their slimy hands out for a big cut of the blood money. Heads need to roll!!!

  4. This present Government is basically coming apart at the seams…it is so close to having a criminal lawsuit brought against it that all it is doing now is trying to spin it’s way through another day of existence!…….this is crisis management 101 and would be a prime example for all business students to use for lesson on NOT how to do business!
    And we pay these idiots????

  5. When will this all cave in on the wind turbine crap and S%$# hit the fan. I am tired of waiting when will karma happen to the Wynne propaganda machine and all the BS is finally brought to light. They as in fiberals have to be under a microscope now and people have to be watching what does it take? JEEEEZZZZZ for crying out loud enough allready

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *