Once again Mayorgate has found itself to be a target of threat, intimidation and harassment. As the publisher and sole author of all the articles published I have come to expect the possibility of attack by those who fear the truth, who fear the public light on fact and who fear being questioned. Every article I publish I do so after researching every facet and only after being sure that hard evidence is at hand to support all of what is said, then and only then do I publish. No article that I write is done so as an opinion or a hot winded editorial, and I will stand behind each and every question raised, still waiting for an answer. When a response is a simple refusal to clarify a given point, and on the explanation of “just because,” then enough suspicion exists to require further probing.
A situation was brought to my attention regarding a senior citizens' retirement home. The details seemed to be rather astonishing but after an interview with an individual who had been fighting to find answers to some very damaging questions, plus the fact that a Queen's Council was willing to add more information, the need for research was affirmed. In the end, after lengthy interviews both with the individual and his Queen's Council, together with examination of documentation, and I must add legislation, an article was published on January 15th 2014. The article titled Seniors Languish In Intimidation was accompanied with an interview posted on YouTube, and it was one that could not be ignored.
On March 6th 2014 I signed for two registered letters, these were letters of the most cowardly threat, intimidation and harassment yet thrown at Mayorgate and at myself. What made them most offensive to dignity was that one of the threats was addressed to my daughter Alexandra. The threats were issued by a Rachel Slingerland with the law firm Martens Lingard LLP, on behalf of clients, the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. All responsibility for this attempt to silence Mayorgate falls onto the shoulders of the Paderewski Board of Directors.
Lawyer Rachel Slingerland is a young lawyer, and youth has the need to impress which is an uncontrollable urge. She for some reason believes that simply because she issued some papers of threat, that that in itself will silence the freedom of speech. It does not! Sadly for young Slingerland she has made some statements that are so greatly removed from the truth, that they can only be conceived as the opposite. Slingerland will, I am sure, hide behind the lawyer's mantra, “in the best interest of her client,” which seems to excuse everything. Hiding behind this mantra lawyers are able to butcher the law, truth, dignity and even their code of ethics, simply read the article relating to lawyer John Willey.
Ms. Slingerland joined Martens Lingard as an Associate lawyer in July 2013, she is indeed without any experience. Someone should inform this young lawyer that we live in Canada and not Syria or Putin's Russia. Every threat against Mayorgate has been dealt with publicly as I have nothing to hide.
On LinkedIn, Ms. Slingerland's own summary of herself is “I am a young lawyer eager to build a practice,” and Martens Lingard's official web page under her photograph states, “Rachel prides herself on her passionate advocacy for her clients. She is eager to bring energy and enthusiasm in the legal profession.” Energy and enthusiasm can be excuses to hide something else, as they are here. Slingerland decided to launch her attack and intimidation against not only me, but against an individual who has no connection to Mayorgate other than providing caricature art for some of the articles. She had done this on behalf and with the approval of the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. Obviously Slingerland found some reason to advise the members of the Board of Directors that she had grounds to attack and intimidate an innocent individual. Youth and enthusiasm rarely thinks of consequences, now Slingerland will receive a crash course in a simple fact of life.
Alexandra Davidoff is a talented artist. Her work has recently been on exhibition in New Delhi, India in a collection with 100 other artists. In addition to the exhibition her work will be featured in a published book from the exhibition. Alexandra has provided art for other authors to illustrate and provide a visual to their own characters and story lines. She exhibits her work on a number of artist websites and out of a total of 138 posts that I have made Alexandra has provided 48 caricatures. As an artist Alexandra has grown developing and nurturing her talent and at the same time her reputation. At the time of the article on the issues surrounding Leo Skorski and the Paderewski Society Home, Alexandra had not supplied any artwork for the article. Alexandra has no connection to Mayorgate other than the fact that she is my daughter. Nor did Alexandra have anything to do with the recording of the video interview of Leo Skorski. None of the facts mattered to Slingerland, or the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home.
The 'Home' page for Mayorgate clearly from its first day states that I am the publisher and that no one else is associated with any portion of the blog. Slingerland in her “passionate advocacy for her clients” decided the truth was unacceptable, so she had to of received consent from the Board of Directors of the Paderewski to lie. Slingerland goes on to make a number of statements in relation to Alexandra Davidoff without foundation in truth, or fact.
These are Slingerland's own words from her first threat addressed to Alexandra Davidoff, “On the website it states that you draw characters and as such, you are a party to every article that is posted on the website.” Slingerland's language is somewhat less than correct. Alexandra Davidoff is an artist and she has contributed caricatures, not 'characters'. An artist whether for the New Yorker or Toronto Star, or for that matter any publication provides visual art and that does not associate the artist to the content, but such facts are of no importance to Slingerland. Slingerland's attempt at intimidation began with these words, “damaging statements you have written about the Board of Directors on YouTube and on your and your father's website.”
What is going to be most interesting is to have Slingerland in a court room in front of a judge, there the lies have to be proven. Nowhere on “the website” does “it state” that Alexandra draws characters. The “website” has an about page which clearly states that as publisher of Mayorgate no one else writes or is involved with the articles. Yet Slingerland claims that “on the website it states...,” intentional malicious prosecution has its consequences and no one will give an inch of room for Slingerland or the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home to back away from this now.
As a journalist I am responsible to provide articles that are based on fact, without editorialising or stating opinion. Each and every article on Mayorgate has been put through this most basic criteria. I research the information, I ensure that I search out any applicable legislation and verify the credibility of any source. Also as a journalist I am not making accusations nor allegations but I am without a doubt raising questions, and as such am always aware of the advice of a favourite cartoon hero of mine, Eugene Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants; “questions are a danger to you and a burden to others.”
The issues regarding the Paderewski Society Home were brought to my attention because my articles are in depth and without pandering to any powers at large. They were raised by a Regional Councillor, an individual with a certain amount of credibility one would think. I had spoken at length with Leo Skorski, a man who had dedicated his time in the service of others. Leo is the recipient of a number of awards for his community work from both the province and local government. He is also the recipient of both the Gold Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals. In addition to Leo's impeccable credibility he had his lawyer, a Queen's Council, not only present during the interview but willing to discuss all the issues and answer questions.
Leo Skorski had proven his credibility, at no time with me had he accused anyone, but he did raise many questions. Documents were provided by Leo's lawyer that raised even more questions. Copies of letters from Niagara Regional Housing were nothing more than attempts to brush off the real issues, even a previous letter from Slingerland had only brought more doubt forward. Experience has proven when evasion is a tool then more questions are needed. As far as credibility of Niagara Regional Government stands that is a Pandora's Box that Slingerland should not even consider touching with her lack of experience.
After everything was said and done, I still researched further by looking at legislation, the conflict of interest rulings and guidelines, and the by-laws set out by the Paderewski Society home. A journalist is responsible under the laws that govern libel to ensure that what he publishes is to the best of his knowledge to be the truth. I not only felt that my article justified questions to be raised, I had provided documentation in the article which supported the reasoning behind the need to find answers. No answers were provided by NRH nor by the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. Experience has proven to me that when in doubt question even more.
In the papers served on me on the 18th of March, Slingerland on page 4 decides for whatever reason to quote from Mayorgate's 'About' page. She says that Mayorgate is “described to be a,” and then in her own quotation marks “response to the censorship imposed by the local press in St. Catharines.” Motivation behind this is somewhat difficult to understand, the response will be less so. As she had decided to put this in legal documents, I as publisher of Mayorgate have the legal right to respond publicly. Now a second Pandora's Box will be opened. I have an Integrity Commissioner recorded who raises the issue of how the local press had totally ignored her and the investigation of a City Councillor, this Integrity Commissioner was shocked at the actions of the local press.
Since Mayorgate's 'About' page was read it had to be clear as to who is responsible for all the content. Yet Slingerland further extends herself on page 4 of the documents served. This time Slingerland correctly states that Alexandra is my daughter, it is also true that as an artist she has contributed on occasion her caricature art to my Mayorgate, as she had contributed art elsewhere. What follows is again hard to understand, as she claims Alexandra “also operates the website known as Mayorgate.” As human beings we often need justification for our actions, it is how our minds work. But in this case it is impossible to understand such a statement of claim by a lawyer. In court this will be interesting to discuss and both Alexandra and I can't wait to hear how Slingerland can twist facts.
Rachel Slingerland first sent her initial threat by registered mail, it was dated February 27th 2014. Reading this initial threat and the second statement of claim one tries to wonder if one and the same lawyer prepared both. Consistency is a key component to any claim. Yet what is said in the first threat and then what is set out in the second are quite different. Gone is the manic rhetoric of “you wrote” anything in relation to Alexandra, now it is replaced with a more ludicrous statement that she “operates the website.” Yet even that is not the wildest change.
In the February 27th threat Slingerland states that the “lawsuit will allege in part, that you were motivated by anger and or malice in making these defamatory statements and that you made these statements knowing them to be false.” Here lies the epicentre, ground zero or whatever cliche one wishes to use. I have covered more than one defamation trial and I will paraphrase one judge and the warning she gave an individual claiming to be defamed. This judge said that defamation or libel law is a quagmire, in particular when relating to the internet. The judge made it clear that proving defamation is difficult and proving intent more so, but without intent there is no defamation. I want Ms. Slingerland and her clients in court. Everything that I have said here is a response to her and her clients. Everything that I have said here is a response to her attack on my Mayorgate and on an innocent individual. Though the main reason and explanation has been left till last.
Rachel Slingerland is a lawyer employed by Martens Lingard LLP and she has only been there a short time, yet she is a lawyer. As a lawyer she is considered to be an officer of the court. Her own club of professional lawyers, the Law Society of Upper Canada, has a supposedly strict set of rules relating to professional ethics. A young lawyer getting her feet wet may find the need to prove daring, eagerness, and enthusiasm. Slingerland went way past all of this.
Back to the February 27th threat sent by registered mail. The date of Slingerland's letter is very important. My article relating to the issues at the Paderewski Society Home and the YouTube video interview of Leo Skorski were published January 15th 2014. Slingerland dated her letter not within 30 days of this date but on something else. Paragraph two (2) of the February 27th threat states: “Further on January 27, 2014 you wrote a letter to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority [RHRA] where you made allegations of senior abuse, neglect and inappropriate financial dealings of the Board of Directors of Paderewski.”
The RHRA is a provincial agency associated with the Registrar for Complaints for potential seniors abuse, under the legislation set out by the provincial government. All correspondence, all contact and all information provided to the RHRA is strictly confidential. The RHRA does not share or divulge the identity of any individual who contacts them, otherwise many seniors would be too afraid to seek help. Whatever I wrote them was absolutely confidential.
Visiting the RHRA's website one can find the RHRA Information Access & Privacy Code, it is a five page document signed by the Chair of the RHRA and by Minister Linda Jeffrey, the Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing. As Slingerland's experience is lacking I have provided a link here directly to the RHRA website, and have published page 1 of the Access & Privacy Code, with highlights. This has also been done for the benefit of both Ronald E. Martens and Peter J. Lingard. My email response to Slingerland dated March 14th 2014 was copied to both of these partners for a specific reason. Lawyers have a tendency to what one can say find escape doors when needed. In this situation I did not want the senior partners, whose names are on the masthead of the law firm to claim that they were not aware of the full circumstances. Both Ronald Martens and Peter Lingard have been made fully aware of the actions by Rachel Slingerland and are equally responsible for all the consequences.
To quote part II, legislation from page one of the RHRA Information Access & Privacy Code: “The RHRA is subject to the Retirement Homes Act, 2004 and has specific obligations under each statute to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information.”
Every word here is subject to legislation, subject to law, and a breach constitutes a breach of law. The policy continues to state, “The RHRA collects, uses, discloses and retains information for purposes related to the RHRA's duties or powers, and in compliance with its confidentiality obligations contained in sections 113 and 114 of the Act. Specifically, section 113 of the Act requires that the RHRA, including all officers, directors, employees and agents, preserve secrecy and keep confidential any information, including personal information and personal health information, obtained in the course of performing a duty or exercising a power under the Act.”
Unlike Slingerland no quote is edited to suit one's self. The law itself and the Privacy Code is explained and then the most important part. Again quoting from the RHRA Privacy Code, “Section 113 contains a number of exceptions, which allow the RHRA and people acting on behalf of the RHRA to disclose information in specific circumstances, including:
(b) to a ministry, department or agency of a government engaged in the administration of the Act.”
Rachel Slingerland is not part of any ministry, nor is she a member of a department or agency of a government engaged in the administration of the Act. Slingerland is a lawyer, employed by a private law firm and Slingerland is in possession of an illegally obtained document. Slingerland is a lawyer, a lawyer with a law degree and supposedly knows the law. As a lawyer with enthusiasm to boot Slingerland committed what now constitutes a criminal act of harassment with her threat dated February 27th 2014.
Now the real questions begin. Tracey Fairfield, Intake Supervisor at RHRA stated in a letter dated February 10th 2014 to me, “I have contacted the Not-for-Profit Housing Manager at Niagara Regional Housing to report the concerns noted in your letter.” Here begins the detective work. Slingerland clearly states in her threat of February 27th 2014, “you wrote a letter to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority...”. Illegally gained confidential information, and a breach of legislation. Question 1: How did Slingerland get this? Question 2: Did Slingerland get this directly from someone at NRH? Question 3: Did a member of the Board of Directors of the Paderewski supply this to Slingerland? Question 4: If yes to number 3 then who was it? Question 5: Who at NRH sold private and confidential information protected by legislation to a private individual or private law firm? Question 6: Why did this individual at NRH supply this confidential information if not for exchange of cash? Question 7: What does NRH gain in the attempt to silence the freedom on speech and to silence questions asked regarding the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home? Question 8: How does a lawyer decide to use illegal documents and/or confidential information in what is clearly criminal harassment now? Question 9: How do the senior partners of a law firm when made aware of the situation decide to simply ignore the breach of law by a lawyer they employ?
As I have said I left the best till last. A criminal breach of law has been committed by an individual at Niagara Regional Housing. That individual sold private and confidential information protected by legislation. It was sold either to a member of the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home or directly to lawyer Rachel Slingerland of Martens Lingard LLP. Now it is time for the police to track down the information and lay charges. Slingerland took an oath, all that mumbo-jumbo about the law and stuff. Her actions prove an alarming lack of respect for the law.
In her eagerness to impress Slingerland attacked an innocent individual, Alexandra Davidoff. Slingerland's enthusiasm allowed her to use illegally gained documents and/or information, protected by legislation, to carry out her threats. She did all of this acting on behalf of her clients, the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. The senior partners were made aware of the situation, of the illegal and confidential information their lawyer had used. Their response was to ignore the facts.
Now come the consequences. This is my public response to her threats on behalf of her clients, the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. She will get my official written response within the 20 days. I want her in a court of law, but before that the RHRA has conducted an investigation and the result far from a happy one for her and the NRH. Now the police are being asked for an investigation. In return both Alexandra and I will be filing lawsuits against every individual member of the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home and much more. Rachel Slingerland decided to break the law and to threaten in order to shut down freedom of speech. This is Mayorgate's and my response.
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