Sunday, May 31, 2015

Year Five, What A Riot!

Dictionaries provide a rather cold view on what an anniversary is, simply explaining it as an event which occurred on the same date a previous year. Many a husband had found himself sleeping on the couch of one for simply having such a similar view. On the other hand, an anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate with pride the achievements of a past year and look forward to a new year filled with aspirations and confidence. After all, the past provided experience to expand, knowledge to grow and understanding to deepen, all that you do.

June broke out of the starting gates with an Ontario Provincial election. Locally in St. Catharines, the hometown of Mayorgate, incumbent Jim Bradley only had what may have been considered as comic relief for potential opposition. MPP Jim Bradley was the eventual winner for the Ontario Liberals as expected, and his opponents faded back to their pre-election routines. Former Niagara Regional Councillor Debbie Zimmerman objected to the article Degradation of Public Office which exposed the divorce filed by Mrs. Patricia McMullan. Zimmerman sued Mayorgate claiming she had been defamed and to date this issue is floating somewhere in legal limbo.

Any free society finds itself torn between the principle of privacy and the open access to information. All the provinces in Canada have Privacy Commissioners and all levels of government establish some type of privacy information officers, yet the line between what should be kept private and what information should be made freely available continues to rage. A greater problem arises when privacy officers themselves show bias, raising serious questions of objectivity as had been done in the article titled Privacy vs FOI.

July brought a bigger surprise from former St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan, in the form of a legal threat. Back in 2011 Brian McMullan had his lawyer Christopher Bittle of Lancaster, Brooks and Welch LLP., issue a Notice of Action. After Mayorgate's response nothing more was heard from the McMullan/Bittle tag team. Now in July 2014 Christopher Bittle of Lancaster, Brooks and Welch LLP. issued another threat in the form of a Notice of Action. Brian McMullan Opens Pandora's Box will in time become his epitaph. This time McMullan found the courage or simple arrogant stupidity to file a Statement of Claim and Mayorgate has three lawsuits on the go.

Traditional media with its political alliances has lost a great deal of trust from the public. A new world has opened with the growth of the internet and particularly with bloggers. Unlike the journalists of old who are paid by a media giant with political bias, bloggers are free from such influence. Mayorgate itself began life in opposition to the self imposed censorship which had taken absolute control in the Niagara Region. Now Mayorgate has the honour of fighting three lawsuits designed to shut down freedom of speech, to shut down discussion and to keep silent any facts which would be public interest.

Several months were spent on preparing Affidavits of Documents, Motions of Record, and traversing Examinations for Discovery relating to the lawsuit by the Board of Directors of the Paderewski Society Home. The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Rachel Slingerland of Martens Lingard LLP had tried to circumvent the Rules of Civil Procedure, particularly in relation to who would be examined during the Examination for Discovery. After weeks of ridiculous posturing Slingerland lost a Motion Hearing brought against her and the examinations were able to finally proceed. It was an interesting process which provided evidence given under oath which was invaluable.

In addition to the legal hoops which needed attention with the Paderewski action, Brian McMullan and the publisher of Mayorgate were ordered into a mandatory settlement conference for December 9th 2014. No settlement was reached even though McMullan's demands had been somewhat reduced to a new level. Mayorgate will not shake hands with an individual who is afraid of the truth and keeps deceit as a pet on a leash.

Municipal elections were scheduled for October 2014 and in preparation, Mayorgate sought out various forms of advertising. In the end, outdoor advertising was considered most appropriate and a local company called OMG Niagara was contacted. Contracts were signed, monies paid but no advertising appeared. Gary Dingwall owned and operated OMG Niagara; he left an obscene telephone message, and later sold off OMG and disappeared. Maryorgate's cheeky monkeys were left standing by the side of the road asking, “was it something we said?”

Mayorgate's roots have always been in the Niagara area covering issues often left in the cold by local media. Over the years such topics as flooding in a neighbourhood which left damaged homes, or a double amputee who was not able to safely maneuver his wheelchair into his bathroom, had caught the attention of Mayorgate and its readers. A terrible incident which left a young 22 year old with potentially life long implications brought back this fire and set the juices boiling again.

The world we live in had not changed much since December's article Looking Forward, Looking Back. At the end of that article a brief and possibly flitting wish for a better year ahead was in reality only a dream. Paris and January 7th brought a new horror with an explosion of violence aimed once again at innocent and defenceless victims.

Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in Paris found itself the target of Muslim extremists and twelve of its cartoonist/journalists were butchered. Terror is a weapon of cowards and its victims nearly always innocent and defenceless, people who have no chance of survival. No innocent victim of terror can be discounted as insignificant yet the world's reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks was astounding. This time governments around the world reacted with political measures that can only destroy the most treasured foundation of democracy. France tabled its Bill on Intelligence, Canada Bill 51, both claiming to strengthen the protection of its people against terrorists by reducing its own people's rights and freedoms.

The internet provided the forum that gave birth to Mayorgate, now once again it provided the vehicle which allowed Mayorgate to interview French citizens after the Charlie Hebdo terror attack. Though this is not the first time Mayorgate was able to connect directly with people at the center of a story. Previously Mayorgate spoke with Chris Palmer, an Aussie who is on the ground in Africa fighting poachers to protect our incredible and beautiful beasts. Palmer's personal comments and photos opened a different aspect to the horror of this slaughter and a war we appear to be losing. This time comments from French residents who lived through such a tumultuous period in Paris brought a different perspective to news headlines.

Mayorgate will continue to provide articles that spawn thought and discussion. No legal threat with SLAPP suits will succeed to silence the freedom of speech, even though the cheeky monkeys of Mayorgate had to draw out the riot shields for protection. 

No comments:

Post a Comment