Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
But Parks and Rec director's personal lawsuit can proceed Town can't sue citizen for defamation-- judge
Publication:
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 19 Apr 2006, p. 8


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Citizens are free to criticize governments without fear of being sued for defamation, a judge has ruled in dismissing an action by the Town of Halton Hills against a resident for comments made on his website. Justice David Corbett of the Superior Court of Justice ruled that the freedom of expression guarantee in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms prevents governments from pursuing such actions. It is the second time this year an Ontario judge has dismissed a defamation suit brought by a municipality against a citizen for the same reason. The previous case involved the Township of Montague suing a resident for $50,000. Comment about public affairs and government lies at the core of freedom of expression, and any legal restriction would have a chilling effect, Corbett wrote in his 25-page judgment. "Governments have other, better ways to protect their reputations," he wrote, ordering the town to pay $5,000 in costs to defendant Al Kirouac who runs an Acton-based website. The town, along with parks and recreation director Terry Alyman, jointly sued Kirouac for $120,000, alleging he wrote derogatory comments about Alyman in connection with his work for the town. Corbett's ruling did not affect Alyman's portion of the lawsuit, which is still before the courts. Public officials have the right to sue for defamation, but governments do not have private reputations to protect, Corbett wrote. "Litigation is a form of force and the government must not silence its critics by force," he added. Kirouac said in a recent interview that his lawyer, Ryder Gilliland, offered to settle with the town without costs three weeks ago but was refused. Now the town is on the hook for $5,000. Gilliland also successfully defended Donald Page in the Township of Montague case. He termed both decisions "an important victory for free speech ... and democratic principles." Lawyer John Schaljo, who represents both plaintiffs, said Alyman will proceed with his case. The town must decide if it wants to appeal Corbett's decision. Schaljo called Corbett's ruling disappointing, but "I can't say it was unexpected."


Media Type:
Newspaper
Item Types:
Articles
Clippings
Date of Publication:
19 Apr 2006
Subject(s):
Personal Name(s):
Alyman, Terry ; Kirouac, Al ; Page, Donald ; Corbett, David ; Gilliland, Ryder ; Schaljo, John
Corporate Name(s):
Superior Court of Justice
Local identifier:
Halton.News.204789
Language of Item:
English
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Halton Hills Public Library
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But Parks and Rec director's personal lawsuit can proceed Town can't sue citizen for defamation-- judge