While I am not an anarchist, I do find that listening to their points of view is, at times, thought-provoking.
While I am not an anarchist, I do find that listening to their points of view is, at times, thought-provoking.
Disclosure: It may be important to note my past experience with PSAC, that very powerful and ruthless public sector union, of which Dr. Baglow testified he had been the Executive Vice President of.
When, decades ago, I was a wee little teenager, shortly after we came to Canada, my mom got a job where she was forced to become a member of PSAC. Back then, there was a lot of tension created by this most militant union. Once, just before a strike, my mom naively said she opposed the strike – within earshot of a union thug. We started getting phone calls at all times of day and night. My mom got threats that were not even thinly veiled. Once, a caller told her where I went to school, the times I walk there and back and the exact route I walk…
My mother was so frightened that she took a leave of absence until after the strike….and this event had, for ever, opened my eyes to the way labour unions in Canada function and ‘get things done’.
Thursday, day 4 of the trial, started with a bit of excitement.
Being a ‘morning person’ (that is, I hardly ever go to sleep until after I’ve said ‘hello’ to the morning), I find it difficult to actually be places at an uncivilized hour, like, say, 9:30 am. So, I missed the original action, but it had caused such a buzz and so much comment, I was soon filled-in on the situation. Like I reported earlier, witnesses were not allowed to hear each other’s testimony, nor was anyone allowed to tell them about it. Thus, as I left the court yesterday, Dr. Baglow was pacing expectantly outside of the courtroom, not being allowed to know what Mr. Bow’s testimony and cross examination brought out.
While surfing the net in the evening, Dr. Baglow accidentally encountered a blog which reported on day 3 in court – and thus Mr. Bow’s testimony!!!
How very, very unfortunate that out of the hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of blogs in the blogosphere, Dr. Baglow accidentally landed on the one and only blog in the world where the forbidden information was published…
Of course, being a moral and upright ex-union boss, as soon as he realized what he was reading, Dr. Baglow logged off right away.
There were only 2 observers in the courtroom who were blogging about the case, and I didn’t write up day 3 until yesterday, so we can narrow down pretty easily which was the blog in question. However, the court clerk and stenographer did not know that and the court clerk was sending daggers out of her eyes in my direction all morning.
I think the court clerk must have a very difficult and frustrating job. While I have never heard any of the other court clerks in the cases I have observed so far complain about their job, this one was more articulate. She kept explaining to anyone within earshot just how much more difficult they were making her job. And everything in the courtroom seemed designed to annoy her – from the way the chairs were arranged to the fact that some people left the courtroom through the left side of the door instead of using the right side only. Poor woman – so much responsibility and so many unnecessary obstacles were being hurled into her path.
And now this!
“Now I have to worry about being on some BLOG!!!’ she lamented at one point, as she shot me a particularly venomous look.
It must be a difficult job, indeed!
But, back to the substance of the trial. I am not quoting directly, but rather expressing my imperfect understanding of the testimony and cross examination. Timelines may be jumbled and at some points, I may put specific bits of testimony and cross examination together, to maintain the narrative.
As I came in, the blogger Jay Currie was under discussion. (Note – the linkie is to his new blog, which I quite like. The discussion here is about his old blog, which Dr. Baglow says was quite good, but I myself hardly ever went there as I simply did not like the format and feel of it.)
Jay Currie’s old blog was a bit of a cross-roads where a lot of unlike-minded people went to for ‘verbal fencing’ – not because they actually expected to convince anyone of the rightness of their point, but simply to bicker. Personally, I detest bickering, so I hardly ever went there and never took part in the pointless bickering. This was not the case for Dr. Dawg (Dr. Baglow’s online persona), nor for Peter O’Donnel, the other persona of Roger Smith.
At some point in time, Dr. Dawg had a private email conversation with Jay Currie, which he had subsequently learned was shared with Mark Fournier’s lawyer, Barbara Kulaszka. Dr. Baglow was deeply hurt and very disappointed by this breech of trust and invasion of privacy. Poor Dr.Baglow…
It is my guess that the emails referred to here were the ones which definitely established the identity of Ms. Mew as a handle of Dr. Baglow. Dr. Baglow insisted that everyone knew he was Ms. Mew as the nickname was an obvious play on ‘Dr. Dawg’. However, I suspect ‘everyone knew’ would not be a good enough identification for the courts….and nor would using Ms. Mew’s IP address, as numerous courts have ruled that an IP address cannot be used to identify a person.
Anyhow, at this particular time, Dr. Baglow testified, the online sparring in the comments between himself and Jay Currie had gone on for quite some time. Dr. Baglow was upset to find out that the offensive materials (those 7 little words, and, in my never-humble-opinion, had the article used been ‘a’ instead of ‘the’, we could not be here, in court – so, listen to all us Grammar-nazis out there, it may help you avoid a lawsuit!) would not be taken down and he was very, very hurt and angry.
The discussion now moved to something that had been written, but I could not see as the exhibits are not available to the spectators, but it was understood by the Fourniers as a threat to use the courts to bankrupt them – and thus was said to have demonstrated malice on the part of Dr. Baglow. If I am not mistaken, it was something like that when this was all done, he, Dr. Baglow, would get Roger Smith’s harpsichord and play it in Mark and Connie’s house, which he will have won in the lawsuit. Or something like that. The Fourniers and Roger Smith took this to be a threat of lawfare – where the process is as much of a punishment as any potential outcome (and something which spreads ‘libel chill’ throughout the blogosphere) but Dr. Baglow testified that this was just a bit of ‘bravado’ and ‘nothing to pay serious attention to’.
As a matter of fact, there were quite a lot of instances where Dr. Baglow was ‘displaying bravado’ or just writing words in frustration at having such an injustice committed against his person, and any words uttered in such a state of mind, no matter how derogatory or sexually degrading (those would be the ones directed at Connie Fournier, the lone female participant in this farce of a trial – and the one for whom Dr. Dawg’s vilest of insults were reserved), were not any evidence of malice or bad will, but just a symptom of frustration. Had the Fourniers been good little unwashed plebs, and done everything the intellectual Dr. Baglow demanded, they would not have brought such malicious invective on themselves!!! At times, I think Dr. Baglow felt quite hurt that the Fourniers, Connie in particular, had forced him to use such uncivilized language…
Please note, I am paraphrasing and getting the ‘gist’ of the testimony as I understood it, not quoting Dr. Baglow directly….and I am using the word ‘malicious’ in the colloquial, not the legal sense of the word as I have no legal training. And I am applying the word ‘malicious’ t the words used, not to D. Baglow. Just thought I ought to clarify that here, so nobody would be misled.
Aside: the kind of language that Dr. Baglow used was truly, truly ‘past colourful’. For example, he called a male blogger (not involved in this lawsuit) a ‘flaming …..’ where ‘…..’ is a word for female genitalia. Now, I don’t care how punny anyone thinks this may or may not be, but, using bits of female anatomy as an insult to hurl at another man: if THAT is not anti-woman hate-speech, I don’t know what is!!!
Dr. Baglow testified most vehemently that he does not approve of, indulge in or permit (on his blog) ‘Hate Speech’ of any kind. Whenever someone used the phrase ‘right to freedom of speech’, he made sure to insert the word ‘alleged’ before the word ‘right’ – with great emphasis.
His lawyer, Mr. Burnet, kept ‘fumbling’ the documents and getting the exhibits ‘mixed up’. And, at times, he kept ramming the left arm of his glasses into his left ear…. How exciting to witness such skillful courtroom theater!!!!
Another ‘current’ through this testimony was about likening Connie Fournier to Nazis. Perhaps not in name, but in imagery.
Dr. Baglow testified that he did not say Ms. Fournier was a Nazi, nor does he think that she is. But there were so many statements brought up during the testimony and the cross examination where Dr. Baglow used Nazi imagery that his professions seemed weak at best.
Then there was some testimony I could not follow, but it sounded as if Dr. Baglow were defending himself from accusations of having written that Judge Annis (the one that ruled that the ‘disputed words’ were not capable of being defamatory) – among other judges – was ‘in the pocket of the conservatives’… Please, do take care that I am stating, flat out, that I did not understand heads or tails of this bit of testimony – just that this is what it sounded like was happening. Mr. Baglow, while admitting to writing the words, denied most vehemently that this was their implication.
Then Dr. Baglow referred to 2 different studies – again, I had no reference, this was all in the documents I had no access to – that ‘proved’ one or another of his statements/positions. But, the judge stared at Dr. Baglow and verbally spanked him by pointing out that she read those two things and they were nothing like ‘scholarly studies’ but just the ravings of some inconsequential journalists. (Again, I am conveying my impressions of what happened, not the actual words uttered.)
Mr. Burnet asked Dr. Baglow if it is true that he wrote about a judge that he is guilty of statutory rape for having had sex with his baby sitter. Now, again, I did not have the documents in front of me, so my understanding is highly imperfect and I would love to be corrected, so that the record will be accurate. But, it seems that event though the babysitter was over the age of 16 (not statutory rape), the judge – as an employer of the baby sitter – was ‘an authority figure’ which Dr. Dawg thinks ‘bumps up’ the statutory rape thingy to 18, not 16. And, Dr. Baglow would appear to have been highly critical of this and he appears to have blogged his criticism. But, writing that ‘a man in position of authority’ was having sex with someone under the age of 18, as he asserted the judge had indeed done, this apparently did not imply, in any way, shape or form, that he was accusing that judge of statutory rape. And while I can respect his opinion and his original blogging thereof, I must admit I was disappointed in how he tried to walk this bit back…
The post by Dr. Dawg called ‘Off with his head’ – and referring to Prime Minister Harper – was also brought up, both during the testimony and the subsequent cross examination. While Dr. Baglow insisted this reference was satire, the fact that there actually was a real-life plot to behead our Prime Minister makes this assertion sound hollow, at best…rather, it would seem to (in my never-humble-opinion) a very thinly veiled sympathy and/or support for militant Islamist terrorists. OK, it was never openly stated in the testimony, but, it hung in the air like a miasma which all parties present pretend is not really there…silent, but palpable!!!
Then the issue of Fern Hill came up….
….I just realized I’m at over 2k words and we have not yet hit lunch!!!
Let me break here and start part 2 from the ‘Fern Hill’ bit.
NOTICE: this post discusses and assesses the testimony given by Mr. Bows, so, if any reader who is banned by the court from reading about Mr. Bow’s testimony until his own is finished comes across this post, they ought to leave this page right away in order not to breach the court’s order.
Day 3, Wednesday, was the ‘broken-up day’: Madam justice had a previous commitment for a 3 hour meeting smack dab in the middle of the day. So, the court was scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30, then a bit of a break, then again from 1:30 to 5:00. And, as I had commitments of my own which I had been neglecting due to the trial, I took the morning to try and get caught up on some of them. So, I missed the morning hour…
I was there for 1:30, ready to go! But, the most exciting thing to happen was that the bailiff announced that the courtroom clock had finally been fixed!!! It now actually displays the correct time….
After a bit of waiting, we learned that Madam justice had finished her meeting, but needed a bite to eat, so the court would not reconvene until 2 pm. Oh well…
At 2 pm, on the dot, the court reconvened. And, I had another little surprise: Dr. Baglow was not on the stand!
Could he have finished his testimony and been cross examined by 4 people in the span of the morning hour? Not quite…
Because the trial had originally been scheduled for 3 days only, that is how long Mr. Bow had planned to be away. In order to accommodate him, all the participants agreed to permit Dr. Baglow’s testimony to be interrupted in order to let Mr. Bow testify and be cross examined first.
Mr. James Edward Bow chose to swear on the Bible, then settled in to the witness box. In his dark grey suit, white shirt, striped tie, with understated wire-rim glasses complementing his dark hair and eyes, he looked handsome and dapper.
Aside: while talking about what people were wearing…Connie wore a fuchsia cardigan that was almost identical in colour to my own top, but mine was short sleeve, so all awkwardness was avoided! Sorry – humorous interlude over!
Mr. Bow testified that he lived in Kitchener, Ontario and worked as a freelance writer with a web designed business on the side. While he never had any formal training in web designed, he had worked for a number of tech companies in the 90′s and received a lot of on the job training. In 2005, when his daughter was born, he became a stay-at-home dad while doing the writing and web stuff on the side from home. As a stay-at-home mom who also blogs, I can relate!
When Mr. Bow testified that he had received his degree in Environmentalism, I began to seriously doubt Dr. Baglow’s sanity: is he really bringing a capital ‘E’ Environmentalist to try to support the veracity of a contentious claim? Really?!?!?
I had to work hard to suppress a bout of giggles: like ANYONE on EARTH would ever again believe a word that comes out of the mouth of an ‘E’nvironmentlist!!!
Disclosure – my background is physics, field of data acquisition and analysis…and I specialized in helping scientists/technologists avoid ‘conformational bias’…so, I find the modern ‘E’nvironmentalists particularly, well, how can I put this without being defamatory…’not up to snuff’ scientifically and having a very, very deep, perhaps un-bridgeable, credibility deficit.
In my never humble opinion, Mr. Bow’s testimony bore out the expectations one would have of an ‘E’nvironmentalist: lots of claims of technical expertise followed by ‘D’uh, I don’t know how to do that…’
To his credit, Mr. Bow tried very hard to support his friend, Dr. Baglow, but to anyone with an iota if IT knowledge, he simply did not come across as credible – to my never-humble-thinking.
He blamed Dr. Baglow for not updating the comments before they attempted to migrate them to the new platform (without explaining why they could not have simply gone through the steps of updating step by step by step…), completely forgetting that if they had both migrated the site to the new spot (for the hosting of which Mr. Bow got paid by Dr. Baglow) AND left the old site up, instead of shutting it down, the defendants in this case would not have been deprived of access to information essential to their defense. No amount of difficulties with migrating the comments over would have caused this damage had they not actively shut the old site down…
In another bit of testimony, Mr. Bow testified that it was Dr. Baglow’s decision to stop trying to recover the ‘lost’ comments, or he would have continued to look for ways of migrating them over. In my never-humble-opinion, this was Mr. Bow covering his rear end, making sure his incompetence did not get perceived as malice and shifting all responsibility for the ‘lost’ comments squarely onto Dr. Baglow.
At this point, my other-world duties pulled me out of the courtroom: I may have put off fixing my own broken (front) tooth till next week in order to attend the trial, but, I could not put such limitations on ‘my little one’ (OK, he’s taller than I am, but he will ALWAYS be ‘my little one’!!!) and I had to leave the courtroom in order to take HIM to the dentist…
When I left the courtroom in a rush, I found Dr. Baglow pacing nervously in front of the courtroom: by the judge’s order (and as per ‘normal’ practice, he was excluded from the courtroom while other witnesses for his side’ were ‘on the stand’). As we had exchanged pleasantries in the past few days, and as he had always been very civil towards me, I greeted him and had a little (though very hurried – I had stayed in the courtroom well into my time-margin).
During this exchange, he pointed out to me that I had indeed misunderstood the timing when he had joined the NDP. I had reported on this in Day 2: having heard that he had torn up his NDP membership card during Buffalo Bob’s reign, and the accusations that Bob Rae’s political opponents were motivated by anti-Semitism (since Mr. Rae’s wife is Jewish), I wanted to head off any potential smear campaign against Mr. Baglow due to the confluence of this. Yes, I pointed this out in my reporting – but, with sincere and honest statement of fact that I do NOT believe Dr. Baglow to be an anti-Semite – specifically to ward off any potential smear campaign.
Which is why I was very happy that Dr.Bglow corrected my error: he had actually joined the NDP because he had been inspired by Bob Rae’s electoral victory! And, as I understood (and reported), it was Mr. Rae’s subsequent policies that got him so disgusted, he ‘tore up his membership card’.
He accepted my assurance that my calling attention to this was an effort to ‘nip in the bud’ any smears – and appreciated it. I in turn, appreciated being corrected, because I would much rather be corrected in the short run and carry accurate information than be left in error!!!
I promised to correct in in the original post (I put the edit at the top, so anyone reading it will have the correction before getting to the erroneous bit, without hiding I had made an error), and I also promised to describe our conversation on ‘day 3′ to explain how the correction came about.
That was it for me for ‘day 3′ – days 4 and 5 are coming up as soon as I can type them up!
As always: if I have made any errors, if you can correct/add to this commentary, please do so and I’ll be glad to edit this post in order to add your comment!!!
All the caveats from part 1 (more or less forming most of part 1) apply. Please read them….DLDR: borrowed clunky tech and limited internet time, cannot highlight (thus link etc.) – will update once my computer is fixed. Also, these are all jut my highly imperfect personal observations and opinions and ought not be treated as anything more than that.
An account of Day 1 can be found at The FreedomSite Blog.
I have been struggling with how to write up this part, because things got quite sensational at some points and I am quite terrified that if I repeat what I believe to have heard in court, I will open myself up to being sued because as I understand the current state of Canada defamation laws, truth is not a defense there, either, as a person is presumed to be guilty and malicious and if the words are ‘spoken maliciously’ then their truthfulness is irrelevant.
In my online persona, I have chosen to emulate Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates and THE proverbial nag: I am good at nagging, so I thought I’d go with it. But, as Xanthippa, I try my best to channel Xanthippe with all her vitriol and sharp tongue – that’s part of the fun of creating an online persona: it is not you you, but that persona you, so you can say what the you you might, but in a different way, more in line with the persona you are attempting to channel. (Remember, if it were not for anonymous speech, the Federalist Papers could never have been published and the USA would still be a Crown possession.)
Something that Xanthippa says with the persona-appropriate vitriol which defines her and signifies no more than a reflection of her nature could, quite easily, be misinterpreted as ‘malicious’ when all I am doing is role-playing…presenting my opinion, but with a satirical twist. And satire does not come across too easily in the courtroom!
Aside: there will be more personas I am developing in a different, non-written online project, but more about that later. (But, if anyone has an old but nice wig they’d be willing to donate to that effort, I would be eternally grateful.)
Back to the trial: first on the order were some legal tidying-up thingies and once these were out of the way, Madam Justice Polowin esplained that she is a bit of a luddite and barely knows how to use email…and has never ever read a blog. A ‘clean slate’ she called herself. I am not convinced this is the best background for this case, as it may get very technical, but (and I am jumping ahead in time somewhat) she took copious notes of everything and whenever she needed to understand a point, she not only asked for a clarification, she actually repeated her understanding of the point and asked for confirmation that it is accurate. That, in my never-humble-opinion, is a good thing.
Another point of interest was that motion was introduced that any potential witnesses are to be excluded from the courtroom until after their testimony and cross examination, so as not to be influenced by what they hear and see before they testify. All parties agreed and a nice-dressed gentleman (Mr. Bow, Dr. Baglow’s IT guy) got up and left the courtroom.
Now the opening statements.
Mr. Burnet, Dr. Baglow’s lawyer, went first. He seems like a competent lawyer and he assumed that reasonable, avuncular style that must be effective because it is affected by so many lawyers (good and bad). Personally, I find that particular form of arguing patronizing and irritating at best because the Aspie in me considers it to be a form of manipulation. And we, Aspies, are very allergic to being manipulated: we see such manipulation as using a subtle form of shaming in order to disguise the lack of convincing evidence. This opinion of mine was only strengthened by Mr. Burnet’s nervous habit of scratching the inside of his left ear with the arm of his glasses.
But, that is my perception of his mannerisms and not a reflection on Mr. Burnet’s case because a lot of lawyers affect that style – and a lot of lawyers will try to act as if they have a weak case in order for their opponents to underestimate it and not prepare adequately. And I am sufficiently poor judge of human body language that I would never venture to guess if he was really nervous or pretending to be nervous as part of his courtroom strategy.
If I understood Mr. Burnet’s opening statement accurately, it boils down to a few major points (and I am paraphrasing, at times quite heavily, as my notes are incomplete and I cannot but channel Xanthippe – so, any vitriol you detect below is ‘satire’ and, at times, dark sarcasm, and not malice whatsoever in any way, shape or form):
Aside: up to this point, Mr. Burnet had very considerately explained all the technical terms and jargon patiently answered the many detailed questions the judge had asked. He kind of got into the habit of talking for a bit, then looking up and asking if any explanations were needed. So far, so good. Now, Mr. Burnet delved into how Mr. Smith and his client had gotten into a heated debate about Mr. Baglow’s glaringly hypocritical position* on the re-patriation of Omar Kadr…and he looked up to the judge and asked if she had heard of Omar Khadr. Madam Justice Polowin smiled amusedly and said that even though she may be a luddite, she does read the papers…
It is not exhaustive nor, obviously, word for word, but I hope this captures the spirit of the opening statement by the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Next up was Barbara Kulaszka, the lawyer representing Mark Fournier.
Honest declaration of bias: I have met Ms. Kulaszka and observed her in the courtroom. In person, I think she is brilliant and very, very nice. I have read some of her writings and been deeply impressed by them – insightful, well researched, documented, eloquently phrased and any other praise you wish to heap upon her head. I have, however, been less impressed by her past verbal performance in the courtrooms: that Barbara Kulaszka, however, did not show up today!
I saw passion and fire – and it was excellent! Not just in her opening statement (sorry, jumping ahead again), but she was up on her feet, objecting, arguing passionately and eloquently. In other words, I liked what I saw!
I may not have captured everything, but here are some of the highlights of her opening statement (again, as with the rest of all my writing, paraphrasing, satire, sarcasm, hyperbole and all that, are in play)
There may have been more, but this is what I ‘caught’.
Next came Connie Fournier’s opening statement.
I will not report on what it contained because I am not as brave as Connie and I am afraid that if I told the truth of what was said in public court, I would get sued and loose the family home and my ability to provide a home for my children. Let it suffice to say it included allegations of statements made by Dr. Baglow regarding justice Annis as well as several other, un-named judges which made the judge’s jaw to, quite literally, drop.
Next came Roger Smith’s opening statement.
He was extremely eloquent and, in my never-humble-opinion, totally brilliant.
First, he explained that while his legal name is Roger Smith, his birth name is Roger O’Donnell and he is widely known under that identity in professional circles, specifically in the weather forecasting circles and in Ireland.
Next he explained (to a ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’ head-nodding of the judge) that by defining his client as ‘proudly left wing’ and the Free Dominion forum as ‘extremist right wing’, the plaintiff (through his judge) had made this a case that is NOT about defamation, but about one’s position on the political spectrum…and, in his opinion, the court of law is NOT the appropriate place to rule on which political opinions are permissible and which ones are not.
By the plaintiff’s lawyer’s opening statement alone, this case is not about defamation of an individual but about which political opinions are legally permissible and which political opinions are against the law…
He was, by far, the most eloquent of the bunch - so much so that I stopped taking notes and listened to him (regardless of the judge’s annoying interruptions) with ever growing respect and admiration (and I do NOT say this lightly!!!).
Next, the judge asked the CCLA lawyer, who did not have the ‘right’ to make an opening statement, to briefly sketch what the CCLA position is, which is what he did, in 5 points: all of which boiled down to ‘we want the law to evolve with freedom of speech in mind and something as ludicrous as this case ought to be tossed out of court…
Actually, it was quite brilliant: the young man (oh, I feel so old) argued their position logically and eloquently and really, really well, bringing in some of the phrases Dr. Baglow’s lawyer used and demonstrating just how ridiculous and absurd those arguments were, without needing to resort to any manipulative means or methods.
I think I love the CCLA!
OK – this is MY highly personal and admittedly prejudiced perception of what went on in court – please, do not treat is as anything more than my highly imperfect and admittedly ignorant opinion of the proceedings.
* * *
* I consider this position to be highly hypocritical because I cannot believe that an intelligent man, with a doctorate to boot, could possibly honestly think that using a colloquial definition of some words which are identical to a ‘legal jargon’ label with a very, very narrow and specific legal meaning, applying them in the colloquial sense to a person who glaringly does not qualify for the legal definition of that term, and then, wrapping himself in the tattered cloak of self righteousness, demanding the legal protections for that person for which he would only qualify had he satisfied the ‘legal definition’…and branding anyone who fails to buy in to his glaringly flawed argument as evil and unfeeling and somehow less than human. Sorry, the man I see in front of me seems much too intelligent not to grasp exactly what the difference between the colloquial and legal definition is, and how Omar Khadr does not qualify for the UN legal definition of ‘child soldier’. Sure, some of the ‘unwashed & uneducted masses’ could have fallen prey to such glaringly obvious propaganda, but not an intellectual with a doctorate!!! In the absence of stupidity/ignorance, the only other possible explanation, in my never-humble-opinion, is hypocrisy…for partisan political ends.
Today, Monday, March 24th, 2014, was the first day in the ‘FULL TRIAL’.
First, a few caveats:
* My computer has died and I am sending it in for service: this means I have borrowed equipment (my long suffering hubby’s tablet) and this is NOT the ‘ideal’ blogging medium under any plausible definition… so, instead of highlighting or bolding, I will have to capitalize for emphasis. I am not shouting, just emphasizing - my apologies.
* Due to this really, really slow machine with none of ‘my stuff’ on it (and my limited access to it, as I get to ‘share’), I don’t have the quotes/links to previous/cited cases and so on. I could get them, if I had the time online, but, currently, I do not. I may – time and technology permitting – re-visit this post and insert quotes and/or links at a later date when time and internet access are more under my control.
* Due to me being me – and a certified Aspie to boot – my observations are very, very limited. They are limited both by my lack of legal training (my area of education is Physics, not Law) and my linguistics (while I may have beecome fluent in 5 languages by the age of 13, I have never mastered ‘legaleese’). I cannot highlight it this mchine, so I cannot link: please check out ‘Asperger’s on Wikipedia to understand my limitations in abilities to ‘get’ some of the nuances of what went on: however, if you are ble to correct me or explain any of my observations more accurately than I, please, I TRULY BEG YOU: COMMENT!!! Help others get a better, more accurate picture of what is going on, I would much rather be corrected than go on in ignorance at any time, on any topic, so, please help me and anyone else reading this get a more insightful picture of the situation, if you possibly can.
TLDR: this will be a condensed, highly personal and highly imperfect account of my admittedly falliable observaions of this first day of the FULL TRIAL of this particular defamation case. If you can correct me and/or are willing to add to it, please, do! As I have borrowed and klunky tech, I cannot highlight or link or spellcheck – sorry…
Connie and Mark Fournier are the operators of Free Dominion, oldest and longest running political forum in Canada until it was sued into silence by Richard Warman.
Roger Smith, aka Peter O’Donnel (and not just online), is a member and frequent content supplier on Free Dominion and elsewhere on the blogosphere.
John Baglow, aka ‘Dr. Dawg’, aka ‘Ms. Mew’, is a guy who is a retired civil servant and unionist, a self-proclaimed leftist activist, an avid blogger, a Richard Warman groupie (imnho), and a guy with a pechant for black riding boots with the most adorable little silver trimmings.
Please note: all my own dealings with either John Baglow or ‘Dr. Dawg’ have been very amicable and positive. I have, in the past, asked him to get me in touch with another progressive blogger I have crossed swords with amicably in the past (I may hold many of the so called ‘progressive views’, but disagree with most of the so called ‘progressive metods’ of achieving them) and he had done so very quickly and courteously. I was seeking some help/publicity for some Tibetan refugees to Canada and Mr. Baglow has provided it and been very nice to me throughout – and, by extension, to them.
I have found him to be pleasant and charming when ever I have interacted with him. In fact, I find him quite charismatic.
And, I find it admirble that he has brought a young man I presume to be his step-son to the courthouse to observe civic cases: it is imperative that we get the next genetration interested in our civics, and I give praise to all who do. Kudos to him for that!!!
Yes, I bash when bashing is due, but I also give credit when that is due, too…so, please, don’t sue me!!!
This particuar ‘flame war’ started on the blog of Jay Curry and bled over to a number of online spots, including Free Dominion, where the 7-word phrase this courtcase is about was posted by Roger Smith. I am afraid to report what those 7 offending words were, because from the Richard Warman legal precedent, if I, as a private person, publish the ‘public’ documents of what had been filed at court, I, too, might become liable for ‘re-publishing’ those ‘defamatory’ words.
Yes, it is a matter of ‘public record’.
And, yes, it is ‘factual reporting’ of a ‘public document’….or what was said on public record in a court of law and thus apart of ‘public record’…
Afte the latest Warman vs. Free Dominion and John does decision, that is no defense: if the factual record is, at some later point in time, found to be defamatory, the factually reporting on it on the internet is considered to be ‘re-publishing the defmatory statements’ and it would open me to liability. So, my reporting of tody’s events will necessarily be highly constrained.
The subject of the ‘flame war’ was Omar Khadr, his inaccurate (as per UN’s definition) characterization by ‘Dr. Dawg’ as a ‘child soldier’ and the implications of willfully promulgating this demonstrably inaccurate legal description. Peter O’Donnel’s opinions complied with the UN’s legal definition (thus leaving Omar Khadr outside of the protections UN grants to ‘child soldiers’) while Dr. Dawg attempted to draw the moral high ground by inaccurately describing the Taliban terorist as a ‘child soldier (in the legal, not colloquial, definition) and then demanded the legal protections for Omar Khadr that are only available to UN-defined ‘child soldiers’….a demostrable and rather glaring hypocrisy which ‘Peter O’Donnel’ pounced and opined upon.
In many online spots.
On Free dominion, he opined so in 7 words which I dare not repeat.
These 7 words that ‘Peter O’Donnel’ posted – and which, he asserts, are his honestly held opinon, shared by some 8 million Canadians (according to his opening statement), are the ‘basis’ of this lawsuit.
It was originally dismissed as a frivolous and a vexatious lawsuit. (And, I reported on it – oh, how I wish I could link!!! The more I use it, the more I loathe this borrowe tech!!!)
Then, it was appealed – and several judges agreed that internet ‘flame wars’ were ‘legally uncharterred terrtory’ and that some ‘precednt-setting rulings’ need to be made here. Just so us iternet folks would know where the actual boundaries lie…you know, so we could stay within the lines, the lines are your friends…..(OK, old commercial – but applicable!)
Thus, we have a ‘FULL TRIAL’
TLDR: trial, ruling against Baglow (frivolous), but no legal rules for ‘internet flam war’ so FULL TRIAL to set ‘legal precedent’. Baglow: cute guy, charismatic and nice, wrong side of argument here.
OH, MY – OVER A K OF WORDS AND I HAVE NOT STARTED ON TODAY’S EVENTS YET…..deepest apologies, just trying to get the parameters in before I start today’s observations, as I honestly cannot afford to get sued…
These are the facts as posted outside the courtroom #24 at the Elgin St. Courthouse on the 24th of March, 2014:
Justice: Polowin, J.
Plaintiff: Baglow, John
Lawyer: Burnet, Peter Francis
Defendant: Smith, Roger
Lawyer: Kulaszka, Barbara
Lawyer: Kulaszka, Barbara
Mr. John Baglow turned up as well groomed as ever: a dark suit, a blue-collar shirt and them cute riding boots with the adorable silver trimmings he has become so well known for. He knows what he looks good in and uses it well!
Connie Fournier wore a classy, slim-line dark skirt with a gray pattern, a pretty blouse with a multi-red abstract pattern and a red blazer that accented the blouse perfectly – with an understated, classy gold/gold-tone diamond/rhinestone necklace (sorry – I am not knowledge-able enough to tell the two apart…it was ‘understated’ and ‘classy’ at the same time and I wish I could pull a similar look off….Connie looked smart and classy and – well, we have words for women like that!!!).
Roger Smith wore a blue blazer and khakis – understated, yet elegant. With his silver-kissed hair, he was easily the most attractive person in the courtroom.
The charismatic Mark Fournier wore a tweed jacket and slacks and, despite his bigger-than-life persona, tried his best to stay in the background.
In addition to the people listed above, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association were interveners in this case – as friends of the court – on the side of the defendants. The lawyer sent to represent them was a young man named Steven Frankel – and while he had a wedding ring on the ring finger of his left hand, he looked younger than either of my sons. OK – I officially feel old now….but, when he spoke, he sounded really, really smart!
And, of course, the judge…
Madam Justice Polowin, J., presided over the case.
She looked sharp, with her pale hair cut short-ish, slicked back at the temples and wonderfully fluffy on top, she wore understated light stud earrings (pearls?) and her judge’s robes flowed playfully about her slight frame. She self-admitted to being a luddite (knowing how to send and receive emails – but nothing else on the internet) and asked for every bit to be explained, internet technology and jargon and culture included.
I see now that it is way late, and I plan to be back in court to observe tomorrow – so I must suspend my narrative here. Let me just state that, at the end of the day, Madam Justice Polowin stated (at the end of the day) that even though the trial had been scheduled for Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, she sees no way they’ll get through it all (while doing a proper and thorough job of examining the underlying issues, as the appellate court had directed) by the end of this week and so participants ought to alter their travel plans accordingly…
As Ezra Levant reminds us, freedom of speech is under fire all over the world. He recently raised the case in Spain, where an ex-Muslim is being threatened with deportation to Pakistan, where he will most certainly face death for blasphemy.
But, it is not only something that happens in the illiberal European Union: freedom of speech is under fire, right here, in Canada’s capital:
Next week, the 24th, 25th and 26th of March, 2014, Mark and Connie Fournier of the formerly ‘Free Dominion’ (currently ‘Censored-Out-Of-Existence Dominion’), will be back in court, fighting to protect our freedom of speech on the internet.
It is, indeed, the continuation of the ‘Dr. Dawg case’ which had been summarily dismissed in a ruling where the judge was incredulous that Dr. Dawg was willing to admit – in court – to having conducted himself as foolishly as he had. At least, that is my highly imperfect understanding of that ruling.
While I have observed the various legal opponents of the Fourniers’ in court, and have found many of them to lack charisma, I cannot say this of Dr. Dawg. He may be dead wrong on this issue (in my never-humble-opinion), but, he is a charming guy with a disarming smile. And, he is always meticulously turned out: not stuffy, but striking and he takes great pride in his always polished and tidy riding boots. (The ones with the adorable silver trimmings – I’ll be sure to let you know if he wears them in court next week….and they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’, as I have erroneously reported in the past. I know, because Dr. Dawg was kind enough to send me the link to them, so that I would make the necessary correction – which, of course, I am more than happy to make. So, to be sure – they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’ – and they always look polished and well groomed!)
And, sometimes, Dr. Dawg wears hats – I am very partial to hats! Did I mention the most awesome steampunk hat my son got over the March break? Hats get the thumbs-up from me!
Plus, Dr. Dawg had brought a young man (whom I presume to be his step-son) to court to observe some of the non-Dr. Dawg related cases: this, I truly respect because as a parent myself, I really appreciate the importance of teaching civics lessons to our young people. So, kudos to him for that – even if I disagree with this particular case of his or his politics in general. After all, it is our duty to teach our young ones to respect the process – and think for themselves: the rest is up to them!
But, enough of my ranting…refocusing:
Even though the ruling was for the Fourniers and Peter O’Donnel, a frequent poster at Free Dominion, the court of appeals overturned the summary dismissal. I am sure there were very sound legal reasons for this, but, to my untrained mind and ‘farmer’s wisdom’ (the best, yet clumsy, translation of my dad’s favourite expression – implying ‘layman’s comprehension’ as my father was not a farmer and not even a gardener (this early pioneer in AI’s outdoor activities during my formative years being exclusively limited to tennis and windsurfing), and thus his comprehension of the ways of farmers and acquisition of any actual ‘farmer’s wisdom’ was quite literally non-existent – I’ve never even seen him mow a lawn…not even once!), it sounded like a bunch of hypothetical judges thought: “Wow, one of them new-fangled ‘internet cases’ – here’s our one and perhaps only chance to make a ruling that will go into the textbooks – so, let’s prolong it as long as possible, because, after all, we are getting paid to do this: the poor schmucks in front of us have to pick up the bill!”
OK, perhaps I am overly cynical, but that is what it sounds like to me and my legally untrained mind…
But, regardless of the reasons, the Fourniers will be in an Ottawa court room (Elgin St. Court house, for those wishing to pop by and support either side, or just curious about the ways of our justice system) and, health permitting, I will be there to report on it, to the best of my highly limited abilities!
P.S. Omar Khadr is not, according to the United Nations own definition, a ‘Child Soldier’ - and anyone who claims otherwise is a snotling fondler and a silly-bunny to boot!!!
Here is the email:
In Ezra’s own words:
And in his own words from an email his supporters receive:
Dear [name redacted],
After two delays, my week-long free speech trial finally starts tomorrow in Toronto. You were kind enough to contribute to my legal defence fund. Thanks to you, I feel like I’m well equipped with an excellent lawyer. I appreciate that.
You may remember that the person suing me is Khurrum Awan. He’s the former youth leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, the same guy who went after Mark Steyn at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. In fact, he’s suing me for my critical comments about him at Steyn’s trial.
So this is the next battle in that same war.
The trial is expected to go till Friday. If you’re in the Toronto area this week, I’d love it if you could stop by the court house – seventh floor, 393 University Avenue. I hear Mark Steyn might even be there himself!
I wanted to tell your contribution didn’t just help me financially, it’s an enormous morale boost, too. To know that so many Canadians care about freedom of speech, and want me to stand up to these bullies, gives me great confidence.
The whole point of Islamic lawfare is to exhaust their target”. In fact, even though Mark Steyn technically “won” his case in B.C., Awan still boasted afterwards that “we attained our strategic objective — to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material.”
He admits that lawfare is his official strategy. So I’m so glad you’ve helped cover my costs.
Since this lawsuit deals with events that happened before I joined the Sun News Network, the Sun’s lawyers aren’t helping me. I’m on my own – but you’ve made sure I’m not alone.
If you can’t come to the court house, you can still keep up with the trial on my website, www.StandWithEzra.ca. We’ll give you a brief daily update and post links to any press coverage.
Thanks again for your help. And if you know anyone else who might want to join our fight for freedom please ask them to visit www.StandWithEzra.ca too.
P.S. Thanks again. Now let’s go win this thing!
This is most excellent news!!!
As I reported earlier, when the court ruling for the Fourniers and Free Dominion came down, the ruling had indeed been in their favour. However, Richard Warman had appealed and so, having won, their federal case dragged on…
Today, the appeal had been dropped. From Free Dominion:
‘Today we received notices of discontinance from the National Post and from RWarman in the copyright case that was set to be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal this coming Wednesday!
We were self-represented in this this case and we won in the lower court but R ichard W arman decided to appeal and the National Post lawyered up and joined in against us.
We fought hard and were so blessed to get two great interveners. The CIPPIC, who also intervened in the privacy motion in the John Doe case, and the CCIA (and American advocacy group that represents Google, eBay, Facebook and many other heavy-hitters).
On the eve of the trial, after all was prepared to go ahead, our opponents just dropped out with no explanation.
We are now entitled to costs on this case, and it is OVER! Great case law has been established, and we have one less lawsuit to think about.
Just a few more weeks and we hope to cross the Baglow one off the list, too!
Onward and upward!
Connie and Mark’
One down, so many more to go… So, while celebrating, why not pop by their legal fund fundraiser and give them some help with the rest of the battles they are fighting on all of our behalfs!
P.S. – I wonder if the EU ruling earlier today had anything to do with the dropping of the appeal…
While most of us would, I hope, consider this common sense, it is nonetheless nice to have the EU courts confirm it.
This is important because the EU has some of the strongest copyright protection laws, which give authors a great deal of control over their published work.
‘The court had to consider whether by providing links Retriever Sverige had taken part in an “act of communication to the public”. Under EU copyright law, authors have the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works.
The court ruled that the law had not been broken because the articles in question were on Goteborgs-Posten’s website and therefore already “freely available”.
In a statement it said: “The owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site.” ‘
A link that would take you behind a pay-wall, that is a different thing…
However, this ruling parallels the victory Connie and Mark Fournier of the now censored Free Dominion had won in Canada’s federal court over Richard Warman, who claimed they had infringed his copyright by linking to an image on his own website. In this particular case, the judge ruled that Warman had complete editorial control over his image and that linking to it, even should a thumbnail be displayed, did not constitute re-publishing it without permission.