Many of you are aware of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and their victimization at the hands of Prime Minister Harper’s spokesperson, Jason MacDonald, who so unkindly dismissed NCCM’s objection to the PM’s selection of a Rabbi, saying “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.” .
NCCM (formerly known as CAIR-Can), of course, hotly disputes any such connection.
As such, NCCM announced on May 26th, 2014, their intention to lay a defamation suit. Some more coverage on this is here and here.
So far so good. I mean – bad.
‘Good’ in the sense as in these are agreed-upon, known things.
Yesterday morning, someone who’s been following my Dr. Baglow vs. Freedom of Speech reporting, had tipped me off that a Statement of Defense had been filed ‘in an Ottawa court’, and I, being from Ottawa and knowing the Court House, well, perhaps I could go and fetch it.
Yes, the case is exciting, but now, other bloggers turn to me for Ottawa court news!
(Plus the Municipal Taxpayers Action Group is going to court in Toronto on Monday, the 6th of October, 2014 and had asked if I’d be able to cover it…unfortunately not, but, if you are in Toronto, go and support them! I’ll publish a press release from them as soon as possible about the proceedings on Monday.)
(OK – so it doesn’t take too much to amuse me…but I’ve never claimed it did!)
So, yesterday, instead of writing up Connie’s closing arguments for the Dr. Dawg defamation case (I am a very slow writer – my apologies, but I only have so much time…), I popped over to the Elgin St. Courthouse (Ontario court) because my experience with defamation lawsuits suggests that that is where they’re ‘duked-out’.
So, back to my old haunt I go.
Isn’t it interesting how quickly one becomes a ‘familiar stranger’ if one regularly shows up at even such a busy place as the Ottawa City Hall (best parking for the courthouse) and the Elgin St. courthouse itself. I’ve been there for everyday of one week, then a few days the next week and then I showed up on Thursday of this week…yet, people remember me as a ‘familiar stranger’. Not enough to sit and chat – but well enough to smile, say hi to and otherwise exhibit signs of recognition.
Now, I ought to be clear: I may ‘stick out’ a bit more than some people… Perhaps it’s my look (after all, I DO have the body of a goddess – an Upper Palaeolithic fertility goddess is still a goddess!!!), perhaps it’s my socially awkward demeanour or my silly grin… Or, it may be my eccentric wardrobe (notice than in none of my ‘sartorial reports’ do I describe what it is I am wearing – there is a reason for that….many of my clothes are self-made and show it). Whatever the reason, people do tend to remember me.
Still, whether it was visiting a relative in the hospital for a few weeks or now the courthouse, people tend to quickly begin to regard me as part of the ‘fittings’. It usually starts very casually, but, pretty soon, it is clear that if I were to abuse the situation and ask for access to a restricted area ‘because I forgot my badge that day’, I’d be able to get to just about anywhere….because people naturally form communities and will extend great help to others they perceive as members of their community. It’s one of the best things about people – without this, we would never have built a civilization.
But…when out communities get so large that we begin to extend membership status to people who are only ‘familiar strangers’ (as anthropologists like to put it), the security implications are troubling, at best…
As usual, I am off topic… Refocusing!!!
Once I had irrevocably set my circuits to finding this paperwork, I set out for the Elgin St. court house to hunt them down. But, from past experience, I knew that it was much easier to get public records on a case if I had the case number in hand. So, before I did set out, I took some time to see what I could find online.
I realized that something had to have been filed because I found this most impartial (LOL) report .
“I have no doubt that this punitive prime minister has added the NCCM to his long list of enemies and intends to crush them — if he can — in the courts. So Harper has retained Peter Downard, a top-flight defamation lawyer in Toronto, to carry a big, blunt legal stick for him while he’s busy posturing for another kind of fight with the real terrorists in Islamic State. (Downard is also representing MacDonald.)
Downard may have written his clients’ 22-page statement of defence, but every word of it oozes Harper’s noxious political modus operandi and his distinctly vengeful way with opponents.
Here’s the extent of Harper’s ‘evidence’: The NCCM was once called CAIR-CAN. That acronym was similar to a U.S.-based organization called CAIR. The two groups, NCCM insists, were and remain separate entities.
Not in Harper’s eyes. CAIR once appeared on a list of unindicted co-conspirators entered in a case involving another charity allegedly providing “material support” to Hamas. De facto: CAIR-CAN (now NCCM) and CAIR are one happy Hamas family. Talk about your legal Hail Marys.”
Yeah, riveting reading…but, there is no link (at least, not that I could find) to the actual Statement of Defense (is that not ‘standard’ for journalists?) and nowhere did I find the case number.
Still, having looked at the Notice of Libel (which I found via Atlas Shrugged’s ‘Litigation Jihad’ post, thank you), I wrote down the full names of the litigating parties and, as that was the best I could get, I headed downtown.
Hurry up and wait!
I hurried up to the civil division, took a number – and waited.
The nice bureaucrat at the wicket too a moment to listen to me – and shrugged that without a case number, there is nothing she can do to help. Rather crestfallen, I showed her my notepad with the ‘Notice of Libel’ info jotted down on it hoping this might help….
No such luck. If I wanted any filed document, I’d have to give her the case number.
By now, my lower lip was quivering as I inquired as to how might I proceed to find it…
With this, she could help me – over there, there is a public access terminal and I can go search their database from there to find out the case number. Once I have it, I can come back and she’ll see if she can help me.
Having spent the better part of a decade on the Executive Board of Directors of an IM/IT professionals organization (now officially part of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance), I thought I just might be able to handle a database search, right?
Well, not so much…
It seems that no matter what keyword I entered in what category, I could not find this particular case.
I could find all kinds of other things: for example, case #CV08000410200000has Stephen Harper pitted against the Liberal Party of Canada and the Federal Liberal Agency of Canada. Case #CV080004317100 pits Stephen Harper against the Ottawa Police Board Services et al and case#CV11000532100000 has Helena Geurgis battling Novak et al, including one Harper, Stephen.
But, though there are very many other cases involving ‘a Harper’, these were the only ones I could find involving ‘Stephen Harper’.
And there were absolutely 0 cases involving the National Coalition of Canadian Muslims – or NCCM.
Wondering if, perhaps, I was using the search engine poorly, I thought I’d do a test using some familiar names. Plugging ‘Baglow’ into the search engine uncovered a few cases: ‘Baglow, John v. MacNair, Adrian Raphael Alexander’ is case #CV090004648900SR, ‘Baglow, John v. Smith, Roger et al (that includes Fournier, Connie and Mark) ) is case #CV10000494620000, ‘Baglow, John v. Smith, Roger et al’ (including the same, plus Kelly, Stephen and CCLA is also listed as a participant) is case #CV10000498030000, ‘Baglow, John v. Pearse et al’ (Pearse, Gary; Baman, Gail; The Island Marble Corporation)’ is case #CV99CV0121570000, ‘Baglow, John v. Billings, Rosemary Graham’ is case #FC02FL0017630000 and ‘Baglow, John Sutton v. Barrymore’s Music Hall’ is case #SC08001042970000.
There is no way of knowing, without doing some legwork outside of the court house, if all these ‘Baglow, John’ people are, indeed, the same person. But, having come up with this list made me fairly confident that I was indeed using the database search engine effectively.
Having drawn a blank, I went back to the wicket… The nice bureaucrat who had helped me earlier was away for the moment, but a younger, prettier one took pity on me and heard me out. Taking my notepad, she entered the names into the terminal in front of her and, in a few keystrokes, told me that they did not have any such case in this courthouse’s database.
No, it did not mean the case is not in front of the Superior Court of Ontario – just that it is not registered in this particular courthouse and thus it is not scheduled to be heard there.
No, she had no idea where else it might be heard, or how I could find out the case number.
Yes, she agreed, without knowing the case number, I am not likely to get far…
My time being up, I left rather crestfallen…
After some back-and-forth communications with my betters, I got only one suggestion: try the Federal Court in the Thomas D’Arcy McGee building on Sparks St..
Yes – I was a bit skeptical – defamation is, in my experience, a provincial matter. But, as this involves the current holder of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada as well as Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, there could be some weird twist to this and not checking the Federal Court records would be a serious omission.
So, today, instead of writing up Connie’s closing argument – off to Sparks St. I go!
he nice people at the information desk of the Thomas D’Arcy McGee building directed me to the Federal Court’s registrar’s office and, as soon as I walked in, a nice (very good looking) young man in a green t-shirt and faded blue ‘skinny-jeans’ smiled at me in acknowledgement while he finished up a phone call, then came right over. He took my info down cheerfully and started clicking away at his computer.
He clicked and he clicked and he clicked…
Every minute or so, I heard a ‘loud click’. It took me a while to trace the sound – it was a little machine on the desk used for date/time stamping documents as they were submitted! OK – now I knew the source and the reason for the sound. Still, every time it ‘clicked’ in the hushed room, I just about ‘jumped out of my skin’! (Gosh – I hope that is not a ‘racist’ sentiment!!!)
As he was searching, the nice young man chatted with me a bit – not ‘polite small-talk’ but actually ‘down-to-the-point questions. I explained my situation, and that if only I could find out the case#, I could probably ‘run with it’. He smiled disarmingly – the case # is what THEY like to work with, too!
He truly did all he could to find the case # – but, he failed…
As of now, I am no closer to figuring this out..
Oh – I almost forgot: this morning, I also called the PMO’s office in the morning to try and find the case #. I phoned (613) 992-4211 – and the nice lady who answered the phone said I’d need to speak to ‘one of the aids’ about this. She transferred me helpfully, and all I gt was an answering machine: so, I left my name, contact info and that I am looking for any info about this case in general and the case # in particular. As of now, I have not heard back…
If you, my dear reader, have any suggestions as to how I could follow up on this, I would greatly welcome your help!!!