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February 23, 2012

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Maybe the fact that the police had infiltrated the protest groups and were actively instigating and encouraging some of the "illegal" activities has something to do with dropping the case.
Also, why was the city represented by a Hamilton law firm? Don't we have lawyers here?

A $5 million dollar suit against five individuals with barely five beans to rub together, a vague group called LIMITs and John and Jane Doe (individuals to be named later).

Nothing but a SLAPP (or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) designed to stifle dissent.

You can argue all you like about the inappropriateness of the protesters eleventh hour challenge but SLAPPs have no place in a healthy democracy.

Now that the SLAPP suit has been dropped, let the healing begin.

$59,000 to settle this issue but $250,000 plus to retain the Mcrae medals? Add to this that no details are available in either case and I have to ask, can we please have this investigated by a competent outside source?
All this money was paid to private law firms from outside the city of Guelph, which leads me to my final question. Why does Guelph have a legal department of it's own if it doesn't ever use it? Is it because they know the names of all the really good lawyers?

Wow, these lefty green radicals only cost the city taxpayers $59,276?? I'm sure it was a lot more than that!

Shame on them, nothing but arrogant radicals. They don't represent the average Guelpher.

The city should have had them rounded up and kicked out from day one. This coddling of these protest groups costs us too much money and time. aka "Guelph Factor".

Shame on them!

Just wondering, Steve, can you point me to the evidence that the police who had "infiltrated the protest groups"...were "actively instigating and encouraging some of the 'illegal' activities".??
I'm honestly curious.
And Jan, I agree, SLAPPs have no place in a healthly democracy; and the methods of the late HCBP occupiers don't, either.
-Jason

Jason,

Here's a Record article about it...
http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/631759

I suppose in your mind, illegally blockading a company's lawful course of business qualifies as the "Public Participation" part of SLAPP, Jan?

During the protest, my running route often took me past the site. The smell of pot was inevitable, the site a dump. No effort to engage passers-by, no effort to tidy up, no effort on signs, no effort at all, that I could see. Just sitting around, smoking dope, look at us sticking it to "the man."

What a pile of crap. And these people your heroes, Jan?

The city dropped the suit because it already won. We were never going to recover a dime: proceeding would have cost more money for no gain. The development is going ahead, which is what the city wanted. I score it as total victory with a slight delay and a surprisingly cheap legal bill, considering.

I propose an acronym for the protesters: SLOPP.

Stoned Losers Obstructing Progress and Prosperity.

GOC:
It still cost the taxpayers almost $60,000 to "Win"! Ihat amount is a genuine waste of taxpayer $$$
Of course if the Police had remembered the laws of Tresspass or Drug Possesion then we could have "Won" much quicker and at much less cost. This is not the first time that the Police have failed to do their job while Her Whoship(sic) was/is Mayor.
Keep singing the praises of the Mayor, your attempts to make a silk purse are ridiculous.

The mayor and her lawyers sue a Carden St, merchant over a 3 Stooges photo. The mayor or her people get a Mayoralty candidate kicked out of 2 different campaign events by stealing emails and trumping up charges. The mayor's own campaign manager impersonates 8 other people to slag rival candidates and yet still keeps her job and even receives a performance bonus. The mayor and her Swiss Bank partners sue a bunch of kids in an effort to chill future opposition. I think that we would have a kinder, gentler leadership under Rob Ford.

Couldn't agree more on the waste of dollars, Serious. There is something seriously wrong when the authorities permit this kind of obstructionism under the guise of protest.

I am happy with the outcome only in that I have become accustomed to this pattern of endless delay engineered by the left, not to legitimately examine an issue, but solely to delay it out of existence. Much like they're trying to do to Northern Gateway.

Me, Grumpy, "singing the priases of the Mayor?" You serious, Serious?

I just noticed that my acronym for this kind of frivolous, delay-oriented, and ultimately useless protest, SLOPP--Stoned Losers Obstructing Progress and Prosperity--also accurately describes the entire 'Occupy' movement as well.

Funny, that.

GOC
Your awesome acronym, SLOPP is also the perfect description of Guelph's current administration.

Hey Grumpy!

Where on earth did I say that these people were my heroes?

Its refreshing to know that you are so concerned about the erosion of our democracy, our environment and the future we leave to our children, grandchildren etc.

On the plus side, I'm happy to read that you get out of your car now and again.

There's hope for the human race, after all.

Thanks for the link, Steve, interesting article & I'm glad to see there's an investigation underway. Of course, there's a flip-side here: the police obviously deemed it necessary (we can only assume the criteria, but can't discount it) at some point to "infiltrate" this "group" and keep close tabs on its activities. Can the undercover officers be blamed for participating in such a way that maintains their cover? Maybe, maybe not, I'm sure it depends on many things. To use a weak comparison: sometimes the cops have to break the speed limit to catch the speeders.

Of course you didn't say these people were your heroes, Jan. That's just grump's predictable reductico ad absurdum response to everything here. He can't be bothered to support his own argument, so he just amuses himself by belittling others'. Problem is he doesn't do it very well and usually derails the discussion.

He can't help it though. He went to the same school of intellectual prose as Vic "if you're not with us, you are with the child pornographers" Toews. We just need to cut the old guy a bit of slack.

Steve I wonder as well, as to why we have a legal department if we are farming out our need for legal services. Can anyone answer this one?

Is our legal department there simply to advise which legal firm we should use? Is there some kind of conflict if we use our own legal department? Do we not have the right people in the legal department or has this industry set itself up in such specialties that we need 100 lawyers to handle most situations. Why do we pay such high salaries to the legal department if they can't defend us in legal matters?

Maybe all we need is a legal consultant who advises as needed and we could cut costs on payroll at city hall.

It is bad enough that the male undercover cop tried more than anyone else in the group to incite violence, but we also paid him overtime to bang the girls so as to disrupt everything through the creation of jealousies and sexual tension. How come our side can lie and cheat and get paid for it, while the other side is demonized for standing up for their beliefs? Since when did Ontario become BC?

Ray, holy smokes, what was in that punch?

"Mop-up in Aisle 12, please."

Isn't this just about ensuring this issue is resolved ahead of the 2014 election?

Yeah, Ray, the cops did it all.

I admit it. It was all a military-industrial complex bid to discredit noble SLOPP.

Now you can go back to conspiracytheory.com.

DC: Talk about predictable. I admit to a bit of exaggeration, some hyperbole to make a point.

Sorry Jan. I withdraw the word " heroes."

Please insert instead: "...persons who are implicitly and unreasonably represented as justly struggling visionaries through politically motivated focus on and publicizing of such persons' supposedly positive actions and motivations, while presenting only the most cursory coverage of the many and obvious negative aspects of such persons' actions."

Nah. I'll stick with "heroes."

Everyone with a brain got the idea.

.

.

.

(Oops! Did I hyperbole again? Jan and DC, I truly am sorry: please realize that I didn't really think you are literally functioning without a full one brain each. I mean, that's clearly impossible, of course I know that nobody can function without a brain! But I wrote it, so I must take the responsibility of clarifying for those who thought my little exaggeration was intended literally. Wow, I guess I really looked silly there when I implied --and there was a clear implication there, I admit-- that you two have no brains. Because it would be really, really silly of me to expect readers to recognize hyperbole when they read it.)

An undercover officer often has to bend or even break the law so as to not blow their cover, I can live with that. But this one seemed to be especially zealous in carrying out his "duties", and seemed to go over the line when it was all rather minor stuff. These kids have never represented that much of a threat, their actions are aimed at things and institutions but not people. I just don't like the thought of the state as agent provocateur.

I don't like the "agent provocateur" idea either, Ray. But really, why use the word "kids"? They're not kids, not literally or figuratively. Nor were their actions or intents "rather minor stuff". And institutions & things are made, maintained, and cared-about by people, Ray, you know that. I'm very surprised by your white-washing here.

Oh come on. What were you most in favour of, the killing of flies with sledge hammers or the fact that the police think that any ends justify any means. The two undercover police cost the taxpayers over $500,000, and it sure didn't prevent much trouble from going down at the G20. It all seems to be manufactured crises to justify massive increases in police budgets when the crime rate is at a 40 year low, and of course they are kids, not bikers or Russian or Italian mafia. They are also the people that work in our old folk homes and injection sites and food banks, and do all of the jobs that we don't want to. I'm happy to have them in our community, and I wish that the rest of us had their strengths of conviction.

There is unfortunately a fine line between undercover work and acting as an agent provocateur.

This is an article from the UK Guardian but it is still worth reading to show how things can go very wrong when an undercover police officer oversteps the line:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/10/activists-undercover-officer-mark-kennedy?intcmp=239

There is also ample evidence (including video) to suggest that there were undercover police officers acting as agent provocateurs at the G20 in Toronto and previously in 2007 at meetings of the Security and Prosperity Partnership in Montebello (in relation to a peaceful rally organized by the Council of Canadians taking place there).

As a simple Google search should provide all you need.

As a society we need to be aware of the potential for abuse of police powers.

I'm with Ray on this one.

We should be very concerned whenever this goes on.

Some of the behaviours and workings of these folks are exemplary with their work towards reducing poverty.

These same individuals then manage to get involved in harsh and illegal destruction of property belonging to or operated by major Corporations to "prove a point" , conceal their identities to deceive and my favourite, burn Police cars.

I wager that if that torched cruiser had been on a corner in downtown Guelph instead of downtown Toronto and it was your store front window Ray, you'd not be so happy to have them in our community. Out of sight out of mind?

"...conceal their identities to deceive..."

You're talking about the police at the G20, right?

Wouldn't bother me nearly as much as gas at $1.30 a litre, BMO's quarterly profit of $1.1 billion (BILLION!), getting constantly screwed by the 1% who then get defended by the very people they are screwing. Crime is at a 40 year low, Guelph has 200+ policing staff to solve 11 crimes a day (3,900 in 2011), and the local police want a 6% increase to buy survelience equipment. Who the hell are they surveiling? It is the 1% that are "out of sight, out of mind", but they are pulling a lot more strings than the anarchists are.

Ray has a point. If anyone, with any sense understands anything about demography, that little detail of the "baby boom", they'd understand that the majority of the population is aging.

So why are police budgets increasing exponentially? The city of London, Ontario, for example, just spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 million dollars on a new police station?

But its ok for people like j dimontino to worry more about the relatively small costs to society an even smaller minority of young people, who fashion themselves as "anarchists", cause with their often destructive antics--than the bleeding dry of the taxpayer for the unjustifiable and unnecessarily burgeoning military-industrial-prison complex--and the ensuing push-back on civil liberties (re: steve's comment re the "G20").

We always need to keep at least one eye on the big picture.

And when you make a point, like I just did to those like him, you don't get a coherent argument - just name calling. Its an old, tired tactic that dates back, at least, to 1920s Europe. (and yes, jason, I am far far from what you could typify as a "commie" or "pinko". and I am also ex-military.)


Ernie said...

"and yes, jason, I am far far from what you could typify as a "commie" or "pinko". and I am also ex-military."

Don't tell me, Ernie, your Marty Burke too! :)

Good crack everyone!

Jan

As a business owner Ray you are part of the exact same free enterprise system that allows your aforementioned Corporations to profit generously.

11 crimes a day...surely you understand policing is much much more then just the crimes where criminal code charges are laid. Besides, policing is not an either or game. They don't decide go after the arnachists OR the speeders OR the crack dealers.

Being a business owner doesn't make Ray a Corporatist. The (regulated) free enterprise system is fine. The problem Ray is talking about is when the richest corporations and individuals use their wealth to buy political influence in order to further game the system to their advantage, at the expense of the rest of us.
The police are increasingly being used to protect the 1% and their interests from opposition. Cracking down on anarchist groups and like-minded organizations is part of that.
Convincing small-c conservatives to keep voting for them is another.

Part of the police budget was blown when two of them came into my store on behalf of the Chief and told me to remove a toy plastic 1950's era gun from my front window. More was spent 'phoning me to tell me that a fellow citizen found an Anthrax CD in my front window "offensive." More still finding out if I was cutting brake lines because I had an anti-Liberal t-shirt in the window. I love the comedy of it all, the fact that 9 shots failed to kill a 3-legged coyote and that paramedics were kept from a dead body that then came back to life. I just hate to see the police budget sky-rocket when there is less and less crime everyday. Something is broken.

Dear Jan et. al.,

I disagree that this was a SLAP suit. The purpose of a SLAP is to intimidate activists with serious negative consequences, generally financial ruin, if they continue to protest. To be effective, the activists must have no option but to give up or suffer legal consequences. This was not the case here, I respectfully suggest. As I recall the $5 million was clearly for FUTURE financial damage the city might suffer at the hands of protesters. LIMITS and their allies could have protested as much as they wanted—all they had to do to avoid being sued was not cause any more physical damage that we taxpayers would have to pay for via the city’s coffers. Perhaps technically the law suit could have been used to go after the activists for prior damage, but in context that was clearly not its purpose. Had that been the intent, the city could have done so earlier as part of the action they did take against LIMITS. And now after the fact, my contention is established by events--no action was ever taken for prior damage.

Had the city sued for damage already caused, then, yes, I agree that would have been a SLAP action, because LIMITS would have had no option but give up or get nailed.

It is not difficult to protest effectively without causing damage—its takes creativity, it takes ingenuity, and we all know that this group had demonstrated they had plenty of both. The opposite of damage-causing activism is not polite placard-only protest—it can be disruptive, attention grabbing, empathy generating, arrest-soliciting successful protest.

What about all subsequent damage caused by chainsaws and bulldozers? Perspective can be a bitch.

Apparently, things only have value if they have monetary value. The damage you're talking about can't be directly measured in dollars and therefore is valueless.

Time will tell if the HCBP was a mistake -- but the powers-that-be can't be faulted for doing "something" towards making our community more competitive when it comes to winning deals and landing jobs.

Having a fabulous downtown library may help downtown merchants but I think we can all agree it wouldn't motivate someone to locate their business here if fairly immediate access to the 401 is high on their list and we don't have the land for the footprint they are looking to build to.

The powers-that-be would have been called out for not building the park, allowing time and the world to pass Guelph over, and they would have been right to be. The decision to go forward with the HCPB was in a very real way if not explicitly made for them the day all the farms were bought up and the Hanlon was connected to the 401. It seemed somewhat inevitable -- expanding the "inventory" of ready development lands a stone's throw from the 401 and therefore relatively very close to Toronto and the world.

The question is, what would have happened if it wasn't completed. Suppose the protestors were successful in stopping the development -- what responsibilities would they have been accepting to make up the jobs and the development cash and the future stream of taxes that were lost as a result. This is what I am talking about when I refer to accountability. There isn't any, really, apart from legal action. Accountability lies with our duly-elected, who can be re-elected or turfed out depending on how they perform. It's not perfect but it's what we got, because at the end of the day we all recognize that there is higher good in having accountability.

What we have to now watch is if and how long and at what cost the HCBP fills up. We have eliminated a huge reason why we aren't able to attract the Toyotas of the world with this park. If we don't secure them now, it's not for a lack of ready lands with ready access to the 401. It will be because of something... else. Which may very well be something that can be a lot harder to address than what can be accomplished with bulldozers. It could be the markets. It could be something else. But the room for excuses is smaller now.

Let's hope the re-org at City Hall helps to move us forward.

As I said, time with tell.

Steve and Ray, the costs to the economy associated with removing "green capital" can be measured, it just isn't and certainly not by a value that fully recognizes impact.

Whoa, okay, let's take a step back here for a sec. Looks like some clarification is in order, and I'll start.
Ray and Jan (and to an extent, Steve) you'll get no argument from me on the Agent Provocateur stuff. I'll echo Jan's words, we should be very concerned about this. What I do disagree with is the unfolding inference that the "kids" are really harmless, have done nothing wrong, are fabulous contributors to society, and the evil cops and Steve's monstrously devious 1% are really to blame for everything. Are we talking about the same "kids", Ray et al, the ones who "work in our old folk homes and injection sites and food banks, and do all of the jobs that we don't want to"? If these are the Kids who choose to protest peacefully, obey the law, and use their brains & wit to effect positive change, then we're in absolute agreement. That's what I'm talking about. If it's the Kids who slap on masks, torch cars and damage property... well, who are YOU talking about, Ray?

Ernie... okay, I'll admit it, in past posts I've thrown a few bombs at you re: the "commie" line. But lately you've been posting some decent stuff (see "Any Guesses on the Company" topic) so I'm a little disappointed at the re-hash and the "...bleeding dry of the taxpayer for the unjustifiable and unnecessarily burgeoning military-industrial-prison complex" statement, but what the hell. Let's keep each other on our toes and not on our heels. We do, as you say, need to keep an eye on the big picture, ernie. The big picture also includes those groups that you and Ray may fortuitously wave-off as "just kids."

Jan, just a suggestion: you've talked to the Ben Bennetts and Matt Soltys's of our community on your program. In previous posts you've made some, well, short comments about developers. You've also descibed yourself as a "progressive" (correct me if I'm wrong). Why not be progressive and invite a developer or two on your program? Find out what business is like from their viewpoint, get a comment about this "Guelph Factor" thing? Heck, might be interesting in a CFRU sort of way.

BTW, Dennis Galon, good post.
-Jason

Dennis, the lawsuit's statement of claim includes the following: "Damages in the amount of $5,000,000.00 for conspiracy, interference with economic relations, inducing breach of contract, trespass, nuisance, and intimidation." Note that these costs say nothing about damage to lands or equipment, they are all related to loss of business. "Interference with economic relations" can be interpreted very broadly to mean any activity that might affect business at HCBP, and that could include lawful protests. Tell me this wouldn't - and didn't - put a chill on any further debate on the HCBP issue! Also, the lawsuit was dropped to $150,000.00 at one point, which is a far more realistic number if considering real property damage. The City then decided to crank it back up to $5,000,000 in early 2010. Was the City suddenly expecting $4,850,000.00 more in real property damage to occur at the site? This was clearly a SLAPP-style lawsuit with the intention of shutting down dissent and debate (note the inclusion of "John Doe, Jane Doe, and other persons unknown" in the statement of claim) and protecting business interests. That the City was the main proponent of this lawsuit is troubling at best.

Thank you, Dave Sills, for settling the question of the political orientation of the yourself and the GCL.

Jan, Ray, Steve, Ernie: You all sound the same, all of a sudden. Why don't you get together, pass around a joint, sing kumbaya a few times, and talk about politics? I'm sure there's lots of common ground. You can start by discussing your entitlements, talk about how the government should provide well-paid jobs without industrial development, and finish on how the evil 1% are taking something from you by working and investing while you sit around smoking dope.

Ray: Yes, the crime rate is going down, because, uh, we're all singing more kumbaya. The falling crime rate has nothing to do with more and better enforcement. It's all kumbaya.

Can I get a show of hands: who's deathly afraid of police powers but supports innumerable regulations designed to protect me from myself?

Jason,

Thanks for the suggestion of an interview with developers for Beyond the Ballot box on CFRU 93.3fm. It would be interesting and something that we've been considering.

I should also mention that we have an interview with Lloyd Longfield from the Guelph Chamber of Commerce in the pipeline. It should hopefully air in the 8-9 a.m. slot later in March.

This Monday, March 5, our guest between 8-9 a.m. will be Judith McKenzie, professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. We'll be talking about the federal political scene, Judith's recent book Dynasties and Interludes, as well as, in reference to International Women's Day, March 8... women in politics.

The infamous Michael Sona and Pierre Poutine will, I'm sure, also get a mention on the Gang of Four roundtable, Monday 7-8 a.m. :)

GoC... I know you are not M. Burke (who is a bona-fide imbecile). Judging by your writing, I'd say that it takes a smart man to play dumb. Brilliant trolljob though.

You ask for a show of hands as to who's deathly afraid of police powers--but supports innumerable regulations designed to protect you from yourself?

These two things are not mutually exclusive. But you knew that, didn't you?

I am, however, anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist, and anti-corporatist. (at the end of the day, does it really matter if its someone's right or left foot that's up your backside?)

These days it seems like we have a gun held to both sides of the head of civil liberties; on the right side, a police state, on the left, a nanny state. Many of us, who do realize that with rights come personal responsibilities, are held hostage in the middle in this outdated, unhelpful, zero-sum right-left dichotomy. Divided, by design.

That's because political views can't be reduced to a left/right dichotomy. A better system, although still far from perfect, has four quadrants: Left/ Right along with Libertarian/Authoritarian. The website politicalcompass.org has a quiz that can show where you fit on the scale.
Here's their take on the 2011 federal election: http://www.politicalcompass.org/canada2011

GOC, this has nothing to do with political orientation. This was all about the City, as part of a public-private partnership related to the HCBP, reducing transparency and discouraging citizen engagement. If you weren't aware that these are issues that I am concerned about - individually and as president of the GCL - then please educate yourself - http://guelphcivicleague.blogspot.com.

If, by "reducing citizen engagement" you mean "tossing the trespassers off the site," then yes, that's what the city did.

But, if you're in favour of citizen engagement, and legality doesn't mean much to you, I'm okay with that. Let's allow the protestors to protest just as much as they like. Let's allow citizens, as many as would like, to occupy the site, too.

That enough citizen engagement for you, Dave? Good.

But we have to allow all citizens to be engaged, Dave, not just the dope-smoking, olympic-torchbearer-tackling free-riders. And since you're not concerned with legality, let's let citizens, as many as would like to, show up and toss the protesters off the site. Literally.

I'm all for citizen engagement.

Why am I not surprised the self-professed Libertarian is actually an Authoritarian war-on-drugs law-an-order type?
I guess one of the personal freedoms you fight for is the freedom to be hypocritical.

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Joanne

Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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About Chris

  • Chris Herhalt
    covers municipal affairs and politics for the Guelph Mercury. Prior to joining the Mercury he worked at The Record of Waterloo Region and at The Canadian Press. He can be reached at cherhalt@guelphmercury.com