Last week Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, abandoned her libel action against former PC Leader, Tim Hudak. They agreed it was time to bury the hatchet and move on.
Their jointly agreed statement says:
“The lawsuit between us, and the comments that led to it, did not reflect our view that the other is in fact a great mother/father, an honourable person and a dedicated public servant.”
It is hard to imagine the fragile and notoriously litigious former Newmarket councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, saying anything remotely generous about regional councillor John Taylor. She hates him, perhaps even more so than her obsessive-compulsive husband, the always-angry John Blommesteyn. But in suing him for libel President Di Muccio is making a terrible error of judgement.
The Courts are generally loath to intervene in spats between politicians. The defamation bar is set very high indeed.
For his part, Blommesteyn is out to get Taylor for allegedly breaking the rules on campaign finance.
Picking over the entrails
Blommesteyn has asked for a campaign compliance audit of some of the contributions to Taylor’s 2014 election campaign. A meeting to pick over the entrails will be held at 10am tomorrow, Tuesday, 14 July 2015 at 395 Mulock Drive. You can read the paperwork here.
Blommesteyn asserts that Taylor may have contravened the Municipal Elections Act by accepting donations of $750 from three related companies with common ownership. Taylor’s Toronto lawyers put the allegations this way:
“The essence of Blommesteyn’s claim is that Taylor received $750.00 contributions from each of three corporations (namely BionX Canada Ltd., Magna International Ltd., and Stronach Consulting Ltd.) claimed by Blommesteyn, on the strength of a “news blog" of unstated or unknown authorship, to have common ownership.”
Taylor shoots Blommesteyn’s Fox
Taylor says he believed at the time that the three corporations listed above were not linked. But as soon as he became aware of Blommesteyn’s application for a campaign finance audit he, Taylor, started digging and found out there was indeed a connection between two of the three corporations. He immediately refunded the $750 campaign contribution to BionX Canada Ltd
In his evidence Blommesteyn draws attention to the 2014 Candidates’ Guide for Ontario Municipal and School Board Elections which states on page 15:
“There is a $750 limit that applies to each person, corporation and union who contributes to your campaign.”
It goes on:
“If you accept contributions from corporations, you must determine whether the corporations are associated. Generally, corporations are associated if they are owned or controlled by the same person or persons… The contribution limits apply to associated corporations as if they were all a single corporation.”
Taylor’s lawyers address this head on, quoting case law which suggests that
“receiving illegal campaign contributions cannot sensibly be construed to contravene any provision of the Act… if this were not so, a contributor could sabotage the election of a candidate merely by making an illegal donation. Consequently, the only obligation upon a candidate is to return the contravening contribution as soon as possible.”
Whatever form the truth eventually takes, Taylor’s decision to return the $750 campaign contribution will no doubt be heralded as a great victory by Blommesteyn.
Maybe Taylor was not as punctilious as he should have been in checking out whether the donor companies were associated.
But in the hurly burly of a campaign I am sure these slip-ups and oversights can happen. It seems implausible to me that Taylor would knowingly jeopardize his campaign for re-election for the sake of $750.
But others clearly take a different view. They believe Taylor would push his granny under a bus for $10.
Two years ago, one of Blommesteyn’s companies was dissolved for non-compliance by Corporations Canada. He set the company up on 22 September 2010 but, for whatever reason, the required annual filings for 7656092 Canada Inc were not submitted by the due date for 2011 and 2012 and, on 22 July 2013, the corporation was dissolved for non-compliance. I didn’t make a big song and dance about it at the time and brand Blommesteyn a lawbreaker because, then as now, I am prepared to believe there is a perfectly innocent explanation.
To read the documentation in its entirety, open “Documents” in panel top left and navigate to Newmarket. Open “Compliance Audit: Blommesteyn and Taylor”.
You can see details of Blommesteyn’s corporation which was dissolved for non-compliance by navigating to “Correspondence” and opening “Non-compliance”