In a surprise today, the local Metroland newspaper refused to run our “paid” editorial satirical cartoon that captures the latest round of the fight. Up until now, the paper has been covering much of the events surrounding the controversial Edgehill Park outcry as well as this group’s opposition to the chosen location and the issues surrounding Council’s dogged determination to continue the re-zoning despite so many reasons to pause the process for reflection and second thought.
The paper paper provided the following as their reasoning for not running the paid insertion in this week’s edition:
Citing laws of Defamation in Ontario and their assertion that the cartoon was “too controversial” – “Metroland has determined that the libel risk prohibits the running of this ad in The Midland Mirror.”
Now, we are not lawyers, but we know how to use the internet. We found the following that confirmed our existing belief that those who publish the truth are in no danger of either libel or slander as long as it can be backed up by fact.
OVERVIEW OF THE LAW OF DEFAMATION IN ONTARIO
Defamation is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as: The act of harming the reputation of another by making a false statement to a third person…A false written or oral statement that damages another’s reputation.– Sep 26, 2007
It only takes reading the first few paragraphs of the law (http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90l12) to see how this political matter could easily be considered privileged and that since it is based solely on facts that there is no jeopardy to any party.
THE OFFENDING POLITICAL SATIRE CARTOON
The cartoon above, simply tells the truth (that Waypoint has hired big-gun lawyers to insert themselves into a zoning bylaw OMB appeal aimed solely at the Town of Midland) we would argue that there is no risk to the paper or ourselves as long as the statements within it are based solely on fact – which they are.
Click here to read the whole story that accompanies the cartoon.
The only other explanation is that the paper’s publishers have cowed to a legal opinion that seems to be flawed or mis-applied and denies impartial and unbiased coverage – preferring instead, the “safe route” when they have no jeopardy in the first place. The short term for their decision to stay away from this paid insertion is simply “Media Bias”.
Sadly, as our only print media news source in the community, it seems that if a topic is “sensitive” or “controversial” we can rest assured that we won’t read about it in their paper and that they have effectively “taken a side” in this battle and aligned themselves with a large and wealthy health corporation and the Town of Midland who both spend far more money in advertising than this small community group.
We won’t bother digging through archives to support our conclusion, as it is easily drawn based on this decision to “play it safe” and refuse to publish a simple political satire cartoon that only speaks the truth about a sad situation in the Town – a fight backed by more than 1800 local readers, taxpayers and residents.
It is truly a dark day when Council ignores so many AND the local news source follows in lock step just when the community needs them the most.
RIP Midland Mirror: You were once a credible and non-partisan news source and we will miss you. We don’t ask that you agree with our views, or take our side, but to deny us paid advertising space to draw attention to a social injustice (supported by a large contingent of our community) simply due to “fear” of baseless retaliation is cowardly and undermines your reputation. Long live a “free” press.