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Ottawa CAS Innocent

June 29, 2011 permalink

John Dunn's private prosecution of CAS for failure to supply a membership list has been dismissed by the judge.

The law as written is about as clear as possible, and Dufferin CAS complied by supplying a membership list to Dufferin VOCA several times during its membership drive from 2000 to 2002. It was so clear that CAS found it necessary to sponsor an amendment to the law to eliminate the membership list requirement. The new legislation has not yet been proclaimed as law and the old law applied to Mr Dunn's case.

According to the news, the judge seems to have been influenced by John Dunn's opposition to some of the policies of CAS. The law defines legitimate use of the membership list:

Purposes connected with the corporation include any effort to influence the voting of shareholders or members at any meeting of the corporation and include the acquisition or offering of shares to acquire control or to effect an amalgamation or reorganization and any other purpose approved by the Minister. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.38, s. 306.

Source: Corporations Act, section 306(3)

Since the judge has amended this to exclude critics, even the mildest such as Mr Dunn, the membership list cannot be used as part of an effort to change policy. Ontario really does need ombudsman oversight.



CAS not required to provide membership list, justice of the peace rules

OTTAWA — An Ontario justice of the peace has dismissed a private prosecution charge brought against the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa by a former Crown ward after the society failed to provide him with a list of its members’ names and contact information.

John Dunn said he wants to change CAS membership bylaws so that former Crown wards of the Ottawa society can become non-voting members. Currently, members have to reside or work in Ottawa.

He was seeking membership names under the Ontario Corporations Act so that he could try to garner 10 per cent of the members’ support for his bylaw change, which would force the issue to be brought to the CAS board.

But Justice of the Peace Brian Mackey said the elements of the offence were not met. He said the society’s board of directors considered the request, but was not obliged to accept it, given Dunn’s history with the organization.

“In fact, the requirement is not so encompassing that it takes away the decision-making process,” Mackey said.

This is the second time Dunn has charged the CAS with failing to furnish a list of members under the Act.

In 2007, he made a similar request for members’ information in pursuit of a bylaw change to allow Crown wards under the age of 18 to become non-voting members of the society.

But the CAS maintained that Dunn would misuse the information and harass the members with his advocacy campaigns. “It’s just unacceptable to the Children’s Aid Society that he gets his hands on the list,” Danesh Rana, counsel for the CAS, told the court. Rana said Dunn’s advocacy efforts in the past have slandered and belittled the CAS. “He attacks the society under the auspices of advocacy, but it is not advocacy.”

On behalf of the defence, Rana brought up past examples of Dunn’s e-mail, poster and blog campaigns that demonstrated an anti-CAS sentiment. “His behaviour did not merit the list,” Rana said.

Dunn said the CAS’s assumption that he would do something malicious with the information was unfair. “I would never do that because it would ruin everything I could possibly do legally in the future. And that would be very damaging to my work,” Dunn said.

CAS executive director Barbara MacKinnon said she was relieved by the decision.

On several occasions during the trial, the defence alleged that Dunn had slandered the CAS and some of its board members but said it would never seek damages against Dunn.

“We have avoided taking any legal action against Mr. Dunn … because we do feel sympathy for his history as a Crown ward,” MacKinnon said.

Dunn had also charged MacKinnon with failing to provide a list, but dropped the charge during the trial out of good faith, he said.

Dunn said he would appeal the dismissal.

Source: Ottawa Citizen