When hardworking Ontario families donate to the PC Party, their support is intended to help us win election campaigns, not fight lawsuits. This is why, after becoming Interim Leader, I asked for a review of Party spending, which included limiting our Party’s future legal expenses.
In PCPO v Karahalios, Justice Perell dismissed the PC Party’s action against long time conservative activist and Ontario PC Party loyalist, Jim Karahalios. In January 2018, the previous leader had instructed counsel to file a Notice to Appeal. Appeal materials were due February 12 2018.
After becoming leader, the Party’s interim General Counsel advised me that the appeal would not be successful and the costs associated with the appeal would be in addition to any costs and damages in the underlying lawsuit. I accepted the advice and instructed the Party’s General Counsel to abandon the appeal. It is regrettable that the PC Party even commenced this lawsuit; it should not have been pursued in the first place.
We accept the findings of Justice Perell’s including:
“[The PC Party’s] articulation of the basis of its claims against Mr. Karahalios is fuzzy, it is unclear what is the legal theory of the Party’s application.”
“The facts reveal that at its heart or essence, the [PC] Party’s application is designed to discourage the Respondents [Mr. Karahalios, Take Back Our PC Party and Axe the Carbon Tax] from expressing themselves on matters of public interest and to discourage participation in debates on matters of public interest. The application uses litigation as a means of limiting expression on matters of public interest.”
“There [are] no reasonable grounds to believe that the Party’s unjust enrichment claims and breach of license claim has any merit much less substantial merit…I see no basis for an unjust enrichment claim.”
“It is reasonably arguable that he did not breach the Constitution of the Party…”
“The public interest in the continuance of the Party’s application is modest and vastly outweighed by the public interest in protecting Mr. Karahalios’ expression on matters of public interest.”
We want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Karahalios for his hard work to ensure that our Party Constitution is upheld and that all Party nomination contests are “open, public, and democratic” and in accordance with Ontario’s Election Act, and in his efforts to call for the re-opening of nominations that were not held in this fashion – as has now been done in Ottawa West-Nepean and Scarborough-Centre.
No PC Party activist conducting grassroots campaigns in accordance with our Party’s constitution, should ever have to go through what Mr. Karahalios went through – barring him from our party’s convention, revoking his membership, and forcing him to defend against a frivolous and vexatious lawsuit.
Our focus should be on unity and winning elections, not hopeless lawsuits against loyal conservatives.