February 26, 2014
(Next hearing: Tuesday March 4th @ 9:30 AM in the Museum room at Osgoode Hall)
Kopyto’s last witness in his good character hearing next Tuesday (March 4th) will be a client of Harry’s named Mike. He will testify about how he is a victim of discrimination by his employer and about how Harry is doing a good job representing him in a human rights case.
Mike is a teacher. He had a heart ailment that required him to take time off from his teaching job in a high school in Hamilton. Mike got better and his doctor cleared him to return to full-time work. But the Roman Catholic School Board insisted that he could only come back and work part-time. The Board did not have medical grounds for doing so. They even threatened to call the police to remove him from the school when he continued to work one afternoon. So Mike filed a human rights complaint alleging discrimination against him because of his disability.
One in a Million Coincidence
Now it gets interesting.
The school board hired a lawyer. In one of those one-in-a-million coincidences, that lawyer’s name was Margot Blight. The same Margot Blight that is the Chair of the three-person Panel judging Harry’s character. The same Margot Blight that Mike will have to testify before at Harry’s character hearing next Tuesday. The same Margot Blight who was the architect of the school board’s defence against Mike in his human rights complaint. The same Margot Blight that authored the false allegations contained in the documents that Mike will refer to while he is in the witness stand to prove the discrimination against him at the hearing next Tuesday.
There is more. Read the rest of this entry »
February 12, 2014
Harry Kopyto’s Law Society hearings are continuing tomorrow Thursday February 13th and Tuesday February 18th (hearings have also been scheduled for Tuesday March 4th and Wednesday March 5th). Harry’s clients will be appearing on these days as witnesses to testify about their cases and Harry’s role in helping them fight for justice.
The three-person Panel judging Harry’s character has yet to provide reasons why its Chair, Margot Blight, refused to recuse herself even though she placed herself in a conflict by acting professionally against one of his witnesses, Mike Giftopoulos. It is now four months since she was formally challenged to withdraw and almost six months since Harry first raised the conflict.
Last November, Ms. Blight announced that the reasons were “half-finished”. When Kopyto raised the lengthy delay during his hearing on February 10th, Ms. Blight apologized profusely but pooh-poohed his request that she render her decision before Mr. Giftopolous testifies so that at least his client’s anxiety of having his evidence weighed by a judge who opposed his Human Rights Complaint would be lessened by a decision that would explain Ms. Blight’s decision to remain on the panel. It is clear that Ms. Blight is out for blood.
With the Panel’s neutrality in tatters and all the witnesses hammering home Harry’s sterling efforts to help them, often for little or no financial charge, your presence and support at these upcoming hearings is more important then ever.
The hearings continue at Osgoode Hall which can best be accessed through the Law Society’s entrance off City Hall Square on the east side of the building in downtown Toronto. They start at 9:30 a.m. Show your solidarity and support. Be there.
February 5, 2014
The Law Society will be proceeding with its hearings into Harry’s character at Osgoode Hall on Monday February 10, 2014 and on Thursday February 13, 2014. There is an additional hearing scheduled for Tuesday February 18, 2014.
The hearings will all be starting at 9:30 a.m. However, they will not take place in the Museum Room which has been the usual venue. The venue for the Monday February 10th hearing will be in the Lamont Learning Centre. The hearing on Thursday February 13th will be in the Lower Barrister Room. Both rooms are on the first floor of Osgoode Hall.
The easiest way to access the hearing rooms is through the Law Society entrance into Osgoode Hall which is on the east side of Osgoode Hall off the City Hall Square.
Most of the witnesses who will be testifying will be Harry’s clients. Everyone is encouraged to attend and show their solidarity and support for Harry as well as for his clients and other witnesses testifying on his behalf.
January 31, 2014
High hopes that a mediated resolution of the Law Society’s trial of Harry Kopyto’s character would take place have been dashed on the craggy rocks of the Law Society’s intransigence. Three days of hearings―mostly of evidence from Harry’s own character witnesses―are scheduled at Osgoode Hall on Monday February 10th, Thursday February 13th and Tuesday February 18th. Everyone is urged to attend.
The last two hearing dates held in November, 2013 saw several of Harry’s clients give evidence that shattered the Society’s false portrayal of Harry as self-interested. Each witness gave testimony that hammered home Harry’s commitment to his clients’ interests.
Readers should recall the crisis that now looms over the hearing. On October 15th, Panel Chair Margot Blight rebuffed an effort by Harry to remove her from the three-person panel judging his character. The grounds for his request? Blight represented an employer of one of his witnesses, Mike Giftopoulos, who is also a client of Harry’s. Harry’s allegations of perception of bias and conflict of interest (Blight’s firm removed her from the Giftopoulos file last August but assigned a colleague of Blight’s to replace her) couldn’t be stronger.
Yet now, almost 4 months after her refusal to resign from the Panel and over 5 months after Harry raised the issue in August when Blight was still acting against Giftopoulos, she still has to provide an explanation for her outrageous decision. It was within that context that Blight pleaded with the two Law Society prosecutors to mediate with Harry last November. Read the rest of this entry »
December 13, 2013
Holy Cow! Can this really be happening?
Blowing Kisses to Each Other
After five years of gut-twisting, body-busting, hate-inducing contempt-filled no-holds-barred megawar on the terrain of the Law Society’s hearing room on the second floor of Osgoode Hall, we pinch ourselves and ask again: Is this happening? No, we answer, it can’t be happening. It must be a dream and yet…and yet…we rub our eyes. It’s really happening!
There they are, Margot Blight, hit-person brought in by Big Law for the kill and Harry Kopyto, shit-disturber par excellence… For 50 torturous days, lunging for each other’s throats… are they really blowing kisses to each other now?
How suddenly our deepest-held beliefs can be shattered as reality turns on a dime. Who would have believed that Margot Blight, brandishing her bronze scimitar inches away from Harry’s professional neck for years, ready to draw blood―in an instant of timidity―would greet him at the opening of another day of hearings into his moral character with heartfelt congratulations on his sporty new haircut? And who would believe that Harry’s spontaneous response, “I hoped you would notice,” would draw a smile from the usually disdainful paralegal panel member, Michelle Tamlin? What, indeed, is going on? What has made these erstwhile sworn enemies competing in the degree of urgency of their mutual dislike suddenly drop their weapons and, in place of extreme fighting, gesture to each other almost lovingly?
Two Strands of a Narrative Drawn Together
Listen carefully dear reader. Take a sip of your drumbuie and relax. Everything will soon be illuminated. But it will take a while… Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2013
(video link below)
Part of Harry Kopyto’s legacy includes his personal campaign for freedom of expression.
The public at large and lawyers in particular hesitated to criticize judges until Harry tweaked the nose of the judicial system in the late 1980s. With a few acerbic words reported in Toronto’s Globe & Mail, including a reference to the police and the courts being “stuck together with Krazy Glue”, all of that changed.
Kopyto was describing his 8-year unsuccessful struggle to seek accountability of the RCMP Security Service for admitted criminal acts as part of Operation Checkmate. For his colourful choice of words, he was banned from all courts and ordered to apologize by a Superior Court Judge. With a legion of lawyers backing him, including luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, Amnesty International and the Civil Liberties Association, Kopyto appealed his conviction and won. The law was declared unconstitutional in a landmark Charter of Rights decision defending freedom of expression made by five Judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Decades later, the abolition of the law is still celebrated by legal scholars, newspaper columnists and free speech advocates.
Originally aired on CBC’s Fifth Estate in 1987, this 17 minute feature on Harry’s battle for freedom of expression was recently posted online by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA). It catches Harry in mid-flight after he was charged but before his final victory. Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2013
(see video links below)
As reported earlier, Harry Kopyto was selected by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA – www.ocla.ca) to receive their inaugural human rights and civil liberties award. The award was bestowed on Harry on November 8, 2013 before an enthusiastic audience of close to 100 persons.
In accepting the award, Harry spoke at some length about his efforts to champion the rights of the oppressed and disenfranchised, drawing on key cases from throughout his career. Read the rest of this entry »