Libel News: Angie Filoso v. The Petfinder redux

Ottawa Petfinder readers were subjected to a puzzling braunnose in the moribund daily’s letters page August 25:

“In response to the article by Ottawa Citizen [sic] columnist Joanne Chianello on October 26, 2014, Angelo Filoso is a leader in the Italian-Canadian community. He is known as a tireless volunteer.”

The arlikhan epistle, by one Dave Smith, retired deputy chief, Ottawa Fire Service, went on to extol the many attainments and fine qualities of the Great Italian CanadianTM: “Community Builder Award recipient…instrumental in the creation of the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial…Executive Editor of Il Postino…Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal…whaddaguy, whaddaguy.

What the Filoso can it all mean? A hint is contained in the final line of Smith’s seemingly random hagiography: “Angelo Filoso is no longer putting on the Canada Day Festival at Andrew Hayden Park,” and that opening reference to Chianello’s ten-month-old story, over which Big Angie had, readers will recall, sued the Petfinder.

At issue, a single paragraph Chianello wrote during last fall’s municipal election election, when Filoso managed the campaign of River Ward also-ran Antonio Gianetti, largely by keeping him out of sight and acting as his spokesman/svengali:

“Filoso is known around city hall, not least because his Canada Day festivals at Andrew Haydon park in 2009 and 2010 resulted in a diesel fuel spill, potentially dangerous electrical hookups, and unauthorized helicopter rides. The city even sued Filoso, although the matter was settled out of court.”

This had Filoso on the blower to stickman legalist Lawrence Greenspon, a crony from the charity circuit, to demand an apology, and when that failed, pursue satisfaction for this monstrous libel in small claims court.

Filoso’s statement of claim, after an exhaustive recitation of his many honours and good works (uncannily similar in substance to Smith’s hagiography-to-the-editor) argued:

“Mr. Filoso was not sued personally. He was sued in his capacity as the Director of the Italian-Canadian Centre which helped organize the event….There was no suit against Mr. Filoso in relation to the helicopter rides…The lawsuit launched by the City in relation to the 2009 festival (“the City of Ottawa claim” settled out of court without any admission of liability on the part of Mr. Filoso.”

Alas, the Andrew Haydon Park festival of fuckery and its aftermath were amply covered by the Petfinder, CBC and other media, and exhaustive defence filings by legalist Rick “Rick” Dearden of Gowlings included not only the press clippings, but the Ottawa auditor general’s report on the debacle — and the city’s $57,000 statement of claim against Filoso, et. al.

All of which by way of supporting the contention that every word written by Chianello (since promoted to city editrix) had been accurate, fair comment, in the public interest, untainted by malice, harrumph and/or fap.

In submissions ahead of a July 9 settlement conference, Dearden wrote: “The Defendants offer to consent to the dismissal of this action without costs.” (Translation: Fuck off before this starts getting expensive.)

The July pow-wow produced no resolution, but a second session scheduled for Aug. 27 was abruptly cancelled as both parties consented to, er, dismissal without costs on Aug. 24 — the day before Smith’s shine-job coincidentally appeared in the Petfinder.

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