By Charlie Gillis - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Remember that lawsuit Brian Burke dropped on foolhardy commenters who helped spread the nasty rumour that he had an affair with a TV anchor and fathered her child? Okay.
Now, do you remember the doubly foolhardy blogger who admitted that he didn’t take down the offending material when asked, and didn’t see what “the big deal” was? Yeah, that guy. A journalism student, if you can feature it.
Well, here’s what happens when you start publishing rumours about people’s personal lives without first running “Canadian libel law” through Google:
I am new to the world of journalism and mistakes occur when people are new to something. Everyone is fallible, and I now understand that I made a mistake by posting a rumour online.
Hopefully, Brian Burke and Hazel Mae will read this and understand how I feel, and what my intentions were. I want to sincerely apologize to them for any personal or professional damages my actions may have caused them.
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Burke is thought to have struck a blow for accountability on the web with his defamation suit against 18 internet commenters, who last January spread rumours suggesting the erstwhile Toronto Maple Leafs general manager had an affair with sports TV anchor Hazel Mae.
“This will be a very public reminder to people that you can get sued for what you publish on the Internet,” libel lawyer Rider Gilliland told the Toronto Star in a typical response.
But is nabbing pseudonymous trolls the slam-dunk some analysts suggest?
Not by a long shot, says Michelle Awad, a Nova Scotia lawyer who fought a similar case, and has argued issues of Internet anonymity before the Supreme Court of Canada. While it’s true that case law empowers plaintiffs to unmask commenter who post libelous material, she says, the practical hurdles are considerable.
For starters, many web messages originate from IP addresses that host multiple users, such as cafés with unsecured wireless. “Once you have your court order,” Awad explains, “you go to the Internet service provider and ask for the customer information that goes with a particular IP address. But if it’s wireless Internet in a hotel lobby, you’re not going to get very far.”
Information held by the website where the comments are posted can be no more helpful, she adds. “Sometimes they log and say ‘I’m the Easter Bunny at Gmail.’ The site’s automatic registration system doesn’t recognize that’s probably not real.” At that point, says Awad, the plaintiff might take his court order to the webmail host—Google, say, or Yahoo—and seek user information from them. But there again, people can set up pseudonymous accounts from IP addresses that host many users.
So from a legal point of view, the web remains an untamed and unfriendly environment.
The better question arising from Burke’s suit: why does it name commenters but not websites or media companies? Sites, after all, are typically easy to trace to a specific IP address, and the offending statements in this case landed on some well-read ones. Moreover, those linked to major media agencies have deeper pockets, which means a successful plaintiff has the prospect of winning significant financial damages. The messages that so angered Burke appeared on, among other sites, Hockeyinsideout.com, a Montreal Canadiens-themed site run by the Gazette newspaper and owned by the Postmedia newspaper chain; and a popular blog called Canuckscorner.com.
At least one clue lies in a statement Burke’s lawyer, Peter Gall, issued Friday saying his client will seek damages from “everyone who has failed to take down these lies” when Burke first asked them to. According to Awad, the case law on a website operator’s responsibility is far from settled, but the courts look more kindly on sites that take responsibility for what they publish—who make a reasonable effort given the reach of their websites and their resources. Editors with Hockeyinsideout, for example, closely monitor comments, encouraging readers to alert them to potentially defamatory material and taking it down when they decide it crosses the line (a message from a commenter identified as ‘Ncognito’, who is named in Burke’s suit, is no longer on the site).
But others seem keen to play with fire. As the Star noted Saturday, one of the defendants named in the suit, THEzbrad, is linked to a blog where the comments appeared, and where an anonymously posted message this weekend dismissed the suit as “ridiculous.” “Burke obviously did not appreciate these few comments,” the post added, “but the fact that he is going to attempt to sue online commentators is pretty hilarious.”
That’s admirably nonchalant. But here’s some free advice to THEzbrad: take some time out from laughing and get yourself a lawyer.
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 5:17 PM - 0 Comments
GM’s off-ice bluster and bombast never translated into success for the Leafs
It’s been a carnival ride, this Brian Burke era: noisy, colourful, stomach-churning and ultimately unequal to the hype.
When he blew into town on a gale of rhetoric four years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs GM promised to restore the lost grandeur of the NHL’s richest franchise. The team would be fast, he said; it would be “truculent.” The Stanley Cup awaited, and the media, more so perhaps than the fans, were pumped.
Instead, the Leafs limped through three losing seasons, missed the playoffs for their seventh straight year and became one of the league’s least intimidating clubs. Today, as NHL governors gathered to vote on a new collective bargaining agreement with the players, the new owners of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment announced they were cutting the cord, replacing Burke with his more buttoned-down assistant, Dave Nonis.
So ends the tenure of one of the most entertaining figures in NHL management–a white-headed throwback to hockey’s bygone era who seemed built to endure one of the game’s great crucibles.
Tom Anselmi, the president of MLSE, was reluctant today to get into the reasons for Burke’s firing–beyond the self-evident ones. “You’ve got new owners who just bought into a company,” he said in reference to the Bell and Rogers partnership that completed its purchase of the team last summer. “They were evaluating people and the hockey club and that evaluation included how the team was doing, how it finished up last season.”
But there were suggestions today that Rogers and Bell executives were unimpressed by Burke’s bluster. And one cannot discount the effect of sorrow. In February 2010, Burke’s son Brendan was killed in a car accident; the GM was candid about how deeply he was affected by the loss (Anselmi, for the record, said the dismissal “had nothing to do with Brian’s personal life”).
Still, Burke’s record of misjudgment in Toronto is surprising, considering his deep roots in the game and his previous success as an executive with the Vancouver Canucks, the Anaheim Ducks and league offices.
To help explain why, in Anselmi’s words, the relationship between Burke and his corporate masters “wasn’t going to work,” we compiled a brief list of his blunders and misdemeanours during his time with the Leafs. None alone is enough to get a GM fired. But each is cringeworthy, and together they have delivered the Leafs to their current state.
The Phil Kessel deal: The speedy winger Burke acquired from Boston in Sept. 2009 is a bona fide scoring star, but Kessel is anything but truculent, and the price was too high. With the picks they got in return, Boston drafted forward Tyler Seguin, a more complete player than Kessel, and Dougie Hamilton, one of the best junior-aged defencemen in the game.
Mike Komisarek: Burke signed the hulking defenceman to a whopping five-year, $22.5-million contract just as his game went into decline. Injuries followed, and this summer Komisarek will be a prime candidate for a so-called “amnesty buyout,” where teams are permitted to pay out a player in order to gain room under the league’s salary cap.
Free-agent lethargy: Not once but twice during his term with the Leafs Burke was away from the office on July 1, the day teams compete for the season’s crop of unrestricted free agents. Hard to know whether his presence would have helped the Leafs land a star like, say, Brad Richards. And in both cases, Burke was supporting worthy causes. Still, to Leaf fans, the optics weren’t great.
Goaltending woes: J.S. Giguere couldn’t rediscover his old magic. Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson was monstrously bad. James Reimer suffered head injuries. In four years, Burke never quite found the right man to play the game’s most important position.
Roberto Luongo: Burke saw the enigmatic star from St. Leonard, Que. as a potential solution to the Leafs’ goalie grief, but the time to get him was last summer. Luongo is in the third year of a 12-year contract, which was designed to get around the league’s old salary cap system. Now under complex provisions of the new CBA, the Leafs would take a serious cap hit if they traded for Luongo and he failed to play out the entire contract. He’ll be 43 when it expires.
Ron Wilson: Loyalty’s a virtue, but Burke left his former college roommate in place long after it became clear Wilson wouldn’t succeed. So long, in fact, that the fans were chanting “Fire Wilson!” as the Leafs floundered last season—a humiliation Burke then used as cover to let the coach go, saying keeping him in place would “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The credit side of Burke’s ledger is not empty, of course. Kessel may yet have his day, and James Van Riemsdyk, a rangy, talented winger acquired from Philadelphia, seems good return for Luke Schenn, the player Burke dealt to get him. Nazim Kadri, one of the Leafs’ top prospects, is excelling this season in the American Hockey League.
Burke was also a fine ambassador for the team in the city, donating time and money generously and standing tall for the causes in which he believes.
But good will doesn’t show in the NHL standings, and Anselmi has acknowledged that this move was months in the planning, that a change in leadership and direction was in order. If that’s true, it seems odd they’d opt for Nonis, who has a history with the current GM in Vancouver and Toronto, and who had a hand in running the team during its last four dismal seasons.
But Nonis is different. More withheld. More corporate. And not named Brian Burke. Until the Leafs go on their first losing streak, those are all things that will work in his favour.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 2:25 PM - 0 Comments
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
Parade gathers politicians, leadership hopefuls and Mulcair Bears
Politicians were out for Toronto’s annual gay pride parade.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Politicians with bad hips…
At Toronto’s 31st annual Pride Parade it was all about
Politicians with bad hips
At Toronto’s 31st annual Pride Parade it was all about party leaders in rickshaws. Green Leader Elizabeth May rode in one as she has in every parade since having a hip replaced in 2007. This time, NDP Leader Jack Layton, who still walks with a cane after hip surgery, was pulled in one covered in rainbow flags. His team was prepared for all the people who insist on spraying politicians with huge water guns—a nightmare for anyone with a BlackBerry. At one point Layton’s wife, MP Olivia Chow, took a water cannon shot in the back to protect him. Chow then opened a rainbow umbrella to deflect further H20 assaults from Layton’s left flank; a volunteer opened a huge orange umbrella to protect him on the right. May is waiting to have surgery on her other hip and says after that she will be able to walk in the Pride Parade. The Liberal MP presence was diminished this year. Interim leader Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett were the only two elected Grit MPs. Rob Oliphant, who was defeated in the last election, was also in attendance. Rae’s wife, Arlene Perly Rae, demonstrated powerful arm strength as she tossed bead necklaces into the crowd. One shot accidentally hit a photographer and she quickly went over and apologized.
‘Screw the cottage’
There was much anger and campy commentary over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s snub of all Pride festivities. (Ford said he always goes to his cottage for Canada Day weekend and would not be attending Pride.) Former Toronto mayors were well represented. David Miller and Barbara Hall marched and Mel Lastman sent a letter that was read at the Metropolitan Community Church service before the parade began. Ford mockers were out in force. One man dressed as Ford held a sign saying “Screw the cottage.” Many wore Ford masks. “More people wore them on their ass than their face, which sums it up,” noted Fab magazine associate editor Drew Rowsome.
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10:08 PM - 19 Comments
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green…
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green volunteer Michael Wall.
NDP leader Jack Layton and his MP wife Olivia Chow.
(Left to right) Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, Liberal leader Bob Rae and former Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, March 22, 2010 at 7:52 AM - 12 Comments
I’ve been remiss in posting here, having made the error of devoting the last few days to activities that don’t lend themselves well to blogging. When not watching basketball, I’ve been working on my fantasy baseball league’s upcoming draft. Last year, I caught bad breaks (that means “made bad choices”) in a tough division, pulled the plug early, and gave up a very high draft pick, Brian Burke-style, as part of a package for elite talent. That means my 2010 draft isn’t going to be much fun, any more than the Leafs’ will. But the Leaf fans get to cheer for Phil Kessel in the meantime, and this baseball season I’ll get to cheer for Albert Pujols, the imperishable Aztec god of hitting.
This is my compensation for suffering the eternal insults all fantasy players share: 1) the league is rigged against me, 2) the scoring system and the rules are self-evidently irrational (since, 2a, I win every single trade I make and still manage to finish around .450 every season), and 3) the guys whose teams keep pounding on mine every year are obviously—since we cannot contemplate the possibility that they are smarter than me—outrageously fortunate dorks with tons of free time and, no doubt, all kinds of illicitly obtained inside information and strategic intelligence. (Needless to say, those who finish behind me are just garden-variety dumdums.)
The women who snicker at fantasy baseball, which is to say all women, would guffaw outright if they knew how much work was really involved. Even if you keep up with the baseball news as a matter of course throughout the offseason, and even if you invest in some gnostic projection system, or in pre-fab cheat sheets off the magazine rack, you still have to calibrate everything to your own league’s scoring methods and put in a certain number of root-canal hours of due diligence in the runup to the draft. Has anybody signed Gary Sheffield yet? (Not yet, though he says he has offers.) Why the hell isn’t Khalil Greene on anybody’s depth chart? (He had a nervous breakdown and his contract was voided when he failed to turn up for training camp.) What’s the Opening Day lineup for the Mets gonna look like? (A vast, soft, silent yellow turd in the sun.)
If you don’t do this work, you run the risk of drafting Nomar Garciaparra in the 20th round and inviting unsurvivable derision from other males. The fact that would no doubt seem especially pathological to women, if any man were foolhardy enough to mention it in public, is that there are no commensurate ego benefits to be derived from success. Unless you play for real money, and we don’t, fantasy baseball is a bet you can only lose. When Lawyer A fleeces Engineer B in a trade, nobody really says, “Well, good job, A, you must have been at the top of your advocacy game that day.” Inevitably, A is despised for an unearned windfall, and B simply loathed. And when C wins the league, it is chalked up to chance and borderline-unethical practice, and his downfall is contemplated with merciless primal glee.
If you invite exactly the right people into your league, all of this hostility and petulance can be accompanied by nitpicking over regulations, power struggles, and whining about technical problems. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. The last time somebody invented a hobby like this, they called it golf.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 7:45 PM - 19 Comments
A mere 58 minutes. That’s it. That’s all.
We were promised an hour, perhaps as much as an hour and a half. And yet here was Michaëlle Jean, solemnly invoking “Divine Providence” at precisely 3:47pm this afternoon, just about 58 minutes after she welcomed “honourable senators, members of the House of Commons, ladies and gentlemen.”
Some 6,000 words passed in between, each delivered in that breathy, deliberate way of the Governor General’s. But this was not quite the excruciating test of endurance for speaker and listener alike, not nearly the epic we were told to expect. Once more we are faced with a government full of ambition and promise, unable to ultimately deliver. Once again we see the danger of unrestrained hope. Continue…
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 3:45 PM - 7 Comments
Well, well, well, it didn’t take long for all the hockey pundits to start…
Well, well, well, it didn’t take long for all the hockey pundits to start brewing up theories about Brian Burke’s future in the NHL after he was released by the Anaheim Ducks yesterday afternoon. From what I hear an emergency meeting was arranged between Steve Simmons, Al Strachan and Darren Dreger–founders of the Truth, Rumour and My Dog Told Me Club–where they sat down at an unassuming Swiss Chalet on the fringe of Toronto and discussed how the media will spin the story. Apparently Strachan put gravy on his fries and ordered a second Rootbeer, which Dreger interpreted as a clear indication that Burke is bound for Boston. But all joking aside, Anaheim’s decision to release Burke because he wouldn’t sign a long-term extension with the club is a giant smoke signal that something is up. He is too smart to shy away from a rosy position in Anaheim without something waiting in the wings. So where is he going to end up? Well, we’ll let you the reader decide instead of feeding you rumours on this one.
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 2:37 PM - 2 Comments
The Anaheim Ducks have “fired” Brian Burke as GM. Or they couldn’t agree on…
The Anaheim Ducks have “fired” Brian Burke as GM. Or they couldn’t agree on a contract extension with him. Or something. What a shock!
Weren’t the Ducks one of the putative powerhouses of the West, bolstered by the presence of last-minute signee Teemu Selanne and the timely salary dump of Mathieu Schneider? That’s, like, good managing right? Weren’t they 6-3-0-1 in their last 10? Weren’t they the team that won the Stanley Cup season ‘for last, looking well nigh invincible in the process? Weren’t they the team with whom Burke claimed he was oh-so-eager to negotiate a new contract?
If you didn’t know better, you’d almost think there was some other team in the picture … some dastardly, deep-pocketed franchise that for some reason views Burke as the solution to its persistent mediocrity.
We emphasize the “for some reason” part.
By Steve Maich - Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 6:08 PM - 0 Comments
Al Strachan has written what will henceforth be known as “The Definitive Hatchet Job…
Al Strachan has written what will henceforth be known as “The Definitive Hatchet Job on Brian Burke.”
Ol’ Al doesn’t think Ol’ Brian is such a hot general manager and he dredges up a few of Burkie’s less-stellar moment as GM of the Canucks. He also makes the totally legitimate point that Burke gets a lot of credit for an anaheim cup winner that was largely built by his predecessor.
I went back and took a closer look at Burke’s major trades with the Canucks and it’s true, on the big splashy ones, he was only fair-to-middling at best. Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Friday, July 11, 2008 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
La première étoile:… Kash Beauchamp. The manager of the minor-league Wichita Wingnuts lost his
La première étoile: Kash Beauchamp. The manager of the minor-league Wichita Wingnuts lost his mind—and his shoes—while arguing with the ump over a checked-swing call the other night (he’s trying to emphasize that the call “stinks,” in case you’re wondering). The clip is a classic on its own, but you wanna know the best part? Shoeless Kash Beauchamp was drafted first overall in 1982 by the Toronto Blue Jays, ahead of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. Nice choice, fellas. Talk about a stinker. Was JP Ricciardi still the GM back then?
Two minutes for…saying you’ll shut up, but not shutting up. To Brian Burke, the GM of the Anaheim Ducks. Days after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ordered an end to the year-long war of words between Burke and Edmonton Oilers boss Kevin Lowe, Burke issued a statement that essentially boils down to this: OK, I’m going to stop all this bickering, but not until I say all this nasty stuff first.
Who’s got tickets? Don’t worry, you won’t need a ticket to see this: Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, July 7, 2008 at 4:31 PM - 0 Comments
This is either an amazing put-on, or one of the best pissing matches in…
This is either an amazing put-on, or one of the best pissing matches in NHL history. Brian Burke, the man the Toronto media tirelessly inform us will be the Leafs’ next general manager, just can’t let go of his grudge for Kevin Lowe. So the Edmonton Oilers GM used a recent radio interview to answer crap with crap. The 12-month war between the two execs—Burke still being the nominal GM of the Anaheim Ducks—goes on.
Now Gary Bettman, the NHL’s tiny, imperfect commissioner, has stepped in an attempt to end the unseemly battle. In the spirit of a good linesman, we say leave ‘em, Gary. This is more entertaining than a lot of NHL games (not least those mid-week snoozers out of the southeast).
A bit of background: Continue…
By Steve Maich - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
The Toronto media is, thus far, giving the thumbs-up to the Leafs new coach…
The Toronto media is, thus far, giving the thumbs-up to the Leafs new coach Ron Wilson. That, in itself, is no surprise. The Leafs always hire good coaches, or at least, coaches that seem competent and well-qualified until they get behind the bench. Paul Maurice, Pat Quinn, Pat Burns – all came with pretty strong professional credentials, and so does Wilson. I will spare you the obligatory skepticism – I’ll refrain from mentioning that he’s never won a cup, and that the San Jose Sharks massively underperformed under his leadership the past two seasons. Fair to say that Wilson is a good hockey guy, is respected around the league, and should have no problem establishing authority in the dressing room.
The bigger concern remains that lack of a GM. Continue…