Blacklock’s managing editor today named the Parliamentary Press Gallery in an Ontario Superior Court lawsuit. It follows the December 2 eviction of Tom Korski from the National Press Building, a Gallery first.
The lawsuit states the Gallery executive committed “breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and breach of the duty of honest performance.” It seeks $224,000 in damages, costs and “a declaration that the defendant breached the Gallery constitution.”
“The Gallery’s conduct is reprehensible and constitutes a breach of the duty of good faith and the duty of honest contractual performance,” wrote counsel Jessica Kuredjian of Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP of Toronto. The Press Gallery has not yet filed a statement of defence.
Documents to be submitted in Superior Court show over a six-month period the executive of the press association compiled a list of grievances from the same three of 313 members of the Gallery: Emilie Bergeron and Michel Saba of Canadian Press and freelancer Hélène Buzzetti, a former Gallery president.
Blacklock’s was denied permission to speak to complaints at a Board hearing and was twice denied permission to read written complaints discussed by competitors at closed-door meetings. Korski was locked out of his office for alleged “serious misconduct.” Counsel Kuredjian wrote Superior Court the allegations “do not meet the definition of ‘serious misconduct’” in the Gallery’s own bylaws.
“In particular the complaints as alleged did not involve any threatening of physical or psychological harm to any members of the Gallery or materially interfere with the ability of other Gallery members to perform work for which Gallery membership is required,” wrote Kuredjian. “To the contrary.”
Numerous reporters, photographers and editors worked alongside Korski “for years and in some instances over a decade without Korski’s conduct materially affecting their ability to perform work for which Gallery membership is required,” wrote Kuredjian.
Complaints were that Korski “was impolite,” “frightened a complainant for no particular reason” and “made a complainant nervous for no particular reason.” Records show other complaints were that Blacklock’s staff posted a tweet critical of Canadian Press committee coverage, listened to English-only audio feeds from the House of Commons, called Freelancer Buzzetti an “idiot,” once propped open a newsroom door during the pandemic and tore a piece of paper “in a theatrical gesture.”
Gallery President Guillaume St-Pierre of the Journal de Montréal was accompanied by an armed constable in serving the December 2 eviction notice. The eviction was approved following a closed, half-hour Board meeting on November 15 attended by President St-Pierre, John Tasker and Rachel Hanes of the CBC, Luigi Della Penta of Global News, Catherine Levesque of the National Post, Boris Proulx of Le Devoir and Mia Rabson of Canadian Press.