Odd couple: AllNovaScotia & John Morgan

What’s up with AllNovaScotia’s curious blind spot for Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor John Morgan?

Like many others, AllNS’s editorialists took umbrage when the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society charged lawyer Morgan with professional misconduct for accusing Supreme Justice John Murphy, and Nova Scotia judges in general, of political bias in the performance of their duties. An AllNS editorial argued that it was dangerous and wrong to muzzle political speech by a politician who also happens to be a lawyer. So far, so reasonable.

The odd thing is that the usually reliable news service seems to be letting its editorial passion slop over into its news columns. AllNS news stories have persistently misrepresented the comments that got Morgan in trouble. Instead of quoting or characterizing Morgan’s original words, AllNS quotes only the sanitized version Morgan came up with after he got in hot water.

The background is here, but in short, Morgan pretends he merely said Nova Scotia judges were not tree-shakers; in reality, he went on for paragraphs alleging political bias by the judge who first rejected his grandstanding constitutional claim for higher equalization payments — a lawsuit that was ultimately rejected by every judge who reviewed it, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada.

After reading several of these inaccurate stories, Contrarian took the unusual step of writing a letter to AllNovaScotia’s comment section correcting the record. The news service did not publish it.

True to form, in its Feb. 11 bulletin announcing a disciplinary panel’s acquittal of the mayor on grounds that his unprofessional comments were made in his capacity as politician, not lawyer, AllNS reported only that Morgan had “said, among other comments, that judges in Nova Scotia were not ‘tree shakers.'”

But it’s the omitted “other comments” that got Morgan in trouble, for alleging political bias.

Only in a follow-up story in Friday’s edition did AllNS fleetingly acknowledge Morgan’s “comment that Justice John Morgan ‘had ties to the Conservative Party.'”

For the record, Contrarian agrees with the disciplinary panel decision: Morgan’s unprofessional, offensive comments were made in his capacity as politician, not in the practice of law. Contrarian also believe news media should detail the actual charges against a defendant, not the defendant’s self-serving bowdlerization.