In a surprise turn of events, minutes before Huntsville councillors were set to discuss a motion that would ask the Province to dismiss the MAHC Board and its CEO, Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison received a letter from a solicitor representing MAHC accusing him of defamation and of making false and misleading statements.
The Mayor was presented with the ‘cease and desist’ letter about 15 minutes before the start of council. Doppler has obtained a copy of the letter, which asks the Mayor to withdraw the motion scheduled to be tabled that evening, that he immediately “cease and desist from publishing any further defamatory statements, including postings, statements or other communications about MAHC, its CEO or other members of the senior leadership and refrain from making defamatory comments about MAHC, its CEO or the senior leadership team verbally, including in public venues and meetings,” and that he “publicly apologize to MAHC, MAHC Board of Directors, Ms. Bubela and other members of the senior leadership team, as well as the community.”
The Mayor said he was not surprised by the letter. “I was not terribly surprised that this is a tactic that they took. I was thrilled because if I’m going to win in the court of public opinion, having them sue me is better than anything I could’ve expected. I thought the best thing that could happen is for them to come and try to discredit me and try to make me look bad when all I’m doing is standing up for the citizens of this community who are feeling very frustrated by them and their process. So if they want to sue me for that, I say bring it on.”
Asked if he would apologize to the Board and senior staff at MAHC as the letter requested, the mayor said: “Not unless a judge orders me to.”
In conversation with Doppler immediately after the meeting on Monday, the Mayor said the motion will not be taken off the table but will simply be put on hold. “If we meet with them and continue to be dissatisfied with what we’re hearing then council can discuss that same motion, or a variation of that, at the next council meeting,” he said.
As for the threat of a lawsuit, “I think at the end of the day it’ll backfire on them,” he concluded.
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