Radio society loses Supreme Court case

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PARRSBORO – The Parrsboro Radio Society’s roster is a little bit larger this week, but probably none the happier.

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled last Monday applicants Sarah Hartman,  George Spence and Saundra Spence are members of the society and entitled to review the society’s minutes and financial statements. Co-applicant Carrie Goodwin was a member in good standing with the radio society, but denied access to the records because it was felt she would not keep keep the documents in confidence. This comes a year after three of the four were expelled from the society during a special meeting.

“We are very happy with the Supreme Court's ruling since we have been illegally denied participation in our community radio station for over a year,” said Sarah Hartman, who represented the applicants in the matter. “It is sad that so much money was wasted on lawyers simply because Don Jewers' group refused several opportunities to meet with us to work out our differences amongst ourselves.”

Jewers, chair of the Parrsboro Radio Society, didn’t say how much the society’s legal fees were and didn’t have an estimate on the applicants’ legal costs, which the court ruled the society will have to pay, but quelled fears the costs would be the ruin of the station. One source placed the society’s legal fees between $15,000 and $20,000, a significant amount for the radio station that relies on a call-in radio Bingo show as its primary source of income.

“We have made arrangements with our lawyer to work it off in time,” Jewers said.

By the end of the case, the society dismissed its lawyer and member Alexander Lich concluded the radio society’s legal representation.

In his oral decision, Justice Robert Wright concluded the applicants were still members of the radio society. The hitch was the way a special meeting in January 2012 to expel some of the society’s members was handled. The expelled party was not formally informed of the meeting, thus denying them the opportunity to defend themselves, Wright determined.

“There was a technicality they had to be notified before being dismissed,” Jewers summarized.

The court case hinged on how the radio station advertised the meeting and posted notices around town.

While it’s evident both groups have yet to bury the hatchet, with the court case behind them, both parties appear open to moving forward.

“It’s possible to rebuild that relationship. You never say no. But they want [station manager Ross] Robinson out of it,” Jewers alleged. “But he’s the technical person. He’s the only one who knows how to operate it… [reconciling] could happen, I suppose. It would take a third party to mediate it. To the point, it would certainly be helpful.”

(Parrsboro Community Radio operates out of station manager’s Ross Robinson’s home).

“We hope that things can move forward on a much more positive note, with all members working together for the good of community radio in Parrsboro,” Hartman said.

And if reconciliation isn’t a possibility, there’s always the society’s annual general meeting, where members will vote who they want as the think-tank behind the community radio station.

That meeting is expected to happen soon.

Organizations: Supreme Court, Parrsboro Radio Society, Parrsboro Community Radio

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Nova Scotia

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