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Dec. 6, 2019 | Friday
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Editorial: Mr. Melling’s attitude is concerning
Toronto lawyer Michael Melling asked media to leave before addressing stragglers leftover from a meeting during which local activist group Save Our Rand Estate was granted party status. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

At the beginning of last week’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing regarding SORE obtaining party status in ongoing litigation, Two Sisters Resorts Corp. lawyer Michael Melling approached the local media in attendance. He said he would not be offering any comments to reporters.

Regardless of Melling’s worry about his own words being published, not commenting was completely within his rights, and arguably could have saved us all time.

But then, during the public meeting, while the chair was confirming a date for a continuation, Melling advised the crowd he would be addressing them after things wrapped up with a few words from himself and his client.

This is where Melling went wrong — he somehow got the notion that he could force the media out of the room. After he told the audience he would speak later, I asked him if he would be telling the crowd the same thing he told the media about having no comment.

He replied that he would be asking the media to leave, and when I responded that wasn’t going to happen, he proceeded to say he would have media removed.

Needless to say, no matter the pedestal Melling puts himself on, the Toronto lawyer does not have that authority.

Before he addressed the crowd he once again approached the reporters on scene and asked them to leave.

All refused, so he said he wouldn’t be speaking and that he would make the reason known to the audience. The crowd had mixed reactions, but in the end no journalists left.

Good on our local media for standing their ground.

It doesn’t matter who you are — some hotshot lawyer or not — there is a set of reasonable standards when it comes to withholding information from the media and ultimately the public. Journalists covering a public gathering on a matter of major public interest were within their rights to be there.

The idea that Melling did not want his words reported is concerning.

Mr. Melling, you are welcome to come to Niagara-on-the-Lake to plead your clients’ case anytime, but the NOTL media will not be pushed around by your demanding attitude.

editor@niagaranow.com

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