An angry, homophobic email sent by a man running for mayor in the City of North Vancouver has prompted one of his opponents to question his suitability for elected office.
Kerry Morris, however, says his words five years ago came at a time of extreme business stress. Now, he tells Xtra, “I will forever be regretful.”
As part of civil legal proceedings, Morris sent an email in August 2009 to lawyer Bill Perrett, where he referred to a case participant in clearly homophobic language.
“Bill, to the extent that you are able, and bearing in mind that I would never tell that misserable (sic) little prick what a perm-headed fagot (sic) I truly believe him to be, tell him to fuck himself in the most polite terms you can find,” Morris wrote in the email, which was entered as a court exhibit. “You might remind him that since he embarked on my character assassination at trial last week, I feel little inclination to soften the blow to the gay little pud-knockers feelings and more like telling him the way all I know see him to be.”
“My actions will be consistent with GOD in December 2007,” he continues, before wrapping up the email with, “Ah hell with it, tell him to go fuck himself. I can’t think of anyone else who would do the job.”
In a ruling in the civil case, BC Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield remarked on Morris’s emails. “Many of the emails Mr Morris addressed or copied to Mr McEwen were intemperate. Others, which I have not reproduced, were simply rude and should not be excused,” Pitfield said in his ruling.
Fellow mayoral candidate George Pringle, in an Oct 25 post to his campaign website, alleges that Kerry wrote the angry email after he blew up during his cross-examination by opposing counsel. “He sent an email to his lawyer and copied it to the opposing lawyer, who Kerry Morris had made the presumption of being gay,” Pringle says.
“Kerry Morris wrote comments to this officer of the court which most people in the 21st century would call hate speech which to this day are still in the court registry,” Pringle writes. “It was obvious to me that he should not be allowed to hide this from the voters who he is asking for their trust and vote.”
Morris was quick to respond to the allegations of homophobia in an Oct 25 news release of his own. He apologized for his language, saying the email “contains words and phrases that were highly inappropriate.” He tells Xtra he sent the email at a time when he was in a difficult business situation in which he lost many personal assets.
He says that Pringle’s team was handing out information about the email at a recent electoral debate and that it didn’t seem to faze voters. “They were not impressed with the game of mudslinging,” he says, then adds, “I should not have used the language. It was inappropriate.”
Pringle maintains that voters need to know about Morris’s email.
“Since so many expressed your support for the candidacy of Kerry Morris for the Mayor of North Van, I think you should be fully aware of what and who you have supported,” he says in an email addressed to his fellow candidates. “Verbal gay-bashing and bullying is not acceptable in our business, political or private life.” Morris’s email “is not made up,” Pringle notes. “It’s in the court registry.”
As for Morris’s accusation of mudslinging, Pringle throws it back. He alleges that Morris had already been maligning other candidates in publications such as the Georgia Straight. Morris commented on Twitter Sept 11 about a council candidate’s Facebook posts, including one photo that showed the candidate aiming a gun, then questioned the candidate’s connection to the incumbent mayor.
“Kerry is just getting a bit of his own medicine,” Pringle tells Xtra.
Morris maintains that Pringle’s willingness to engage in mudslinging is not a mayoral trait. “The people of North Vancouver have never stooped to this degree in any election and are not stooping in this one,” he says.
In his Oct 25 press release, Morris suggests that somebody worked hard to dig up his 2009 email. It “would have taken a skilled researcher months to find, unless told precisely where to look by a knowledgeable party; something akin to finding a needle in a haystack,” he writes.
“That said, there can be no excuse for the words or phrases I employed, no matter the millions of dollars that were at stake in the action,” he reiterates in his press release. “I remain ever sorry for my indiscretion.”
Morris’s behavior was also called into question in another court case. On July 14, 2008, he was acquitted of a drunk driving charge, though North Vancouver provincial court Judge Jane Auxier found he refused to comply with a police request for a breath sample. Auxier found in the case that Morris was “belligerent, antagonistic and argumentative.”