Jeff Melanson, the former CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, has responded to allegations made by his estranged wife, Eleanor McCain, in their acrimonious court feud – portraying her as a vindictive ex, a mean-spirited stepmother and a self-funded, amateur musician contemptuous of those less wealthy than she is.
Earlier this year, Ms. McCain, a daughter of the food magnate Wallace McCain, asked the Ontario Superior Court to nullify her marriage to Mr. Melanson, alleging he tricked her into a wedding after he faced harassment allegations and administrative problems while he led the Banff Centre.
In his own court filing, Mr. Melanson calls Ms. McCain's request for annulment "replete with irrelevant and inflammatory assertions."
He said his March 30 resignation from the TSO stemmed from her "distorted and untruthful allegations" and the ensuing media coverage.
Mr. Melanson has retained Harold Niman, a family lawyer with a history of litigating against the McCain family, including in Ms. McCain's previous divorce.
"Sadly, Eleanor is a vengeful, angry person with extreme wealth and incredible amounts of rage," Mr. Melanson said in his respondent's answer to Ms. McCain's annulment application.
The court filing says Ms. McCain's "mean-spirited and vindictive actions" against Mr. Melanson's children, one of them in particular, ultimately led to the breakdown of their marriage.
Mr. Melanson alleged that Ms. McCain inexplicably took an intense dislike to one of his three children.
He said she banned that child from attending their wedding, from being pictured along with the rest of the family on a Christmas card, and from a trip to the McCain family compound in Jamaica.
Mr. Melanson's court document also said Ms. McCain used her fortune to prop up her singing career.
The document said she made a donation to a fundraising gala on the condition that organizers use the cash to buy her albums to give away at the function.
The filing also alleged she donated to orchestras on the condition that they hire her for a professional engagement.
"Eleanor does not have an artistic career, but rather buys opportunities for herself," the Melanson court document said.
Mr. Melanson denied several of the allegations Ms. McCain had made in relation to his previous job at the Banff Centre, including that he put his first wife on the payroll of the Banff Centre, that he visited the Ashley Madison cheating website using an IP address belonging to the centre, and that he fired a woman who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
He said he did not leave Banff for the TSO in 2014 because of allegations at the centre but to be closer to his children from his previous marriage.
He added that he did not break up with Ms. McCain via "a self-serving email" in January, 2015, as she had stated, and that their union ended after a couples therapy session.
Mr. Melanson alleges Ms. McCain hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on him.
Furthermore, she sent "bullying" letters to TSO board members and threatened to "take down the entire TSO if she had to," the latest filing states.
"It is unfortunate that Eleanor has chosen to target Jeff and the TSO in such a vengeful, smear campaign," the document says. "Jeff remains hopeful that Eleanor's actions will not harm the TSO's future."
Mr. Melanson also made several references in the court filing disparaging Ms. McCain's comfortable lifestyle.
After her assistant quit, he said Ms. McCain "was overwhelmed by having only two full-time staff at her home."
He also brought up a dispute between her and residents of Hacketts Cove, N.S., over access to a public beach through a trail on her summer property.
"Eleanor abhorred the locals generally, and was disgusted that the local 'low lifes,' as she would describe them, could use 'her' beach," Mr. Melanson said in his court filing.
His lawyer, Mr. Niman, represented one of Ms. McCain's previous husbands, Greg David, after they separated in 2004.
He later was counsel for Christine McCain when she divorced Ms. McCain's brother Michael.
It was revealed during that divorce trial that Michael and Eleanor's father, Wallace, told his children they had to enter marriage contracts with their spouses to protect the family assets.
In the current litigation, Mr. Melanson said he and Ms. McCain signed a marriage contract two days before their April 26, 2014, wedding.
When asked for comment, Ms. McCain denied that the request for annulment was about hurting Mr. Melanson's reputation or being vindictive. "This is about our marriage, not Jeff's career," she wrote in an e-mail.
She also insisted that Mr. Melanson ended the marriage "unilaterally," by e-mail and that she had "a very positive relationship" with his children.
She denied making derogatory comments about people in her summer home in Nova Scotia.
As for Mr. Melanson's characterization of her career, she responded: "I am a professional singer."