Does the Municipal Act of Ontario Need Teeth & Conflict of Interest in Cornwall Ontario?

Bob Kilger May 16 2011 SMILECFN-People tend to sometimes mix up what they feel is right or moral and how lawyers and politicians deal with the law.   The law of course has its own jargon and in its mystical ways can metaphorically prove that elephants can indeed speak Spanish and fly.

Cornwall Ontario is not the only community to suffer from abuse of the spirit and words of the municipal act and of course even after being sanctioned last years abuses still occur.

rob-fordConflict of interest is a doozy. It’s what brought Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto down, at least for now.   Here in Cornwall recently I actually observed a city councilor invoke it at the meeting for the Gerry Benson University project.  Kudos to Councilor Murphy who  got it and actually wants a future in politics.

Steering CommitteeHowever our Mayor Kilger & Councilor Elaine MacDonald, even though they were on the steering committee coming hat in hand to ask the council that Mayor Kilger heads and she sits on  for money, did not recuse themselves.  There even was a joke made about the Mayor being plied with wine when “LOBBYING” him for his support of the project.   Could you imagine a few people walking in off the street and asking the City for $55K for a feasibility project without a business plan or any details?  And to get such a positive reaction?

That means that they should declare conflict and step away from the table.  Technically outside of the room.  They technically not only are supposed to not decide on such a decision, but not INFLUENCE the outcome.

Now the hook to conflict is even if one of the other councilors had the moxie to stand up and say, “WHOA!  You can’t do that!”   they could not.   It’s 100% up to the individual to declare their conflict.

Recently at the budget meetings Alyssa Blais presented for the Agape centre.  While trying to extort council that if they didn’t kick in $60K to her mismanaged mess she’d cut the Children’s Snow Suit fund (yet another reason why should be let go) Councilor MacDonald jumped into the fray and helped explain for the verbally challenged Ms Blais.   Ms MacDonald even shared, while stumping for Agape, that she’s on their board!

So a group that a councilor is the board of is in the fray asking council for cash.  Jump to the 3:22 mark to hear Ms Macdonald and to the 4:52 mark where she clearly states that she’s on the board of the agency asking for CASH.

Again, asking for cash, lobbying for money, tax payer money.   Does that make any sense to you dear viewers of CFN?

Yet according to the municipal act this sort of thing may be fair dinkum?

Cornwall also seems to have an in camera before each council meeting.    We call them “rehearsals”.     Recently the Fort Erie Mayor, Doug Martin was so frustrated with abuse during these sessions that he has called upon the province to send in someone to observe any in camera meetings.    LINK

Could this have been a factor why Councilor Leslie O’Shaughnessy resigned?

“In my opinion, there have been serious breaches of ethical and moral issues that confound my integrity and there are things going on behind closed doors that are just not right,” said Martin, a politician for almost 30 years.

And does this sound familiar?

Martin feels council has used going into closed session for other purposes.

‘The MMAH Act and procedures were never intended to provide sanctuary to politicians from public scrutiny and accountability,” he said.

Martin said that since the current council was sworn in after the October 2010 election, there has been an “eroded” respect for the Municipal Act.

“There are too many things not right in closed door sessions with my council and none of us are serving the better good of the constituents of Fort Erie until this gets cleaned up,” said Martin.

Does the municipal act need more teeth or does it need to be enforced more in places like  right here in Cornwall?  Should the new CAO  or other Councilors hold the Mayor, Ms MacDonald or any councilor that fouls the waters like this on their behavior?



  1. Thank You for standing up to an unjust & immoral council,Mayor kilger has done worse for Cornwall than the smell of Domtar ever did. Council members who are on the up & up get frustrated & give up to these brown nosers. Grant is the one who surprizes me the most for not showing integrity that use to just ooz from him.I am now ashamed ! Andre is the only one on council that gets it Kudos to you Mr Rivet for showing such integrity & risking being black balled by Mayor & his goons.Maybe we can still clean up Cornwall as Jamie is trying to do with his 100 letter campayne of why do you love Cornwall.Here is hoping that Mayor & Council are on board with these efforts,after all ,it could well be Cornwall,s swan song!

  2. Do individuals who freely associate in organizations such as municipal councils engage in “Conflict of Interest” rules according to their own standards? Individuals are free to engage in economic activities for personal gain. It is why people get “jobs” to earn a living. Yes, Elaine MacDonald engaged in activities to persuade one of her associations to provide benefits to another one of her associations. That is the benefit of economic freedom. Why was it a “Conflict of Interest”?

    Wikipedia: “A widely used definition is: “A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”[1] Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favors for family and friends, but conflict of interest rules usually focus on financial relationships because they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable.”

    How is Ms MacDonald personally benefiting from her council decisions?

    But realistically, individuals always pursue their own self interest even when acting on behalf of the interest of others. When a mom takes care of her child’s interest, she is actually taking care of her own interest. Let me offer an experience. Read the following extract and replace the word “state” with “person”.

    “Realism is a tradition of international theory centered upon four propositions.[2]

    1. The international system is anarchic
    There is no actor above states capable of regulating their interactions; states must arrive at relations with other states on their own, rather than it being dictated to them by some higher controlling entity.
    The international system exists in a state of constant antagonism (see international anarchy).

    2. States are the most important actors.

    3. All states within the system are unitary, rational actors
    States tend to pursue self-interest.
    Groups strive to attain as many resources as possible (see relative gain).

    4. The primary concern of all states is survival.
    States build up military to survive, which may lead to a security dilemma

    In summary, realists think that humankind is not inherently benevolent but rather self-centered and competitive. This perspective, which is shared by theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, views human nature as egocentric (not necessarily selfish) and conflictual unless there exist conditions under which humans may coexist. This view contrasts with the approach of liberalism to international relations.
    Realists believe that Sovereign states are the principal actors in the international system, and special attention is afforded to large powers as they have the most influence on the international stage. International institutions, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, individuals and other sub-state or trans-state actors are viewed as having little independent influence. States are inherently aggressive (offensive realism) and/or obsessed with security (defensive realism), and that territorial expansion is only constrained by opposing power(s). This aggressive build-up, however, leads to a security dilemma whereby increasing one’s security may bring along even greater instability as an opposing power builds up its own arms in response (an arms race). Thus, security becomes a zero-sum game where only relative gains can be made.

    Realists believe that there are no universal principles with which all states may guide their actions. Instead, a state must always be aware of the actions of the states around it and must use a pragmatic approach to resolve problems as they arise.”


  3. ^Thomas Hobbes^ that’s funny, Son. Now go clean up in Aisle 6! I agree with admin that we need a good man like Rob Ford running this joint to break up the unions and bash some leftist thinking heads and shake up this invitation-only circle jerk of a city.

  4. Author

    um Wow! I did not suggest we need Rob Ford. I’m not sure Conservatives think we need Rob Ford…

  5. Darcy Neal = Regarding Conflict of Interest as you apparently see it to be .I have a much shorter and perhaps better understood definition as follows :

    An apparent conflict of Interest is determined by the perception of a ” reasonable person”
    ( a hypothetical member of the public ) who is reasonably well informed .

    Such a person is to have a ” reasonable perception ” that a Conflict of Interest exists even if the Conflict
    of Interest is not a major one .

    Whether a Conflict of Interest is apparent or potential or real the consequences are the same .
    The Conflict must be remedied .

    A Conflict of Interest incorporates a concept of foreseeable future .

  6. The mayor of Windsor is up on it too.
    A complaint has been filed.

  7. Four of our six councilors are appearing in court on May 22, 2013 to answer to conflict of interest complaint filed against them for firing the town lawyer after she filed a harassment complaint against them. This complaint was not investigated. They (the four) immediately suggested that she be fired and by a four to three vote they order the acting CAO to follow their direction. They then voted to pay her close to a quarter of a million dollars to not proceed with a wrongful dismissal against the town and personal law suits against the four councilors that she filed a complaint against. $50,000 was paid for the tort settlement to not sue them personally. They (the four) then voted 4 -3 to not release the information to the public or the amount of the settlement after the lawyer said she had no objection to any and all information being released. This is a true abuse of the “Closed door meetings” The municipal act needs to have a way other than a private citizen filing complaints and law suit at their expense. All level of governments need to be accountable and transparent when it comes to spending tax payers money.

  8. I agree Lesley. What has happened in Fort Erie is by far the most severe example of direct conflict of interest. They used towns funds to make a harassment claim and employee go away. Fort Erie Citizens have stepped up and taken this one to court. Only after trying everything else to hold these guys accountable. But it shouldn’t be this way. MA is useless and serves no purpose if they can’t or won’t act on these complaints./

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