CFN – Fay Brunning commented about the odd statement that was in the agenda for Monday’s Council meeting in Cornwall Ontario.
We covered the statement here.
Mayor Kilger’s statement was in consent. No public debate has been recorded nor whether any of the councilors had opinions of dissent on the subject.
It is this scribblers understanding that any of the council members can take the consent item into open discussion Monday night. The question is will any of them?
That’s something the public is watching also.
MAYOR reads into the record (of the In-Camera Meeting only)
”There was an In-Camera meeting of Council last week on February 19, 2013, regarding personnel matters. I did not attend that meeting because I wanted to obtain independent legal advice as to whether or not I was in a conflict of interest. If I was in a conflict of interest situation with respect to the matters discussed at that meeting, the Municipal Conflict of interest Act states that, because I was absent at last week’s meeting, I must declare that conflict at today’s meeting.
On this question, I sought and have received independent legal advice form the national law firm of Blake, Cassels and Graydon. The advice I have received is that I am not, and have not been, in a conflict of interest situation with respect to the matters discussed at last week’s in-camera meeting.
Accordingly, I do not have a conflict of interest declaration to make at this meeting.
While I accept my lawyers advice that there is no conflict of interest, I do not intend to participate in Council’s consideration of these matters because I would like Council to deal with these matters with as few complications as possible.”
Here is Ms Brunning’s reply to CFN’s request for comment.
In my client’s view, the proposed retroactive amendment to the Minutes clearly confirms that the application of the MCIA to the Mayor was the subject of the discussions of closed Council on February 19th and 25th. There is also an admission that some parts of the meeting should have been in held in open session. Amending the Minutes, to pretend something that happened in closed session, supposedly happened in open session, does not make it so. Determination of the Mayor’s conflict, according to this amendment, should have been conducted in open session and it still should be conducted in public in a transparent and accountable fashion (i.e. a vote).
The positions of remaining members of Council itself are not recorded in this retroactive amendment.
As reflected in the court decisions pertaining to Mayor Ford, each municipal councillor must understand and abide by MCIA. Only electors can enforce it. In the fact situation of Mayor Ford, everything in question was transparent and open for inspection by the electors. In this situation in Cornwall, the electors have not been told what is contained in the whistleblower complaint given to each Council member on May 31, 2012 that puts the Mayor’s participation in question, nor the amount of public funds at stake.
Council must decide for the electors, because the whistleblower complaint is being kept confidential and handled behind closed doors.
Is the Mayor in a conflict under the MCIA? Each elected member of Council should act only for the public, without regard to the personal interests of the Mayor. Council speaks through a vote by each member. Council must deal with this matter in open session, in the absence of the Mayor, and vote in open session on this substantive issue (the rights of electors under MCIA). There must be transparency so members can be held accountable to the public and/or the Court thereafter.
Members of Council cannot delegate their decision to decide on behalf of electors, not even to the lawyers for the City. Each member of Council is not supposed to be influenced by the Mayor (or his lawyer) under MCIA.
QUESTION TO BE PUT TO COUNCIL IN OPEN SESSION (excluding the Mayor): would an ordinary elector in Cornwall believe the Mayor is in a conflict of interest under the provisions of the MCIA, if the elector could read the contents of the whistleblower complaint given to Council on May 31, 2012 and if the elector was advised as to the amount of public money at issue?
Yes or No.
If yes, the conflict of the Mayor must be recorded in the Minutes of Council.
Well CFN viewers what are you thoughts? Do you think Mayor Kilger is in conflict? You can post your comments below. Will you be at Council Monday night and the protest before at 6:30?