Conflict of Interest & Harassment in Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Gilcig – MAY 28, 2015

CORNWALL Ontario – This can be a very very odd town to not only cover news, but deal with how stories are covered.

Cornwall Housing threatens to evict seniors and tenants if they put in window air conditioners and we’re the only outlet to cover the story.  Not a peep out of The Freeholder, The Seaway News, and Bill Kingston.

CWL weather MAY 25 b

With three days this week with humidexes of over 30 degrees this is playing with people’s lives.

Monday night I served Mayor O’Shaughnessy and Councilors Elaine MacDonald and Carilyne Hebert with a Conflict of Interest complaint re their being on the Steering Committee of the Benson whatever they’re calling it now vanity project.

The steering committee is made up of about 30 politicians and far too rich folk who instead of kicking in the $50K for their fun and hijinks get their friends in high places to spend your tax dollars.   It’s essentially insider lobbying.  As one councilor noted it was done just after the budget process as well.

Of course when a project does come to fruition they take the credit even though they didn’t pay for the project, stick their names on it, and use the cache to help stay elected to their offices which they are for the most part paid handsomely.  A reasonable person just might consider that either a pecuniary benefit or the optics of one?

In justice the term “reasonable” is used a lot.   What would a reasonable person consider in a situation?    Speaking to a lot of reasonable people the thought that someone on a board coming to council asking for cash should recuse themselves.

Clearly it was on the mind of all three elected officials as they all spoke to it.  It’s ironic that the rookie of the bunch spoke clearly that she was in conflict and would recuse herself only to have the Greybeard talk her out of it; in other words give her legal advice.

Elaine MacDonald:

I wish to say that I also sit on the steering committee. That I not perceive or wish to declare a conflict because if it were conflict the price for sitting on a committee would be too high…

Ironically Mayor O’Shaughnessy chastised Councilor Brock Frost Monday night about not being there to give legal advice.

The entire event is captured on the city’s own video so there’s no he said, she said or speculation.  Just the facts and words spoken by the three elected officials that night.

Sadly it wasn’t until three days later that any media covered the elected officials being served just prior to the council meeting starting.  Can you imagine that happening in Ottawa?  Or Brockville even?

That means that at least two outlets hid the news from the public.    CFN, as is our policy with events involving myself give a window for other media to cover an issue first.  It’d be pretty unprofessional for us to scoop on issues, say related to TAG for instance where I’m on the Board of Directors for example.  It’s a courtesy to our competition and to being a professional.

Sadly the Freeholder ran a story quoting the Mayor but did not ask for comment from myself which is surprising as their editor is head of the CAJ and since his arrival coverage has improved.

The Municipal Act is a toothless tiger.  It’s very hard to enforce any sort of real rules on elected officials.    It’s expensive, and time consuming which is why so many purposefully game it.  The public should not have to file cases in Superior Court like this when whistle blowing or calling someone on their mess.

There is a Conflict of Interest Commissioner in Ontario and I’m sure if our elected officials had called on him for advice all three would have recused themselves.   Examples on the COI website are quite clear.

The action in court is not a financially punitive one.  I’m not seeking any financial gain although I would like to get our legal costs back eventually.  Honestly I’d like to see this council do the right thing on this issue and many others, but I, like many “reasonable” people in Cornwall are not holding our breaths.

Hebert & Elaine MacDonald with COI papers

(Councilors Hebert & Macdonald holding notices while McIntosh looks on)

We will be appealing for financial help for the legal costs of this case as we expect sadly the Mayor and Councilors involved to do the wrong thing IE using the legal system to drag this out as long as possible as they clutch to their seats of power.  It’s the insanity of politics and justice,  sort of like pulling funding to zero for a public art gallery and then giving $30K extra this year to fund study with a consultant on the viability of an Art Centre which were championed by MacDonald and Hebert.

More irony in that both Elaine and Carilyne who championed giving money to another consultant were Presidents of TAG Cornwall.    But that’s for another story.

As for Harassment, Monday night was my first night covering council since Brock Frost made his false allegations about me coming to council to “Beat him up” and other strange ramblings he brought to police and a JP.   He also issued a press release as a City Councilor stating he’d destroy this newspaper.    The city has a very clear harassment policy which I’ve filed two complaints with via email without the city responding a single time.   That’s very disturbing; almost as disturbing as Mr. Frost’s actions themselves.   Is the policy only for those that City Hall may support or like?  Is it muted if they have an issue with a party?   That’s a very slippery slope.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.






  1. Admin is there not an established protocol and timeline for the city to respond to a taxpayers concern. I know first hand that certain councilors are negligent in dealing one on one with taxpayers concerns. Perhaps it is time to push back and stand up to the bullying and avoidance tactics that have been so effectively used by a group of small minded arrogant buffoons.

  2. Author

    David that’s what I’m trying to do here and hopefully enough of the public will support it.

  3. Cornwall Housing 1 – Tenants 0 (or whatever the score is now). Landlords are famous for doing what is not exactly 100% legal or ethical. Telling tenants in an apartment building that they can’t install AC units is cruel, as many of them are seniors Tenants always lose. If tenants fight landlords the landlords will find one way or another to evict you.

    Hopefully with this city council will get the hint that conflict of interest will not and should not be tolerated.

    I hope I’m reading / interpreting this wrong “Ironically Mayor O’Shaughnessy chastised Councilor Brock Frost Monday night about not being there to give legal advice.” When did Brock Frost become qualified to give legal advice? As for it taking three days for a media outlet to cover the story I guess they don’t see it as a story worth covering. I don’t agree.

  4. Author

    Hugger to clarify Brock was asking the mayor a question. Les stated that it was a legal question and the Frost essentially re asked the question.

  5. Thanks for clarifying that. If it was what I saw it seemed like a totally irrelevant question by Mr. Frost. A moment of reflection. Seriously! !!

  6. Author

    Hugger I think he also tried to second a motion before it had been brought to the table as well.

  7. These people obviously are not acting in the city’s best interests. They are working on their own personal agendas. Actions speak louder than words and I am completely shocked that any of these people can sleep at night. Bogus charges, webs of lies, cover ups, conflicts of interest, seriously, how are these people not ashamed of themselves??? Why is no one holding them accountable yet??? All the evidence is in plain sight. Such a joke. A true blemish to Canadian politics, Ontario and Canada.

    Ask yourself this, when was the last time you felt the city did something for you, without an ulterior motive? I was taught that politicians were the ones who wanted to use their energy and intelligence for the unbiased good of the people, as a whole, like a doctor or fire fighter or a police officer, doing it out of the goodness of their heart, knowing that they will make a positive difference in the world.
    Now it seems only shady people with agendas take office and make decisions and sell these “great” ideas that in the end shames us all.

    It’s like some of these people have never left a 10 mile radius of their home in years and have deluded themselves into thinking that they are doing a great job. Or maybe they are zombies.

    Zombies have no emotion, right? They only care about other zombies, but they’ll kill one if they feel it necessary…
    Yuppers, sounds like our local council is made up of zombies…

  8. Author

    Garden Girl I think the problem is more the people than the politicians. Until that changes we’ll have more of the same. Most of this council ran to cut taxes. Taxes went up in the first year without a whisper of an apology.

  9. Garden Girl you are a very good person and a good heart and innocent about a lot of things. Politicians are there for themselves and you have to open your eyes really wide to see the corruption, lies and dirty underhanded deals that they all make. Leslie has a very corrupted bunch on his council and as many as what BOB had and BOB him self was mighty corrupted and don’t forget he served as MP here in Ottawa where corruption prevails on the hill. The same thing with Lauzon (I have so many laughs about Lauzon and will never forget the time that he sent a family member a bereavement of a relative and that person was alive) LOL LOL. ROLF! The whole entire political system is one huge fiasco of a mess that even Ontario is pretty well bankrupt. Nurses and teachers went and voted for this Winnie the poo back in office and she is as corrupted as can be and taking Ontario down with her – not much brains from those who elected her back in the cat bird seat to take us all down.

  10. The people can only vote in the elections. Afterwards it is very hard to hold politicians accountable. Politicians always have an excuse / reason for whatever they do. And when politicians lie about their intentions not much can be done until the next elections. Yes, in reality it is the “peoples” fault. But with voter apathy at an all-time high what can you do?

  11. Jamie I brought up about the Cornwall Housing refusing AC’s to my husband just this morning and it was the first time that I mentioned it and he said that there has to be a reason for doing this and that maybe something happened that they are not wanting to talk about. I never brought up about my opinion and he came to the same conclusion that I did which is very rare kind of like Hugger and myself at each other’s throats and this is the truth. LOL LOL. I think that there is a lot more to this than what we know. The freeloader and the other rag are under control and they won’t report any truths and the only truth comes from your paper.

Leave a Reply