The man who instigated a hearing into the financial filings of nine of the candidates who ran for Elliot Lake City Council last year looks at the outcome as a failure on his part.
Mike Thomas, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat last Oct. 22, filed complaints against nine of the other candidates in which he claimed they all contravened regulations of the Municipal Elections Act.
In a statement, Mr. Thomas referred to a seminar held at Elliot Lake City Hall last May 24 hosted by two members of the Wishart Law firm of Sault Ste. Marie dealing in part with updated campaign finance regulations for the 2018 election.
"The presenters that these changes and the consequences were a major departure from the previous Act and Regulations as observed in the 2014 campaign,” he said. "I was advised by the clerk's office and the election officer's office during the campaign that they had looked into it and what was happening was ok."
A three-person panel, chaired by Mary Lynn Duguay along with members Katie Scott and Pam Lortie, found Tuesday morning that even though many of those who were accused did contravene the Act, they did so inadvertently, not with any ill intent. Thus, the complaint did not rise to the level an audit. Mr. Thomas told ElliotLakeToday he agreed with the panel's findings, but says they don't go far enough and will likely mean nothing will change in time for the next municipal vote in 2022.
One of those named in Mr. Thomas' complaint, former City Councillor Tammy VanRoon, submitted a statement to the Elliot Lake Financial Compliance Committee. In it, she said, "It is evident that Mr Thomas’ application is not for a genuine concern of wrong doing or nefarious deeds on the part of any of the candidates."
"It is clear that the application intends to target only specific individuals, as those who are omitted from the complaint, despite having made the same or similar omissions and/or errors on their forms, have remained free from harassment and accusations in this application,” she continued.
VanRoon cited as an example, "The mayor fails to list a financial institution, fails to attribute market value to goods and services provided, and fails to include the value of his previous inventory as a part of his campaign expenses, as required, and clearly indicated on the form. A review of his forms indicates he has made errors in completing his form. An error is not a crime, nor does it indicate nefarious deeds." Ms. VanRoon.also called for Mr. Thomas to pay for an audit, should one have been authorized.
"It remains my belief that most of the candidates were acting in good faith, with incorrect assumptions about new regulations (introduced after 2014) and their impact on what they did and how it was to be reported,” Thomas concluded. "I also remain concerned that some candidates, who should have known better, or and have been in a position to choose either not to be bothered, or felt the new regulations weren't significant enough to apply to them."
Those accused of failing to follow the Municipal Elections Act in Mr. Thomas' complaint included Councillors Norman Mann, Chris Patrie and Sandy Finamore, along with candidates Tammy VanRoon, Luc Morrissette, Helen Lefebvre, James Pawson, Geraldine Robinson and Frederick Henwood.