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Integrity Commissioner costs now more than $274,000

Two cases are progressing with separate and distinct timelines understandable given the cases are quite different, says commissioner
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In a report headed to next Monday's scheduled Elliot Lake virtual City Council meeting, the city's CAO, Daniel Gagnon, wrote that in 2019 and so far in 2020, the city has spent some $274,000 on those services. The spending continues.

In a separate report to Council, Integrity Commissioner Tony Fleming, of the Kingston law firm, Cunningham Swan, noted that of the 13 complaints received, to date, two are still ongoing. The costs include the two court cases that continue against Councillors Chris Patrie and Ed Pearce.

"COVID-19 has delayed or slowed court proceedings, but both cases are progressing with separate and distinct timelines understandable given the cases are quite different," Fleming said. "As part of the amended Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) put in place by the province, the city must pay for the legal costs to pursue the two sitting councillors. The legal firm of Cassels Brock is pursuing MCIA charges, and that accounts for the size of their legal bills."

The 2019 fees were:

  • Cunningham Swan $9,718
  • Wishart Law $25,574 
  • E4M $153,585
  • Cassels Brock $6,364 
  • Robert Swayze $1,768 
  • Aird Berlis LLP $10,730 

For a 2019 total of $214,741.

The 2020 fees to date are:

  • Aird Berlis $7,727 
  • Cassels Brock $136,650 
  • Cunningham Swan $15,512.

The total for 2020 is now $159,890. The total to date for both years is $274,631.73

Elliot Lake CAO Daniel Gagnon wrote, "It is difficult to forecast costs for IC use. The administration is simply managing the budget for legal / IC fees as variances at year-end. Under the current circumstances this will likely continue, but can be reviewed for the 2021 municipal budget."

"At that time it would be appropriate to review a more detailed budget estimate using trends from 2017 through 2020," Gagnon said in his report to council.

Fleming was appointed the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Elliott Lake, last year, the second of the city's Integrity Commissioners, in 2019.

He succeeded E4M of Sault Ste. Marie in that role.

"The purpose of this report is to highlight the mandate of the Integrity Commissioner, and to inform council and the public about changes to the Act that affect the process of the Integrity Commissioner," said Fleming in his report to council. "The Integrity Commissioner is responsible for the application of the Code of Conduct for members of council and the Code of Conduct for members of local boards to the application of any procedures, rules and policies."

Also, with the application of sections of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA), the IC handles requests from members of council and members of local boards for advice respecting their obligations under the Elliot Lake Municipal Code of Conduct.

The IC also provides advice respecting obligations under procedural rules or policies of the municipality, or of the local board. 

In addition, the IC also deals with requests from members of council and/ or local boards for advice respecting their obligations under the MCIA, and the provision of educational information to members of council and members of local boards.

"We encourage members of council and local boards for the city of Elliott Lake to contact us in writing, should they find themselves unsure of their obligations under the Code or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act," Fleming wrote.

In total, of the 13 complaints submitted to the Integrity Commissioner for the city in 2019 and early 2020, two were withdrawn by the complainant. Two are still in various stages of review. Six were closed after the preliminary review, as no breach was found.

In addition, three were closed without undertaking a preliminary review as the complainants refused to respond to requests for information. 


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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