Mayor Chris Patrie, who is facing removal from office after Ontario Superior Court Justice Annalisa Rasaiah ruled he contravened conflict of interest guidelines as a city councillor, is now not making any public statements about the case.
Patrie said Tuesday he was instructed by his legal counsel not to speak with the media on what his next move is to deal with the ruling and subsequent order to remove him from office.
He spoke openly with ElliotLakeToday Monday evening, saying he was devastated by the ruling.
Late Monday, Justice Rasaiah released her decision in Elliot Lake (Integrity Commissioner) v. Patrie. The justice determined that Mayor Patrie had breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and that his actions warranted his immediate removal from council and his disqualification from holding public office for two years.
The judge’s decision is posted here.
The case concerned a series of events in 2019 when Patrie was then a councillor. The city’s integrity commissioner made an application to the court for a finding that Patrie had contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The case was argued in mid-August 2021, but the decision remained outstanding until Monday.
After its release, Patrie said he received the ruling at about 5:30 p.m. and decided not to attend that evening’s council meeting, leaving deputy mayor Andrew Wannan to chair it.
Patrie has a right to appeal and has indicated he will seek a stay of the decision (an order from the court to suspend his immediate removal from office pending a hearing and decision on the appeal to overturn the ruling).
Acting Mayor Andrew Wannan, council and administration are committed to ensuring that the business of the city will continue to move forward without disruption during this interim period. Wannan made that known at the council meeting.
“There is no immediate need for the City to fill the vacancy created by the judge’s decision,” said CAO Daniel Gagnon. “The removal took effect immediately [Monday evening] and is in effect for the foreseeable future. Mr. Patrie is hoping for another judge to award a stay of the decision that would enable him to return to his mayoral seat while he appeals, which is why we aren’t yet in a major rush to fill the seat. But until the stay or the appeal happens, we proceed with a vacant mayor seat and a six-member council.”
“The Municipal Act, 2001 requires that when a council vacancy arises, the remaining sitting councillors have two options within 60 days of declaring the seat vacant at a regular Council meeting,” Gagnon said of the process to fill a vacant council seat. “Council can hold a by-election or appoint a qualified elector to council. If they chose appointment, it can decide upon the proper course and is not required to appoint from the list of candidates from the past election.”
“If and when council deliberates or has new information, the public and local/regional media will be informed. The public is welcome to reach out to the Acting Mayor Wannan, Council members and city administration with any questions,” Gagnon added.