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With mayor removed, council vows to continue city business (updated)

Integrity commissioner calls judge's ruling against Patrie an important precedent relating to improper actions meant to influence councils
Chris Patrie
Council will move on with city business after a judge removed Chris Patrie as mayor over

10:05 p.m. update:

Elliot Lake council, after more than two hours of closed discussion, has deemed the mayor’s seat officially vacant but did not discuss how it would fill the vacancy.

The decision was made at a special meeting this evening unanimously by the six-member council after a closed-session discussion with their lawyer.

“Council declares the seat as head of council vacant as of Jan. 12,” a portion of the approved motion read.

The decision paves the way for council to fill the mayor’s chair given by either a mayoral byelection or appointment.

The full text of the motion follows.

Whereas  Section 262 (1) of the Municipal Act states "If the office of a member of a council becomes vacant under section 259, the council shall at its next meeting declare the office to be vacant"

Therefore be it resolved that council declares the seat of head of council vacant as of Thursday, January 12, 2023, pursuant to the decision of Justice Rasiah.

Original story 9:01 p.m.

Despite the court-ordered removal of Chris Patrie from the mayor's office, Elliot Lake councillors are determined to press on with city business.

That desire was expressed at a special council meeting tonight when acting mayor Andrew Wannan said information on the Ontario Superior Court Justice Annalisa Rasaiah’s conflict of interest ruling against Patrie and contained on the city website was “legally sound and accurate.”

“We are faced with a highly unusual situation, and we will navigate these uncharted waters one day at a time,” he said. “We will continue to provide updates through public statements on the website and in the meantime, I can assure you that as a council we will continue to work to the best of our ability moving forward.”

Meanwhile, E4M, the company that acts as the city's integrity commissioner, released a statement earlier today applauding the ruling against Patrie, calling it an "important judicial precedent on matters related to inappropriate council behaviour and improper actions to influence decisions before them."

"This provides guidance to both councillors and integrity commissioners going forward,” said Peggy Young-Lovelace, president and chair for E4m, in the release. “This is another precedent setting case, sadly, at the cost of the City of Elliot Lake taxpayers.”

In a lengthy decision released Monday night, Ontario Superior Court Justice Annalisa Rasaiah concluded that Patrie breached sections 5(1) and (2) of the Act by lobbying fellow councillors to build a $30-million planned sports hub next to a plaza owned by a corporation controlled by he and his wife.

The case concerned a series of events in 2018 and 19 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.

In a public presentation tonight, resident Stephen Calverley expressed his views on how council should consider proceeding in dealing with the mayor’s removal.

Calverley has several emails and mail with legal officials at the provincial level about the case and the lengthy court deliberations dealing with the conflict of interest allegations against Patrie, which he began in early November of 2022. He presented copies of that correspondence to council members at Thursday’s meeting.

He had publically urged a quick ruling on the case to have it made public prior to the October municipal election. That did not happen as Justice Rasaiah was granted an extension based on the 2,000 pieces of evidence she dealt with.

“I believe, given the situation, the best that could be done by our municipal government is if the court does not grant a stay … a byelection for mayor (would be necessary)."

Patrie is seeking a stay of the ruling which removes him from office for two years and from serving any public office for two years.

The judge’s decision is posted to the city's website.



About the Author: Kris Svela

Kris Svela has worked in community newspapers for the past 36 years covering politics, human interest, courts, municipal councils, and the wide range of other topics of community interest
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