After three swings IC tosses out complaints on conflict of interest

By Mike Williscraft

Grimsby’s Integrity Commissioner (IC) tossed out two complaints and a third was withdrawn at Monday’s council meeting regarding a suggested conflict of interest with Coun. Reg Freake.

In his presentation to council, investigator for ADR Chambers, the IC office for the Town, Michael Maynard noted the three complaints were to be included in one report due to the similarity of the claims made and rapid succession with which they were filed.

One of the complainants was Coun. John Dunstall, following a pattern of council-to-council IC complaints, which has made up the vast majority of cases to date.

The contention in the complaints was that Freake was in a conflict of interest by voting on a proposed Main Street East heritage study when it came to a committee of the whole meeting.

The findings of the IC were definitive.

“It is concluded (that) Councillor Freake did not violate either the Code of the Conduct or the MCIA (Municipal Conflict of Interest Act) as alleged by the Complainants,” reads the report.

“As there have been no findings of a contravention of any kind on the part of the Respondent Councillor, the Integrity Commissioner makes no recommendations.”

This marked the first time Charles Harnick did not present IC findings to council. After the last presentation he made, council went into closed session and rose to approve a motion to have the town clerk speak with him about ongoing concerns.

Despite a different presenter, Coun. Randy Vaine – just as with Harnick’s decision regarding Mayor Jeff Jordan’s infraction of a phone call after private emails were illegally obtained – was not happy with the findings.

Vaine, who repeatedly notes that he defers to experts when it comes to how he decides his support, questioned Maynard at length about not only his credentials, but how he investigated the matter and how he drew his conclusions.

“I’m not sure how you got there. I just don’t get it,” said Vaine, after noting he asked other people who told him it was a conflict situation.

Maynard started his defence to Vaine by stating he was “acting on behalf of the Integrity Commissioner” and he is an IC himself, just “not for the Town of Grimsby”.

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