By Mike Williscraft
Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan was cleared of 19 allegations on Monday made in an Integrity Commissioner complaint.
The complaint, filed by Councillors Kevin Ritchie, John Dunstall and Randy Vaine was summarily dismissed by IC Michael Maynard.
The allegations included everything from conflict of interest infractions to failure to recuse himself from a meeting, to voting on an item in an instance when he should not have.
The heart of the issue goes back to an incident and another IC complaint when it was found Jordan breached the Code of Conduct by revealing information to a third party from an in-camera meeting – which was deemed “trivial and without consequence” by then-IC Charles Harnick.
The trio who filed this claim, along with Coun. Dave Sharpe and Coun. Dave Kadwell was displeased with that finding to the point where they voted to dismiss Harnick as IC soon after, with Harnick being replaced by Maynard.
This 19 claim complaint represents the third such complaint filed regarding what was originally a $1,300 expense generated when Jordan made a call to one of the Town’s lawyers in an attempt to track how his personal emails got in the hands of Ritchie.
Ritchie has refused to divulge the source of the emails.
In his findings, Maynard noted much of the claim was “out of time” meaning the complaint was issued after the allowable window of time permitted to raise an issue in a timely manner.
Maynard also noted that other items were matters of opinion, not Code of Conduct breaches and other matters were put to him without any level of support, rather incidents were raised with an expectation the IC would prove their case with regard to one complaint under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Quoting the legislation, Maynard noted, “An application shall set out the reasons for believing that the member has contravened section 5, 5.1 or 5.2 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and include a statutory declaration attesting to the fact that the applicant became aware of the contravention not more than six weeks before the date of the application.”
“No Application conforming to the above requirements was placed before me by the Complainants,” stated Maynard in his report.
Generally, Maynard reported his job is to investigate complaints made on time and with proper information.
“However, an allegation in a complaint lacking sufficient grounds or evidence, or an allegation first raised or articulated long after a complaint / application is filed (and particularly beyond the limitation period), is, in my view, an improperly filed allegation. It is therefore not a matter at issue and consequently not something for me to investigate,” wrote Maynard.
“It is not enough for a complainant to list voluminous Code sections and/or submit ambiguous or unsubstantiated claims in the expectation that the Integrity Commissioner will pick through them and find something that sticks.”
“To put it another way, the Integrity Commissioner should not be asked to find the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ on behalf of a complainant, let alone be asked to first locate the farm and decide which haystack might contain the needle.”
COSTS TO THE TOWN
With two IC complaints generating three reports and formal legal opinion costs already accumulated, Coun. Reg Freake tables a motion to ask for a report on all IC filings from 2019-2021.
Ritchie raised Point of Order saying other IC costs were not relevant and Freake’s motion should be altered to a request for costs on only the complaint before council since other costs were not “relevant”.
Freake pointed out the IC report noted some avenues would not be pursued due to consideration of cost to the taxpayers.
“I would like for these reports, which we continue to have, to be documented. I would like to see the costs. I would like for the town to know how much money we’re spending on these types of frivolous, silly complaints,” said Freake.
To get an idea of some costs, Freake agreed to adjust him motion to solely request a cost breakdown on the current complaint.