Two Niagara Regional Councillors – Brian Heit & Kelly Edgar – Sued As Controversies Continue To Swirl Around NPCA

Welland MPP Cindy Forster and her “Supervisor” – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath – Served with ‘Letter of Warning’

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted January 24th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag now.

St. Catharines regional councilor Brian Heit, now facing a lawsuit related to NPCA issues

St. Catharines regional councilor Brian Heit, now facing a lawsuit related to NPCA issues

Niagara At Large learned weeks ago from sources  that Brian Heit and Kelly Edgar – two regional councillors representing the Niagara municipality of St. Catharines – were being served with a lawsuit by a person named Bill Montgomery, who runs a Niagara-on-the-Lake marketing business.

But the information NAL received about the legal action was a bit sketchy at the time and, when contacted by this journalist, Heit and Edgar both said they had received legal advice not to make any comments for the record.

Not wanting to post anything that might do unwarranted damage to two public figures I have long had a good deal of respect for around their record of public service, I decided to temporarily set the matter aside while awaiting further information.

St. Catharines regional councilor Kelly Edgar, also now faces a lawsuit related to NPCA issues

St. Catharines regional councilor Kelly Edgar, also now faces a lawsuit related to NPCA issues

I did so knowing that the day might come when members of the mainstream media caught wind of the legal action and published a story. And this Tuesday, January 24th, that happened with a front-page story in a St. Catharines area newspaper, The Standard, featuring a headline that reads – ‘NPC lawsuits piling up’ which, if you haven’t already, you can read by clicking on a link below.

The Standard story reports that Montgomery has launched a slander and defamation lawuit, not only against Heit and Edgar, but against Ed Smith, a St. Catharines resident and retired Canadian Forces officer who is already facing a $200,000 defamation lawsuit filed against him by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and its former CAO (now CAO for Niagara’s regional government) Carmen D’Angelo.

The lawsuit revolves around a report that was circulated to members of  regional last October – just prior to council voting on a motion to hire Carmen D’Angelo to the Region’s CAO position – and that raised questions and concerns about the NPCA’s operations, including its hiring and firing practices, awarding of contracts and other matters involving the spending of public money.

Montgomery’s legal action charges that Heit, Edgar and Smith committed slander and libel against him and his marketing firms, including Cornerstone Sponsorship Management and Value Media Corp., and he is suiting for a total of $3.5 million.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster and her "supervisor," Ontario NPD Leader Andrea Horwath,, are issued a "letter of warning," which sometimes leads to further legal action.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster and her “supervisor,” Ontario NPD Leader Andrea Horwath,, are issued a “letter of warning,” which sometimes leads to further legal action.

A separate lawsuit filed against the NPCA and its charitable foundation for breach of contract, intentional interference with business and defamation, Montgomery received a settlement in the case that has not been disclosed.

More recently, Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster, who last fall followed up Smith in calling for a forensic audit and full audit of NPCA’s operations, including any costs it may have accumulated due to legal actions involving other parties, received a “letter of caution” from Montgomery and her “supervisor,” Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, charging that she supports the same report containing “vicious, libel of me personally and professionally” that is the subject of the legal action against Heit, Edgar and Smith.

All of this legal action is underway in the backdrop of calls by numerous citizens in the region and the councils of several municipalities, including St. Catharines, Port Colborne, Welland, Pelham, Thorold and Niagara-on-the-Lake in the Niagara region, and the neighbouring City of Hamilton for a thorough, independent investigation and audit of the NPCA – calls that the NPCA’s board of directors finally said “yes” to this past January 18th, with individuals from Niagara Region, Hamilton and Haldimand (all falling within the watershed the NPCA has jurisdiction over) yet to be appointed to select a third-party auditor.

Niagara At Large will continue to post news and commentary on all of this and other issues related to the governance of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and its operations in the days and weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, here is a link to The Standard’s January 24th story about the lawuitshttp://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/01/23/npca-report-lawsuits-piling-up .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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6 responses to “Two Niagara Regional Councillors – Brian Heit & Kelly Edgar – Sued As Controversies Continue To Swirl Around NPCA

  1. Does anybody know whether Bill Montgomery/Value Media went ahead with litigation with the St. Catharines Downtown Association regarding Buskerfest in 2014? http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/07/22/buskerfest-a-no-go-in-st-catharines-this-summer
    Or how successful Buskerfest was in Thorold in that same year? http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/07/27/buskerfest-finds-new-home-in-thorold

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  2. Wynne and her cronies must take responsibility for all this ‘crap’ taking place. No matter how she tries to separate the government from the NPCA, the NPCA is a creation of the government therefore accountable to the government. By taking the position that the government cannot interfere with the work of the NPCA, Wynne is causing Ontario taxpayers’ money to be divested from practical use to useless lawsuits. Perhaps this is her inetention – give money to the lawyers!

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  3. In my OPINION it’s about time the PROVINCIAL LIBERAL GOVERNMENT of ONTARIO gets off their fat asses and stop the BULL SHIT that is happening to the Citizens and Certain Regional Councilors in the Niagara Region. THIS HAS GONE TOO DAMN FAR…when Citizens and the certain Councilors do not have a right to question Elected Councilors without incurring a threat of LEGAL CONSEQUENCES and lawsuits……QUITE A DEMOCRACY WE LIVE IN ….WYNNE

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    • I’m getting rather tired of the way Niagara residents insist that it’s always somebody else’s fault. Niagara Regional councillors are elected by residents of Niagara. The close ties between regional government and the NPCA board are nothing new. Too many of us care about democracy only when our own rights have been infringed. How much actual participation in local democratic processes to we do at other times? How many of us even vote in municipal elections? This regional government is a reflection of this region and how power operates within it, and we now see that it’s not a pretty picture. Well, to a considerable extent we have allowed regional government to assume that power — not deliberately, but by not paying enough attention. And we see now where that gets us. No, I don’t like this provincial government, but whining to Mother Wynne is not going to change the political culture in Niagara. Only we can do that.

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  4. The NPCA board is copying Marineland’s strategy — hit everyone who disagrees with anything you want with a SLAPP suit

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Fiona McMurran for your incisive statement. How many times and how many ways can it be said that one should not just vote every time (holding your nose, perhaps) but Pay Attention to the Partiscan platforms, or, in the case of the recently inaugurated Prez, no platform, just bull.
    We reap what we sow. Who said that?

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