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.
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.
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.
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 lawuits – http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/01/23/npca-report-lawsuits-piling-up .
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