“In summary, … the councillor did not contravene the Code as alleged in the Complaint. The Complaint is lacking in merit. There is no contravention of any of the provisions of the Code, including the provisions relating to “Release of Confidential Information Prohibited”, “Respect, Truth, Honesty and Integrity” or “Pursuit of Excellence” … In view of the findings that no Code provisions have been contravened, there is no sanction or penalty recommended.” – Niagara Region’s Integrity Commission, John Mascarin on a complaint filed last November 14th against St. Catharines regional councillor Brian Heit
“In summary, there is no evidence to indicate that the councillor breached the Code with respect to the provisions related to Release of Confidential Information Prohibited, Respect, Truth, Honesty and Integrity and the Pursuit of Excellence as alleged in the Complaint. The provisions of the Code have not been found to have been contravened by the councillor. The Complaint is dismissed. …. In view of the findings that no Code provisions have been contravened, there is no sanction or penalty recommended.” – Niagara Region’s Integrity Commission, John Mascarin on a complaint filed last November 20th, 2016 against St. Catharines regional councillor Kelly Edgar
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted April 7th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Documents dating back to this past February, outlining a review of allegations filed by an individual or group identified only as “a complainant” against St. Catharines regional councillors Brian Heit and Kelly Edgar, have recently found their way to Niagara Region’s website.
The two documents, prepared by Niagara Region’s Integrity Commission, John Mascarin, end with Mascarin concluding that complaints made against the councilors, allgeging that they had broken the Region’s ‘Code of Conduct’ rules, “have no merit” and are therefore “dismissed.”
The complaints against Heit and Edgar date back to November of last year and alleged that the two councillors violated provisions of the Region’s Code of Conduct requiring them to protect information dealt with at closed meetings, and that they violated provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, failed to respect the right to confidentiality of all clients, volunteers and employees.
The complaints also alleged that the councillor also breached the following a provision of the Code of Conduct requiring members of council to “be cognizant of their position within the Region and the trust and influence that can be afforded these positions by clients and community agencies,” and “ensure that they are operating in a manner that does not violate trust relationships or abuse the power of the position.”
Mascarin – a Toronto-based lawyer under contract with the Region to perform Integrity Commissioner duties -concluded that there was “no evidence” to support any of these allegations which were filed in the wake of a detailed report titled; ‘A Call for ACCOUNTABILITY at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA)’ and produced by parties outside of regional council circles, apparently being circulated to members of the Region’s council prior to an October 31st, 2-16 vote on whether or not to hire former NPCA CAO Carmen D’Angelo to the regional government’s chief administrative officer – a vote that ultimately awarded D’Angelo the job.
When contacted by Niagara At Large about the Integrity Commissioner’s rulings, Heit and Edgar said they have been instructed by legal counsel not to make any comment at this time.
The two regional councillors, along with Niagara citizen Ed Smith, continue to face a slander and defamation lawsuit filed against them by Bill Montgomery, the operator of a Niagara-on-the-Lake marketing business, related to some of the content in the same ‘A Call for ACCOUNTABILITY at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’ report that was a subject of the complaints to the Integrity Commissioner.
In a separate action, Smith, a well-known community activist in his home municipality of St. Catharines and a retired Canadian Forces officer is facing a $200,000 defamation lawsuit filed against him by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and D’Angelo.
That lawsuit came in the wake of Smith, along with growing numbers of other Niagara citizens and municipal council members, raising questions and concerns about the NPCA’s hiring and firing practices, its awarding of contracts to outside parties and other matters involving the expenditures of money it receives from municipal and other levels of government.
Smith recently filed a counter-suit against the NPCA and its board of director’s former chair, St. Catharines regional council, accusing them of wrongly portraying him as “a liar and forger and/or fabricator of documents.”
Much more from Niagara At Large on all of this in the days and weeks ahead. Stay Tuned!
Meanwhile, to read the entirety of Integrity Commissioner’s rulings on the complaints against St. Catharines regional councillors Brian Heit and Kelly Edgar, click on the following and scroll down to about page 65 – – http://www.niagararegion.ca/council/Council%20Documents/2017/council-correspondence-march-24-2017.pdf .
FINALLY, Niagara’s regional government is holding a Public Input meeting on the Region’s Code of Conduct and what should be in it and how it should be applied this coming Tuesday, April 11th at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Niagara Regional Headquarters off Sir Isaac Brock Way in Thorold.
For more on this Public Input session and the Region’s Code of Conduct, click on – www.niagararegion.ca/conduct .
A Note To Readers – For legal reasons, Niagara At Large cannot post any comment below from a reader that speculates or attempt to identify what individual or group may have been behind the complaints filed against the two Niagara regional councillors. Thanks in advance for your understanding on this.
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