“I believe there is an ethical and moral responsibility to step down.” – Welland Mayor Frank Campion
A News Report from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
Posted November 28th, 2018
In the wake of growing public anger over members of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) current board ‘apparent refusal to give up their seats, one board member – Welland Mayor Frank Campion – has tendered his letter of resignation.
In a brief, November 28th letter to the NPCA board’s chair and recently defeated Fort Erie regional Councillor Sandy Annunziata, Campion wrote the following:
“Chair Annunziata –
“This correspondence is to advice you that I am resigning from the board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) effective November 30. 2018.
“I believe that the mandate of the board should expire at the end of the Regional Council term. While this may not be legislatively required, I believe there is an ethical and moral responsibility to step down and I would urge all other Regional Councillors who are NPCA board members to resign as well.”
– Thank You, Regards, Mayor Frank Campion”
Campion’s letter comes five days after Annunziata sent a two-page memo to Niagara’s regional government and to all 12 local municipalities in Niagara, insisting that a 1994 Order in Council from the Ontario government gives the current NPCA board the right ( even though a number of the board members either lost their municipal council seats or decided not to run for another term in the October 22nd municipal elections) to remain in place and play a role in deciding who sits on the board for the next four years.
Annunziata’s memo came after at least a few Niagara municipalities, including St. Catharines and Fort Erie, had already moved forward with a process for appointing a new person to represent them on the board.
The memo also set off a firestorm of protest from other parties across Niagara, including the region-wide citizens watchdog group A Better Niagara and Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch who released a statement earlier this November 28th reading, in part: “This is a last grab at power that people of Niagara will not stand for. … I would ask those not successful in the recent election to respect the will of Niagara taxpayers and step aside in order to allow the newly elected councils to determine board appointments.”
Along with Annunziata, four other Niagara politicians who lost their seats in the October municipal elections remain on the NPCA board. They include Pelham‘s outgoing regional councillor Brian Baty, St. Catharines’ outgoing regional councillor Bruce Timms, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s outgoing Lord Mayor Patrick Darte, and West Lincoln’s outgoing Mayor Doug Joyner.
Two other board members, who did not run for another term of office in the October elections and who we have not heard tell of a resignation letter from them at the time of this posting, are outgoing Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs and outgoing Port Colborne Mayor John Maloney.
Also still apparently holding on to his seat on the board is Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati who won his bid for another term as the city’s mayor.
Niagara’s local municipalities are all holding the inaugural ceremonies for their new councils in the days ahead and the Region is swearing in its new council and choosing a new chair on December 6th – at which point whatever time defeated councillors and may believe they have left in elected office will completely expire.
Campion served on the NPCA board for the past four years – a period that saw several environmental experts on the Conservation Authority’s staff let go, saw the filing of an unsuccessful lawsuit against St. Catharines citizen Ed Smith after he raised a long list of questions and concerns about the way the Conservation Authority has been operating with millions of our tax dollars.
Campion was also a member of the board a year ago this past spring when censured and saw the resignation of one of its members, Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson, after he pressed for an independent audit of the NPCA’s operations. Earlier this year, still shaken by his treatment on the board, Hodgson decided not to run for another term of office.
And Campion was also on the obard when it decided to slap a lawsuit against a former NPCA employee and respected conservationist, Jocelyn Baker, after she spoke out about cases of workplace harassment at the agency – a harassment problem that was later acknowledged in a detailed report released this past September by Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.
Despite calls from members of the public and opportunities for the board to drop the lawsuit against Baker, it never did so and the lawsuit remains on the books for the new board to deal with, one way or another.
To read another recent story on the NPCA board controversy, posted earlier this November 28th on Niagara At Large, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/11/28/niagara-centre-mpp-jeff-burch-tells-sandy-annunziata-and-current-npca-board-to-go/ .
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