Lawyer alleges conflict in whistle-blower case

Pietersma. UCDSB Director David Thomas said the application was necessary to restore confi- dence in the public education system and the opportunities that sports, the arts, after- school academic help, and other activities provide to our students. “We want to restore order in our schools so that our students, staff and community can have confidence in their public educa- tion system,” added Thomas. Pietersma said that this decision is need- ed to bring clarity to this situation that was neither created by the board or the federa- tion. “This application was caused by the pro- vincial government and not the teachers’ unions,” said Pietersma. “The provincial government has had ample opportunity to make things right but has chosen not to do so. “We hope going forward that all parties will learn from this unfortunate situation.” The public had no early notice of the Sat- urday meeting because it had been sched- uled during a Jan. 21 in-camera session of council, said Finn in an earlier interview with The Journal. The city had also sched- uled a one-hour in-camera session for this past Monday’s meeting, but Finn do not reply to an email from The Journal asking whether Kilger would attend that session. Both meeting agendas – the one for Feb. 16 and the one for last Tuesday -- had listed Kilger as chair of the meeting, but he was not present last Tuesday. Grant, instead, was tapped at the last minute to chair the meeting. two other lawyers already identified by The Journal and The Cornwall Free News , the only two media with representatives at last Tuesday’s session. They are heavy-hitting Toronto lawyer William McDowell, whose firm represented Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in his conflict of interest case, and city lawyer David Sheriff-Scott. Mayor Bob Kilger, who was reportedly in a meeting in his office prior to the meeting but quickly left when the meeting began, and Councillor Bernadette Clement were absent from the meeting. Under questioning from The Journal pri- or to in-camera discussions, acting mayor Glen Grant and City Clerk Helen Finn said there was no reason to invite the public and meeting back into the council chambers after the closed session because council would not be re-emerging into a public ses- sion at the end of the meeting. City hall had originally scheduled the meeting for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, but postponed the meeting to last Tuesday af- ternoon for unknown reasons. One veteran councillor said it is the first time he ever saw a meeting scheduled for a Saturday morn- ing at city hall.


Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Fed- eration is recommending its teachers suspend their political action related to extra-curricular and voluntary activities. But it doesn’t necessarily mean all teach- ers are in lock step with their union. OSSTF President Ken Coran said in a com- ment posted to Twitter Monday morning that he doesn’t expect all public high school teachers to resume their involvement in ex- tracurricular activities. And media reports subsequent to Friday’s announcement in- dicate not all teachers are happy with the union’s decision. The decision was announced by the union’s provincial council late Friday after- noon. The council is the legislative body of OSSTF/FEESO between annual meetings and is responsible for the interim policy and political action. It consists of over 150 local The lawyer for two people who filed whis- tle-blower complaints against the city last year says one member of city council is in conflict of interest in connection with one of the complaints. “If a member of council has a pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter be- fore council, the member must declare his/ her interest and not participate or influence anything pertaining to that matter,” wrote Fay Brunning in an email to The Journal. “Even for closed meetings, the interest must be declared in the public minutes at the next open meeting of council. That is what a conflict of interest means under this legislation,” continued Brunning, who rep- resented renowned whistle-blower Diane Shay in a case against the city in late 2011 to which the city pleaded guilty and was fined. “That means in one of the two whistle- blower complaints, the member of council either has a pecuniary interest or their par- ent, spouse or child as a pecuniary interest that must be investigated,” Brunning as- serted. Even more disturbing is, if what Brunning alleges is true, it means that one council member has been in conflict of interest during ongoing in-camera discussions that have taken place since one of the whistle- blower complaints were filed early last year. It was believed that a three-hour in-cam- era session of city council last Tuesday was called specifically to address the whistle- blower complaints and conflict of interest allegation. No information was given to the media at the session, not even the names of non-city officials attending or who was to

Photo - Greg Kielec

Pictured, from foreground, is city lawyer David Sheriff-Scott, Toronto lawyer William McDowell and Ottawa lawyer Guy Regimbald prior to a three-hour in-camera session held by Cornwall city council on Tuesday.

attend via teleconference. City Clerk Helen

The Ontario Labour Relations Board is now expected to release its decision on whether public elementary teachers’ re- fusal to participate in extra-curricular ac- tivities in protest of the province’s Bill 115. The OLRB is not expected to issue a writ- ten ruling on the matter until the middle of this week, said Upper Canada District School Board Chair Greg Pietersma. The UCDSD and the Trillium Lakelands District School Board are challenging a di- rective from ETFO that effectively ordered teachers not to volunteer for extracurricular and co-curricular activities in our schools. The school board will publicly release the written decision once it is received, Pieters- ma said in the release. “This application has always been about restoring teachers’ ability to make the choice to volunteer or not volunteer,” said name of an unidentified man in the gallery prior to the meeting. His name is Guy Regimbald, who, The Journal has learned, is a partner in the Otta- wa law firm Gowlings. Regimbald practises in the areas of consti- tutional and adminis- trative law, aboriginal law, copyright law, tax law and general litiga- tion, according to the company website. The minutes also reveal the names of

Finn assured The Journal that the minutes of the meeting would

“That means in one of the two whistleblower complaints, the member of council either has a pecuniary interest or their parent, spouse or child as a pecuniary interest that must be investigated.”

leaders from across the province. “We expect that this sign of goodwill from our members will prompt the government to have genuine discussions that can lead to a fair resolution to this current impasse,” said Coran in announcing the decision Fri- day. But he also added a cautionary note. “We still maintain that voluntary activi- ties are just that: voluntary. We encourage members to review recent information and decide if they are willing to return to partici- pating in the activities we know they feel so passionately about.” Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed her enthusiasm for the announcement in a statement from Queen’s Park on Friday. “I’m happy to hear the results of today’s vote by OSSTF members, and I’m so glad that teachers, support staff and students across the province will once again enjoy the extracurricular activities and programs that mean so much to them.” contain any deci- sions, motions or declarations made during the in-cam- era session. But the minutes, released Friday as part of council’s Monday meeting agenda, revealed no new information other than the

Union suggests teachers suspend action GREG KIELEC GREG.KIELEC@EAP.ON.CA

OLRB teacher decision now expected this week GREG KIELEC GREG.KIELEC@EAP.ON.CA

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