Caledon mayor cleared in conflict of interest case
A judge has cleared Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson in a conflict of interest case that centred on family-owned land sold to a developer.
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A judge has dismissed a conflict of interest case against Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson that centred on his family-owned land that was sold for millions of dollars to a developer and votes he took in council.
The decision means Thompson will not be removed from office.
After Torstar News Service reported in 2015 that the mayor had sold land to developer Primont Homes for $9.4 million, which raised concerns about votes he took in council involving development near those lands, resident Kelly Darnley filed a Municipal Conflict of Interest Act application against Thompson in July 2015. Her application sought to remove him from office, alleging he “pushed development to the west of the town,” where he owned land, taking part in council decisions in which he allegedly had a pecuniary interest.
Thompson was clearly relieved by the decision released Wednesday by Justice Peter Daley of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
“Justice Daley delivered a clear and strong message in dismissing conflict of interest allegations against me,” Thompson wrote in an email to Torstar.
“I’m grateful to my family and friends for their love and support. A big thank you to the Caledon residents who have reached out and offered their support, it’s meant a great deal to me.”
“Throughout this process I have worked hard on staying focused on family, community and on my job as mayor.”
In his decision to dismiss the application, Daley wrote that it was Thompson’s uncontradicted evidence that “he did not know” who was buying his land when the deal was initiated in 2014.
He also wrote that Thompson did not “vote on any resolution involving (Primont)” up to the time that the deal closed.
Regarding another allegation, that Thompson had received a $600,000 mortgage in 2007, while a councillor, from a company that allegedly included developers as its principals and then allegedly participated in council decisions regarding at least one of those developers, Daley’s ruling was similar.
“There is no evidence that (Thompson) had any knowledge whatsoever of a connection between the (company that gave the mortgage) and (a developer involved in decisions council dealt with.)”
In dismissing the application, Daley ruled that it failed to provide evidence that Thompson had a pecuniary interest in votes he took regarding development and land use in Caledon.
If found guilty of a violation under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, politicians are to be removed from office unless the court finds they acted inadvertently.
Thompson was represented in the case by lawyer Alan Lenczner, best known for defending former Toronto mayor Rob Ford in a 2012 conflict of interest case. Lenczner had told Daley during one of the hearings for the Caledon mayor's case that the application against him had numerous holes in it, arguing that almost all of the votes detailed in the allegations did not even involve the developers that Thompson, according to the evidence, had financial dealings with.
Hearings were held in the case in April.
Kim Seipt, a spokesperson for local residents group, Your Voice for Bolton, said they were “deeply concerned” with the decision not to hold Thompson accountable for “decision making and alleged conflicts of interest regarding land developments.
“Our community group is losing faith in transparent decision making in Caledon and truly hopes the province strengthens the Conflict of Interest Act,” Seipt said.