News / Winnipeg

Executive policy committee plans response to bungled lawsuit

CAO Doug McNeil said he welcomes the recovery measures, which includes auditor scrutiny.

Winnipeg CAO Doug McNeil said he welcomes an audit of the city's legal department in response to a failed lawsuit, because he wants the City of Winnipeg &quotto be an excellent organization."

Metro File

Winnipeg CAO Doug McNeil said he welcomes an audit of the city's legal department in response to a failed lawsuit, because he wants the City of Winnipeg "to be an excellent organization."

City council’s executive policy committee (EPC) has approved a three-pronged approach to recover from a recently botched lawsuit that cost taxpayers millions.

Near the end of September, council learned a City of Winnipeg lawyer who was handling a lawsuit to recover as much as $20 million in costs associated with alleged deficiencies at the Deacon water treatment plant missed a deadline to file a statement of claim, killing the lawsuit.

The city’s chief administrative officer Doug McNeil took action by dismissing said lawyer, but councillors wanted more accountability.

On Wednesday, committee member Coun. Scott Gillingham combined three separate motions from both EPC and non-EPC councillors to fully encompass the city’s response to the error, which he characterized as being about “protecting the taxpayers.

Gillingham’s EPC-endorsed motion asks for a chronology of events that precipitated the missed deadline, an internal audit that will identify room for improvements within the legal department, and external legal advice in an attempt to recover some of the taxpayer’s money.

McNeil said he welcomes each response, calling the internal audit a “good move.”

“In any review or any audit there will always be found or recommended improvements for change, and I welcome that,” he said. “If we could do our job better by having either internal or external reviews of our processes, then I absolutely welcome that, because I want the City of Winnipeg to be an excellent organization.”

Mayor Brian Bowman also spoke favourably of the motion after Wednesday's meeting, saying it was "very collaborative," adding the measures it calls for are "appropriate steps under the circumstances."

Gillingham’s motion still requires full council approval.

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