Posted On: Monday, December 31, 2018
In 2016 Councillor Seguin was advised by the Mayor that a formal complaint regarding his actions and behaviors had been filed, and that a formal investigation would be started immediately. While it became generally known that the complaint was filed by former CAO Troy Speck on behalf of town staff, the specifics of the complaint were not made public. On September 15, 2016 Council received Staff Report FAF.16.90 "Recommendations for Sanctions" and made a declaration that Councillor Seguin violated the harassment policy on all allegations and the workplace harassment provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and directed that a series of sanctions be implemented against Councillor Seguin. While the sanctions were made public the allegations and the findings of the investigation report were not.
Many in the community decried this lack of openness and transparency. Complaints were filed with the Ombudsman of Ontario, and the Town’s newly appointed Integrity Commissioner regarding the lack of disclosure. Both accepted the Town’s contention that the investigation had not been carried out under the Code of Conduct and thus no public report was necessary. Both however noted that they did not specifically look at how the matter was dealt with.
Read the full story in the Citizens Pages September issue, as well as the supporting public documents.
On September 21, 2018, in the Superior Court of Justice, Brampton, Ontario, the Town’s motion for costs for the judicial review application brought and abandoned by former Councillor Seguin, was heard by the Honourable Justice W. M. Lemay.
Then Councillor Seguin, brought the application for judicial review to seek a review of the process followed to find him guilty and sanction him, with respect to a complaint brought against him by the former CAO. Councillor Seguin resigned in May 2018 for health and personal reasons. He abandoned his application for Judicial Review in August 2018.
There is a presumption where an action is abandoned, the other party is entitled to the costs of the motion forthwith, unless the court orders otherwise. The Town requested $50,000.
Although this was a costs hearing only and the merits of the case were not before the court, the judge noted in his remarks to counsel.
“I’ve read the file in enough detail, and it interested me enough that I spent a little bit of time on the issue of the, the underlying issue on this case being whether or not there is clear authority one way or the other as to whether the Occupational Health and Safety Act governs and whether – or whether or not a – the Municipal Act governs in this case. I wasn’t able to come to a clear conclusion on it because the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act say it governs over any other legislation. But there’s an interesting question as to whether a municipal councillor was – is an employee of a municipality and therefore subject to the investigatory powers that an employer has under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. ‘Cause if not an employee then – anyway, it was interesting question.”
Fortunately, the Integrity Commissioner in helping the Town rewrite its policies in the wake of the Seguin affair has answered this question. The Town’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy, as rewritten now clearly states that:
“This policy applies to all Town Workers including students on placement, individuals contracted by the Town on a “purchase for service” agreement, Volunteers and to the Members of Public.
The only exceptions are for Members of Council and local Boards who are subject to the Code of Conduct for Members of Council including the workplace harassment and discrimination provisions found in the Code of Conduct. “, making it clear that in the case of Members of Council priority is now given to the Municipal Act.
In his reasons for judgement on his ruling for costs the judge stated:
“Nothing in this decision is to be taken as a comment on the merits of this case one way or the other. I expressly make no determination in that regard.”
“There are only two questions that I have to answer. One, is there any basis to rebut the presumption that the Town is entitled to the cost of this abandoned application. And two, if the answer to the first question is no, then what is the appropriate quantum of costs.”
The judge found that there was a presumption that the Town was entitled to costs, but stated that in his opinion the time spent on this file by the Town was excessive. He concluded “I am of the view that a cost in the amount of $20,000 inclusive of HST and disbursement should be ordered in this matter.” “The costs are to be paid within a hundred and eighty days of today’s date.”
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