I’ve seen some pretty flagrant abuses of power in TSBP council chambers over the years, but none so flagrant as what I and others witnessed September 20, 2016.
On that day, without any legitimate authority, and lacking any competence, and driven by malice, council and the clerk held court, Janice Jackson presiding, accusing me, without valid grounds, of violation of two Ontario statutes, and of two years of harassment of clerk Cathrae, and tried me, and convicted me, and sentenced me.
I protested vehemently, insisting that the accusers put their allegations before a competent adjudicator, but to no avail.
Here’s the history behind the Kangaroo Court of September 20, 2016.
April 27, 2016 the Committee of adjustment (“COA”) granted a minor variance. Some residents disagreed with the COA decision and appealed the COA decision to the OMB. I felt that the COA had treated the appellants unfairly. I helped the appellants prepare for their OMB hearing, and helped them at the hearing, not in my role as a councillor, and not as a representative, but as a friend.
My participation in the OMB hearing was none of council’s business, and none of staff’s business, and none of the Clerk’s business, and none of the mayor’s business.
In spite of that, clerk Angie Cathrae, with the support of Janice Jackson, commissioned a letter from the town lawyer (Steven O’Melia), that letter accusing me of:
1) illegally providing legal services without a licence, and,
2) some undefined vague allegation of impropriety (which Janice Jackson presented as a of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act).
I was confident that the lawyer’s report was commissioned purely for malicious and private purpose, and that the allegations in the lawyer’s letter were part of a personal vendetta on the part of one or more staff or council members.
I was very concerned that taxpayers’ money was being improperly used for private purpose.
I wrote a report to council claiming that the Clerk commissioning the lawyer’s letter was an improper use of taxpayers’ funds for private purpose, and I suggested that council take action to stop the initiative and prevent any recurrence.
My report and the lawyer’s letter are in the September 20, 2016 meeting agenda at:
My report was discussed at the September 20, 2016 council meeting.
I started the discussion by making it very clear that the matter I had put before council was about the improper and in my view illegal use of public funds for private purpose. I made very clear that the matter I had put before council was not the allegations of my violation of the Law Society Act or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or whether I was guilty of contravening either act. I made very clear that neither the allegations nor whether I was guilty were issues on the agenda.
I gave a short summary of my report, arguing only that the use of public funds for the lawyer’s letter was improper, and I recommended that council act to stop that improper use of taxpayers’ funds.
When I was done Mayor Jackson offered a rebuttal.
Her argument as I understand it was:
1) I could be sued for breaching the law society act or charged for breach of the conflict of interest act,
2) Our TSBP indemnification bylaw requires that the town (the taxpayers) provide and pay for a lawyer to defend me and also to pay any settlement costs awarded against me;
3) The taxpayers would thus be out a bunch of money;
4) The clerk and council had no choice but to stop me from doing whatever they alleged I had done;
5) They had no choice but to commission the lawyer’s letter to prevent further costs to the taxpayers.
Ms. Jackson was very clear that her concern about the town having to pay my legal fees applied to both the conflict of interest allegation and the Law Society Act allegations.
Later in the discussion clerk Cathrae repeated much the same rebuttal, except that Ms. Cathrae focused more on the law society allegations and less on the conflict of interest allegations.
Ms.Cathrae claimed: that it was her duty to pay the lawyer to commission the letter; that she had to commission the lawyer’s letter to protect the taxpayers; and that she had commissioned the lawyer’s letter to protect me from myself.
In a most condescending and arrogant tone she said:
Our indemnification bylaw states that if you act in bad faith you are not protected. So we wanted to let you know that perhaps you’ve made an error, we all make errors, we are not perfect, not one of us. We wanted you to know that in the opinion of our esteemed solicitor, you have made an error. We do not wish to see you make this error again. We do not wish you to place yourself in a liableous? [libelous?]? position. We do not wish for the rest of this town to be placed in a liableous ? [libelous?]? position. We do not want to see a litany of litigation against you or this town, whether you believe this or not.
The Cathrae/ Jackson rebuttals are nonsensical and ridiculous.
Regarding a potential conflict of interest proceeding, section 2 (b) of the indemnification by-law reads:
- This by-law does not apply to:
(b) the payment of any damages, fines or costs awarded by a Court or agreed to by settlement of an action or other proceeding for an …… or an action or proceeding brought under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, as amended.
Clearly, the indemnification by-law provides only limited coverage for any council member for a conflict of interest matter. But there is no way a conflict of interest charge could be successful against me. The meeting where I allegedly breached the rule was June 7, 2016. There is a six week time period for applications to determine whether I offended to be brought to court. The latest for an application would be July 19, 2016, which was six weeks earlier than the lawyer’s letter. Further there was no pecuniary interest. If it ever got to court (which is extremely unlikely), I would win and my costs would be paid mostly by the applicant, and those costs not paid by the applicant would be paid by the town’s insurance company. There could not and would not be any costs to the taxpayers.
Furthermore, Ms. Jackson contradicted her own argument by claiming that if I were given taxpayers’ money for a lawyer and I were “found guilty”, I would have to pay it back:
But the concern here is who’s gonna pay for it . The good news is as soon as you’re found guilty you’re going to have to pay all that money back to the town. So really the town oughta be smart and get the most expensive darn lawyer we can find and then you’ll have to pay back a whole whack of money.
I took her argument to be applicable in her mind to both Conflict of Interest proceedings and Law society act proceedings, and for that matter any other kind of proceedings.
It’s true that the indemnification by-law provides for the town to choose a lawyer:
- The Town shall have the right to select and retain a lawyer to represent a person
So according to Ms. Jackson, if I were indemnified Ms. Jackson and Ms. Cathrae could choose a lawyer and the costs could be in the tens of thousands.
But contrary to Ms. Jackson, there is no provision in the indemnification by-law that says that the council member must pay the money back if found guilty.
Still Ms. Jackson’s belief that the money would have to be paid back directly contradicts her argument that that taxpayer’s would have to pay.
Ms. Jackson not only contradicted her own argument, but also demonstrated a malicious and vengeful and mean spirited intent.
The intent of the indemnification by-law is to indemnify against accidental harm. In her statement Ms. Jackson threatens to use the by-law to financially ruin me, a clearly improper and malicious purpose.
Furthermore, it is staff and the mayor that decide whether a member of council is indemnified. Clearly if I were to apply for indemnification, I would be turned down.
There is no way that there will be a cost to the taxpayers if I am charged under conflict of interest law.
The Jackson /Cathrae rebuttal fails with respect to conflict of interest proceedings.
The Cathrae/Jackson rebuttal also fails for court proceedings regarding allegations of violation of the Law Society Act.
Section 3 of the indemnification bylaw starts:
- Subject to s. 2 of this by-law, the Town shall indemnify every employee, appointee and Councillor and his or her heirs and legal representatives in the manner and to the extent provided by s. 4 of this by-law in respect of any action or proceeding by a third party arising out of an act or omission done or made by such person in his or her capacity as or by reason of being or having been an employee, appointee or Councillor, including acting in the performance of any
statutory duty imposed by any general or special Act, if: [emphasis added]
Indemnification is only available for consequences of acts taken by a council member that are part of his or her duties.
There is no way that my participation in the OMB process could be construed as being part of my duties as a councillor. My participation in the OMB hearing was not even while I was doing my councillor duties. So there is no coverage via the indemnification by-law for any action taken against me related to the OMB process.
Even Ms. Jackson argued implicitly that my participation in the OMB hearing of August 12 was not part of my duties as a member of council.
If I were ever charged for a Law Society Act offence (which is extremely unlikely) there would be no legitimate claim of indemnification and so indemnification by-law coverage would not be available to me, and so I would not be covered by the indemnification by-law, and so there would not be any cost or risk to the taxpayers.
Section 3 (a) of the indemnification by-law further puts the Cathrae/ Jackson rebuttal to rest.
- …., the Town shall indemnify every Councillor if:
(a) he or she acted honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Town;
Both Ms. Jackson and Ms. Cathrae have implicitly or explicitly claimed that in participating in the OMB hearing I was not acting honestly or in good faith or with a view to the best interests of the Town.
- Jackson and Ms. Cathrae make the decisions of whether a council member gets indemnified. There is just no way they are going to provide me with any taxpayers’ money to defend against any Law Society Act offences.
The Jackson /Cathrae rebuttal with respect to Law Society Act allegations fails under the tiniest bit of scrutiny.
There is no way that there will be a cost to the taxpayers if I am charged under Law Society Act.
Ms. Cathrae at one point claimed that she can use the “legal” budget for whatever she deems appropriate.
This is incorrect. She cannot use the legal budget for private purpose. There must be a legitimate and clear need by the town (not a private person) for legal services. Her claim fails.
My participation in the OMB hearing posed absolutely no financial risk to the taxpayers.
So my claim that taxpayer funds were improperly used stands.
With the Cathrae/ Jackson rebuttals in tatters, and with no valid reason for commissioning the lawyer’s letter being provided or available, the only possible conclusion is that the August 31 lawyer’s letter was commissioned for private purpose, and I submit for malicious private purpose. My claim was and is that by commissioning the lawyer’s letter, Ms. Cathrae and Ms. Jackson improperly used public funds for private purpose.
Using tax dollars for private purpose is a serious breach of the public trust.
Taxpayers should be concerned about the improper use of their money for private and improper purpose.
The discussion September 20 regarding whether the commissioning of the lawyer’s letter was improper was on the agenda. Having that discussion was legitimate and interesting.
But after the discussion of whether the use of taxpayers’ funds to commission the letter was improper was over, the discussion went right off the rails, and turned really ugly.
Instead of limiting discussion to the issue of whether taxpayer money was improperly used for private purpose, as was her duty as chair, Janice Jackson ignored the agenda and introduced the issue of whether I had breached the Law Society Act and/ or the municipal conflict of interest act.
Then Ana Vukovic and Matt Jackson accused me of contravening the conflict act, and deputy Kirkland accused me of violating the law society act, and a third allegation was added directly by the clerk and the mayor, (and implicitly by others), namely that I had harassed the clerk continuously for two full years. Then Janice Jackson proclaimed that I was guilty of harassment (of Cathrae), saying:
(“It is absolutely harassing and it’s been going on for two years”).
These matters were not on the agenda and so discussion of them was against the rules, and was improper.
I protested that whether I committed offences or not was not on the agenda and not within council’s legitimate authority and that discussing them was against the rules. I especially protested that the discussion of harassment was way out of order as it was not on the agenda, and was not even alluded to in the agenda package. The mayor, without legitimate reason, overruled.
You have to hear the discussion to believe it. It is at:
A transcript is at:
The mayor, exercising authority that she did not legitimately possess, continued to hold Kangaroo Court.
The Kangaroo Court read the charges and proceeded to vigorously prosecute.
I did not recognize the authority of the Kangaroo Court, and so beyond pleading a denial of the charges I did not defend myself against the charges. Instead I repeatedly challenged my accusers, including J. Jackson and Ms. Cathrae, to cease the Kangaroo court and instead take their allegations before a competent tribunal or adjudicator so that due process could be followed and so that I could get a fair and just hearing of the allegations against me, and so I could clear my name.
This too was overruled by the Kangaroo Court judge. And the Kangaroo Court trial continued.
Due process was denied me. The principle of presumption of innocence until found guilty by a legitimate and competent tribunal was completely ignored.
Self-appointed judges J. Jackson and A. Cathrae, without due process, in their Kangaroo Court, found me guilty on all three counts (practicing law without a licence, conflict of interest, and harassment).
The vindictive crusade had nothing to do with legitimate town business. The Kangaroo Court was clearly conducted for private purpose, which may have been political purpose.
Then rather than stopping there and not spending any more taxpayers’ money maliciously for private purpose, as I had requested in my report and oral argument, the self-appointed judges and their fawning sycophants decided to do the exact opposite.
They decided to spend more taxpayer’s money for what I continued to claim was private purpose.
A resolution was made to get the town lawyers (at taxpayer’s expense) to make a complaint to the Upper Canada Law Society apparently requesting that the Law Society charge me with practicing law without a licence. The resolution also appears to include getting the town’s lawyers to request that the law society do something about the allegations of conflict of interest, but there is a bit of ambiguity on that part of the resolution.
(There was nothing in the motion about the third allegation, harassment).
The direction to the town lawyers clearly will result in more use of public funds for private malicious purpose.
The charge of harassment was put first by the clerk. She literally yelled at me in the council meeting, as if yelling somehow made her claims valid. Again my response was a challenge to the clerk to put her harassment allegations to a proper authority. Her reply was that she would not do that because the cost to the residents would be too high.
Her reply is as bogus as the Jackson/ Cathrae indemnification cost argument above.
A complaint to the ministry of labour, who are responsible for enforcing the Occupational Health and safety act, costs nothing. It is true that if an investigation of the harassment complaint were ordered by the ministry, or commissioned by the town, it would cost money. But I think very little as the allegations are without merit.
If Ms. Cathrae is unwilling to put her allegations before a competent authority, she should not be making the allegations.
Our harassment policy requires that if a complaint cannot be resolved informally, then the complaint must be formally brought to the complainant’s supervisor, and that supervisor must take some action.
Ms. Cathrae has declined to bring the complaint forward according to that policy. I submit that her reason for not acting is not about cost to the taxpayers, but rather a concern that her allegations will be found to be meritless.
I note that the following has just been added to the Occupational Health and safety Act (“OHSA”):
- (4) A reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment.
I am told and do believe that this was added to OHSA to complaints that “criticism” is “workplace harassment”.
I submitted several times during the September 20 Kangaroo Court that the reason Ms. Cathrae refused to go to the authorities is because her allegations of two years of harassment are meritless, and would be dealt with as meritless.
This is not the first time groundless allegations have been made against me.
In January 2012 I was sued for $700,000 (along with three others) for defamation by then Chief Administrator Rhonda Cook. This was a personal vendetta by Cook and then-mayor John Close and possibly others. It was an improper use of taxpayer funds. Legal costs borne by taxpayers were significant. The claims against me were groundless. The matter never got to court. Ms. Cook withdrew the minute council decided to stop paying her legal bills.
In 2012 as a result of complaints by former staff and at least one former council member I was charged with practicing engineering without a licence. May 24, 2011 council minutes were put forward by Professional Engineers Ontario (“PEO”) as the key evidence of my guilt. I played my audio recording of the May 24 meeting and presented a transcript of the supposedly incriminating dialogue for a Justice of the Peace and the PEO lawyer and convinced both of them that the May 24, 2011 minutes were a gross distortion of what I had actually said in the meeting, and the charges were dropped. There was no valid reason for staff or council members to complain to PEO. The complaints were clearly vexatious. There were no legal fees but there was plenty of staff time used. This was an improper use of taxpayer resources for private purpose.
In 2013 I was accused of assault of residents and staff and banned from town hall for it. I challenged the ban in court. The court found no evidence of wrongdoing by me even using a low balance of probabilities evidence hurdle. The ban was found by the court to be illegal on four counts. Because it was illegal it follows that it was improper use of taxpayers’ funds to make the ban and to defend it. I still submit that the ban was made for private purpose, although the judge determined that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of bad faith on the part of council.
In 2016 once again complaints were made either by TSBP staff and/or a council member or members or both that I had again practiced engineering without a licence. The allegations were meritless. There were no valid grounds for the complaint. The complaint was clearly vexatious, a personal vendetta, an improper use of taxpayer funds. PEO backed off once they got the facts; no charges were laid, no formal investigation was made, and the matter was quietly dropped by PEO.
And many more too numerous to discuss here.
(Others have been accused of wrongdoing, without grounds. I will share details if requested.)
All of these attacks against me I submit were at least partly private matters. But all of the unwarranted attacks against me were financed by the taxpayers.
The illegal banning of me from town hall (for private purpose), alone cost the taxpayers well over $100,000. It was all completely avoidable.
Because I did not want to appear to recognize the legitimacy of the Kangaroo Court, I refused to put up a defence. But I have much evidence that people who are not lawyers commonly represent parties in OMB hearings.
Every OMB appeal notice has a spot where representatives are named. Representatives who are not lawyers must sign the form and declare that they are a representative. The forms I checked had as many non-lawyers representatives as lawyers.
The OMB procedural manual says non-lawyers can represent at OMB hearings.
A September 1, 2016 letter from appellants in case OMB PL1600887 to Angie Cathrae notified Ms. Cathrae that Cuesta Planning consultants are were their representatives for the OMB appeal.
The letter is at:
Ms. Cathrae knows that Cuesta Planning Consultants are not lawyers. Ms. Cathrae knows they are planners.
So if Ms. Cathrae is so absolutely confident that it is illegal for non-lawyers like me to represent parties in an OMB hearing, why hasn’t she commissioned the town lawyers to write a letter to Cuesta Planning Consultants accusing them of breaching the Law Society Act and threatening legal action against them?
Because Cuesta Planning Consultants are not in her crosshairs. But I am. That is the only plausible explanation.
Ms. Cathrae’s attack on me is driven not by reason, and not by the law, and not by the facts, but by malice.
Residents need not worry about me. But residents should be concerned about the use of their hard-earned money to wage private vendettas against anyone who did nothing more than criticise.
I have two minds about being charged on any of the three current allegations against me (practicing law without a license, conflict of interest, harassment). On the one hand the process of getting these allegations officially declared groundless will be extremely hard on me, financially and emotionally. On the other hand, maybe it will slow down or even finally put an end to some staff and some council dipping into the people’s treasury to wage their private vindictive wars.
I wanted the residents to know that the allegations against me in the past have been shown to be groundless. I am confident that the current allegations would also be found groundless if the accusers had the guts to take their accusations before a legitimate authority.
It would be great if residents would recognize that the problem is certain staff and certain council members bullying any resident, (not just me), who dares to criticise the staff or council member’s actions, or even just dares to disagree. What would be nice is if some of the stronger residents would get involved in support of those residents who are bullied by council or staff but do not have the resources to stand up to the bullying.
I would appreciate if anyone so bullied would post a comment on my blog at http://www.craiggammieblog.com, giving your experience. (Use a moniker to remain anonymous if you wish.)
Another issue is Ms. Cathrae inserting herself into council debates as if she is an elected member. But that`s for another commentary.