Council seeks relief from possible CNL conflicts of interest

New 2018-2022 Council(2)

by Terry Myers

Laurentian Hills council is asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to give it the green light to deal with issues regarding Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, despite any potential conflict of interest.

In a legal motion filed back in June, Laurentian Hills is asking Ontario Justice Martin James to waive restrictions under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) that might apply to all five members of municipal council.

While Councillor John Hoyle is the only current member of council directly employed by CNL, the four other members – Mayor Jed Reinwald, Deputy Mayor Anne Giardini, and Councillors Brenda Blimkie and Bruce Boucher – all say they also have potential conflicts because they have family members working for the company – a son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter -in-law.

Under the MCIA, a pecuniary interest of immediate family members is considered an “indirect” interest of a municipal councillor.

As such, issues involving CNL could require all five members of Laurentian Hills council to declare conflict of interest and leave the municipality unable to make council decisions.

The court application follows a hearing this spring into an allegation of conflict of interest against Councillor Hoyle filed by local resident Dave Winfield two years ago.

Winfield filed an application in 2017 asking for a court order declaring that Hoyle was in conflict of interest over his support for a motion backing CNL’s proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at the Chalk River labs.

In court in May, Winfield said that Hoyle’s comments on the NSDF, particularly the use of words like “we” and “our,” was “inappropriate for his role on council.”

“Most of his statements gave me the impression he was acting as a spokesman for or representative for his employer, CNL,” Winfield said.

But defence lawyer Ian Keuhl argued that evidence that Hoyle had any “pecuniary” (financial) interest in the issue was “lacking.”

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