On Feb. 28 the Current reported that MV Township’s former Integrity Commissioner, Jack Rosien, had commenced a legal action against the Township for breach of contract. Click HERE to read that story. The Current has now learned that Rosien has asked the Court to stop the Township’s lawyers (Belleville firm Templeman) from continuing to represent it in the proceedings. The reasons given include allegations of conflict of interest on the part of the law firm. This relates to Templeman representing, at the same time, both the Township and a member of council under investigation by Rosien. In addition, the Court has been told of a prohibition in Council’s Code of Conduct that bars councillors from using the services of the Township’s lawyers.
The Current has accessed the public court file which contains evidence filed with the Court by Rosien including the legal opinion of John Mascarin, a partner in the Toronto firm of Aird Berlis. Mascarin has many years’ experience practising exclusively in the area of municipal law and is currently the appointed Integrity Commissioner for a dozen municipalities in Ontario. He is also an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and has taught courses there since 2006, including a course on municipalities and ethics.
In his report, Mascarin lists the facts that caused him to arrive at his conclusion that the Templeman lawyer
… clearly placed herself in a position of conflict of interest, rendered the
councillor in contravention of S. 5(c) of the Code, and inappropriately inter-
fered with the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation. It is my conclusion
that the solicitor and the law firm acted in an improper manner and contrary
to the rules of professional conduct. The solicitor and the law firm have com-
promised their duty of impartiality and loyalty to the township.
Mascarin also states that for these reasons
It is my opinion it would be entirely improper or inappropriate for the solicitor
and/or law firm to be defending your action for breach of contract given the clear conflict of interest it has demonstrated in representing both the councillor and the township.
Mayor Kim Love has sworn an Affidavit responding to Rosien’s charges which he has countered with another of his own in which he refers to a number of “inaccuracies” in her Affidavit.
Rosien’s request was originally scheduled to be considered by the judge on April 26 in Pembroke. However, the Current has been advised by the Court that an adjournment was requested and granted, with the result that a new date of June 7 has been set. The Current will continue to follow this case and report any developments.
Editor’s note: Readers should note this is a report of allegations made in court proceedings about which no decision has yet been reached.