The Current “regularly expresses anti-Council sentiments”

Op-Ed                                                                    Photo: Code of Conduct for Council

 

Would you be surprised to learn that the statement in this headline was made by Mayor Kim Love? Probably not, because her lack of love for the Current is well-known: she has attacked the newspaper in her addresses at several Township of Madawaska Valley Council meetings. What may surprise you, however, is where she chose to make this most recent comment.

Last week, the Current informed you that the Mayor had provided a sworn statement in the Court case initiated by former Integrity Commissioner, Jack Rosien. Click HERE to read that report.

That article, citing the publicly-accessible court file, revealed serious accusations of professional misconduct by the Township’s lawyer made by Rosien and supported by a leading authority, and noted that the mayor had sworn an affidavit which disputed Rosien’s charges. The Mayor’s statement that the Current “regularly expresses anti-Council sentiments” is quoted directly from her affidavit.

Readers might ask what possible relevance the Current’s record of reporting has to matters to be decided in this Court case where there are two clear issues:

  • whether the Township breached a contract with Rosien, and
  • whether the Township’s lawyers have breached their professional obligations to the Township’s ratepayers.

This is a good question because the only role that the Current has had in relation to this action is to have reported its existence and the basic facts relating to it.

Moreover, the Mayor goes on to say that she felt “threatened” by the Current. Readers should know that the Current has made it known to Council that it is investigating the circumstances surrounding Rosien’s firing, including why it rejected his offer to complete the three investigations that were outstanding at the date of his termination. As part of this investigation, the Current wrote to the Mayor on April 9 asking her to comment on these matters which must be aired in the public interest. No reply from the Mayor has been received.

The questions put to the Mayor were based on sworn statements made by Rosien which are in the Court file and therefore a matter of public record. Additional evidence filed by him, which the Current has also seen, raises further questions about this Council’s commitment to integrity and accountability. The Current’s investigation continues.

The Current’s publisher, Roger Paul, who practiced law himself for many years before his retirement, commented as follows:

I cannot recall ever having seen such a blatant attempt to curry favour
with a court using such a misleading, but in any event totally irrelevant,
point.

In addition to the irrelevance, Paul had other concerns about this:

What is also of concern is that it was made in a statement purporting
to defend the Township’s lawyer from serious accusations of professional
misconduct. This includes the extent to which services were rendered by
her to a member of Council in conflict with her duty to the Township as
well as Council’s own Code of Conduct. Why was this evidence not given
by the lawyer herself?

Not three weeks into the Current’s existence, the same lawyers issued a communications ban against the owners of the Current, giving as the reason the need to protect Township employees from “harassment.” Letters written by the Current and subsequently its lawyer requesting justification for this obstructive step were ignored.

In any event, the Mayor’s comments about the Current cannot be justified. Of the twenty articles published about Council between January and April 11 (the date of her Affidavit), only two can be characterized as being “critical” of Council, the second one being the Current’s response to the Mayor’s demand for an apology and retraction of the first.

What seems clear is that the Mayor feels threatened by a newspaper that would presume to criticize the elected body. The Current speculated once that the Township of Madawaska Valley was not a “CAO-friendly environment,” it now appears that TMV is also not a friendly environment for investigative journalism.

One Comment

  1. Paul O'Marra McElhinney

    It seems that although elected officials are accountable to those they are elected by, in the case of the Township of Madawaska Valley, the elected officials don’t believe in being transparent and accountable for their decisions and actions? I have always thought that being in a position of public service in Canada requires a certain amount of criticism whether negative or positive. Being questioned about their actions does not constitute harassment and requires a proper professional response.

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