One of the items on the agenda for the August 27 council meeting was correspondence from Roger Paul, publisher of The Madawaska Valley Current, which identified potential grounds for recovering taxpayer money paid to township lawyers for legal work that, Paul believes, could have been avoided through using Alternative Dispute Resolution; e.g. mediation. He suggested that the township obtain an independent legal opinion about the issues he raised. Photo above: Mayor Kim Love, Councillor Ernie Peplinski
Before that correspondence was discussed, however, CAO Klatt reported on the issue of Councillor Peplinksi’s “unparliamentary behaviour” and alleged death threat against Roger Paul. During Klatt’s report and in the subsequent comments by Mayor Love, criticisms were levelled against the opinion of James Di Fiore published in The Current.
The Mayor then invited Council to comment. Councillor Peplinski reportedly directed his attention to Mr. and Mrs. Paul who were both in the council chambers and made the following statement:
“This is quite a revelation isn’t it. Much to do about nothing. Now that the public knows who’s caused all of this unnecessary expense to the Township, perhaps this is a great time for Mr. Paul and Mrs. Paul to apologize for all the unnecessary expense, the frivolous, the vexatious complaints that have gone nowhere. This would be a great time to offer an apology to the people of this Township. All the hard-earned, the people that work very hard for their money, and to take $50 or $60,000, that I believe was your estimate Mr. Paul, perhaps you should write a cheque along with the apology.”
At the end of this, the Mayor noted that the Councillor should have directed his comments to Council and not to the Pauls.
This was followed by CAO Klatt’s report on the correspondence from Paul regarding the recovery of legal fees. Click HERE to read his letter. She explained how she had consulted the legal firms the municipality retains, the former CAO and former councillors and, having been directed by Council to do so, was making public a legal opinion from the Wishart Law firm of Sudbury. This opinion was provided in response to Paul’s submission in which, based on his many years of legal experience and after consultation with other lawyers, he suggested there may be grounds to investigate recovering some of the lawyers’ fees that MV taxpayers have been burdened with over the last few years.
The Mayor noted that Wishart’s opinion was now a public document and that it would be provided to the public after the meeting. Paul contends the letter from Wishart Law avoided addressing the key legal issues that he identified, but instead attacked his credibility through questioning the public statements he has made about his professional qualifications by making the following statement:
“I have not been successful in finding that Mr. Paul was ever called to the bar or practised law in any province or territory in Canada.”
Paul has responded to this by writing to Wishart sending them documentary evidence proving that he had been properly licenced to practice law in Ontario and had done so for many years. He has asked for a retraction and an apology from the law firm, and the mayor and councillors. Click HERE to read letter.
On the issue of its reporting, The Current disputes several of the Mayor’s statements of fact and has since written to her inviting “Council to step outside the immunity they enjoy” and “set out the full details of their complaints about The Current’s reporting” so it can “conduct a full investigation and respond to each and every point made.” The Current also reminded her that it is a member of the National News Media Council, and that complaints can be filed with that body at https://mediacouncil.ca
At the time of writing, Paul has not received an apology for the public statement about his credentials, although he has received confirmation that the Wishart letter has been removed from circulation. Also The Current has not yet received any complaints from the mayor and council. However, Paul has requested to make a delegation at the council meeting scheduled on September 17 so that he will have the opportunity to respond to Peplinski’s assertions.