The Brudenell Lyndoch Raglan (BLR) Integrity Commissioner, Ms. Peggy Young-Lovelace of the Sudbury consulting firm E4m Solutions Inc., was criticized on April 7th when a resident spoke during a public council meeting. BLR resident Mike McCloskey accused E4m of making false statements, misusing its authority to influence council and ultimately overcharging taxpayers as it conducted investigations without exercising due diligence. Above: company logo — Expertise for Municipalities E4msolutions.com
McCloskey said, “[BLR] council cannot employ, and we as rate payers cannot expect to pay for, an integrity commissioner who is not fully committed to giving factual reports.” He said, “To put it bluntly, this integrity commissioner doesn’t seem to be acting with integrity. And it is an expensive irony.”
McCloskey, a resident of BLR and retired Canadian Forces Officer with over 200 administration investigations to his credit, accused E4m of “problematic behaviour” in each of the three cases it has investigated, and asked that council fire the controversial Integrity Commissioner. He claimed that similar concerns have been identified in other municipalities currently being served by E4m.
He stated that BLR received its first report from E4m in September of 2019. This followed a complaint against members of BLR staff. As The Current has previously reported (Click HERE to read), E4m confirmed that it had no jurisdiction to investigate complaints against staff members, but still proceeded to investigate and charge taxpayers $4,460 for its report which, McCloskey said, “should have been a single page and cost us $125.” When asked by BLR council to explain their bill, E4m responded by issuing the following statement: “It has not been our practice to provide specific detail of activities carried out.” This provoked Councillor John Rutledge to comment, “The whole thing’s a crock.” To which Lidkie answered, “Exactly. And as far as I’m concerned, don’t have her back – for anything. That’s baloney.”
In November 2020, an E4m report was received following a complaint made against Councillor Andrea Budarick almost a year earlier. The accusation was that she had a conflict of interest relating to in camera discussions about the reduction of a fine levelled against her son by the BLR Fire Chief.
Young-Lovelace did not recuse herself from this investigation, despite Councillor Budarick’s strong public criticism about her company’s billing practices and the justification for her fees. E4m has recently launched a Superior Court action against Budarick under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. This, according to some estimates, could end up costing BLR ratepayers as much as $200,000 in legal fees.
“Even the remotest perception of bias is a trigger for a competent authority to recuse themselves from the process entirely and immediately,” said McCloskey. “Again [ratepayers] have to ask whether there was a profit motive at play.”
At the conclusion of McCloskey’s presentation, Councillor Budarick declared a conflict of interest saying she had no idea that her case would be mentioned. “I’m declaring a conflict only because Mike did reference my report and therefore I don’t want to comment.”
McCloskey also accused E4m of making a false statement in its most recent report to BLR Council dated December 28 2020. This arose from the Integrity Commissioner claiming that he (McCloskey) had been present at a Council meeting on 4 September 2019, relying on that to undermine the basis for his complaint. “It is a false statement made up entirely out of whole cloth represented to you and by extension the ratepayers as fact,” said McCloskey to Council.
He said that at his request, BLR staff conducted a review and did not find any evidence to support Young-Lovelace’s assertion.
According to McCloskey this is not the first time E4m has been accused of making false allegations against complainants in their reports. He referenced the case of a resident in the Township of Laurentian Hills who has recently gone public after being accused by E4m of making false statements in an affidavit. That taxpayer also claimed that Young-Lovelace made these untruthful allegations about him without giving him an opportunity to respond before making her report public. “This is not a ‘one off.’ Defamatory reports without giving people the opportunity to respond.”
Following McCloskey’s presentation, Mayor Sheldon Kellar responded, “Okay, so thanks for your deputation, Mike. I mean Council will kind of have to absorb what you said and we’ll think about your request.”