At the Jan.17 Regular Council meeting, the newly-elected Council of Madawaska Valley passed a By-Law to appoint Tony E. Fleming of the firm Cunningham Swan Lawyers as Integrity Commissioner for the Township. Fleming is based in Kingston, where he is the supervising partner in the firm’s Municipal Law group. His expertise in that area has led to his appointment as Integrity Commissioner for more than 50 municipalities. Above: MV Council passes By-Law appointing Integrity Commissioner Fleming at Dec.6 meeting. Photo Youtube/Madawaska Valley.
His appointment followed a unanimous recorded vote by all members of Council after an earlier recommendation from Township CAO Suzanne Klatt. By-Law No. 2023-02 states that Fleming’s term begins February 1, 2023 and will continue for a period of three (3) years, ending on January 31, 2026, and also that the new Integrity Commissioner for MV will be paid at the hourly rate of $295.
The replacement of Fleming’s predecessor, Guy Giorno, will be welcomed by many residents given the latter’s questionable and very lengthy investigations accompanied by his eye-watering fees. Over his term The Current has reported on these concerns as well as the circumstances of his appointment, most recently in James Di Fiore’s article on Nov.28 2022. Click HERE to read.
In addition to Giorno, the Township has dispensed with the services of Peggy Young-Lovelace and her company Expertise for Municipalities (E4m). Given the serious accusations made against her from some municipalities in the province, which The Current has also reported on, this decision is also to be applauded.
These steps mean that the two-tier approach which saw both Giorno and E4m, in effect, splitting between them the duties of an Integrity Commissioner has been abandoned. The new Council should therefore be applauded for its role in implementing this sensible appointment while at the same time purging the Township of individuals who did not appear to take a principled view of their obligations to ratepayers. While on that subject, The Current has asked CAO Klatt whether Wishart Law continues to be retained as the municipality’s lawyers. Wisharts were removed as lawyers for MV and the previous Council in the ongoing litigation after their unsuccessful and costly appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Klatt has not responded to The Current’s question.
The best approach would be to ask the County Council to designate a single integrity commissioner for the whole County and all its constituent municipalities with the various Townships sharing the cost and this would be much cheaper while ensuring competence by the designated commissioner. Wishart Law was strictly a municipal specialist with no expertise in general personal and civil practice and MVT was clearly out of its depth in dealing with them:- a local general civil-practice lawyer would have been much cheaper and quicker for that particular litigation. MVT should ask the County to create a County Solicitor’s office to provide legal guidance to the Townships on a low-cost chargeback basis who would also advise local Townships on finding specialist legal services at reasonable cost whenever needed.