“This is all about democracy, not my election expenses”
Letter to Springwater News from Mayor Bill French
The Compliance Audit Committee reconvened on October 23 to consider two matters according to the legislation.
“In accordance with Section 81(14), the Compliance Audit Committee may consider the following:
(a) if the report concludes that the candidate appears to have contravened a provision of this Act relating to election campaign finances, commence a legal proceeding against the candidate for the apparent contravention;
(b) if the report concludes that the candidate does not appear to have contravened a provision of this Act relating to election campaign finances, make a finding as to whether there were reasonable grounds for the application. 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 8 (44).”
That is what I expected to happen, but it didn’t. To my surprise, solicitor Jack Siegel, acting for McLean, the applicant, challenged the competence and the completeness of the audit and the engagement letter. Grant Thornton LLP is a well qualified firm and when questioned by my solicitor confirmed they have conducted other Compliance Audits. This was not a new exercise or area of expertise for them. Their audit was complete and aside from some minor compliance issues that I noted in my last article and were noted in the Grant Thornton Audit Report, it mirrored the audit that had been conducted by Smith Lassaline from Barrie.
Even though my solicitor Renatta Austin, a close associate of well know lawyer Peter Rosenthal, repeated a number of times that the only purpose of the October 23rd meeting was to consider the matters above, the committee seemed swayed and questioned the Grant Thornton LLP Letter of Engagement and the Compliance Audit Report itself. The Committee has asked for a new firm by issuing an RFP and also requesting a forensic audit, which is not required by legislation. Just so you know, you are paying for these audits, as it is a Township responsibility. The Committee will reconvene within 20 days and appoint another auditor. If you are counting, that will be three audits of my election expenses.
Remember, I am still well under my spending limit by close to 25% after two audits. What is my thinking on the matter? I believe certain parties intend to cause me financial harm by various legal delay tactics. They are hoping I will roll over and play dead and in frustration resign as Mayor. That is not going to happen. I and my team worked far too hard to allow Springwater to finally be governed by people with them first in mind. I do not respond well to intimidation and have seen this type of clever legal maneuvering many times in my career. With the support of many in Springwater, I will be around when this nonsense is over and hopefully some others will be held accountable for this ill-conceived attempt at attacking my character and reputation, causing unnecessary stress on my wife and family along with my pocket book. A number of people who are appalled at this three-ring circus are asking how they can help. I am thinking about that. This is all about democracy, not my election expenses. Most of the electorate chose me to be your Mayor and I plan to honour that trust.
In closing, I thank the many supporters that attended the committee meeting on October 23 and have phoned me with their words of support. It is much appreciated.