The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act provides that an elected official shall declare a conflict of interest (which means anything in which they might have a financial interest) as it relates to themselves, their spouse, child, parent or a business partner or employer and the elected official then is not to vote, take part in the discussion of the matter before or after or to influence the vote in any way.
The Deputy Mayor of Shelburne, “a boyishly handsome 41-year-old”, has made a point at County Council to declare a pecuniary interest at the Council table about the Highlands acquisition of the County owned rail bed because his sister owns a property near the rail line. The Act would not seem to provide for that declaration.
And yet, from 2006, when the issue of the World Junior Hockey League (aka Russian Hockey team) was first mentioned in the Centre Dufferin Recreation Committee minutes, which at that time the Deputy Mayor was a member, there was no declaration of interest declared by the Deputy Mayor.
This despite a December 4, 2010 Toronto Star article that indicated that “I thought people in town would be supportive of such a unique experience,” says Ken Bennington, Owen's father, deputy mayor and the man who helped land the Red Wings. He goes on the state he knew “we were operating outside the rules. “
In fact, the Deputy Mayor then moved to position of Chair of the CDRC in 2008 and was involved in negotiating a contract between the arena and the Russian Hockey team (see minutes dated January & February 2010).
Where is a copy of this agreement? It is after all, public information.
So to recap, he helped land the team, he is listed on the Shelburne Red Wings website as the Associate General Manager (is this a paid position) and he boards 3 russian players at $1,500.00 a month in his home, a CLEAR financial interest in this team, but declared no conflict of interest from January 2006, until June 23, 2010 after the deal was signed, sealed and delivered.
And even more interesting, the Mayor of Shelburne, who is busy putting out fires on behalf of the Deputy Mayor, is one of three sponsors shown on the Red Wings website. Does this mean he too stands to gain financially if the Red Wings do well in a facility in which the team plays that is newly renovated using tax dollars, who have been allotted prime ice time on Friday nights, despite the fact that the Shelburne Muskies asked for this time a few years ago but were denied? I don't know, that would be for a judge to decide.
And don’t forget, this is the same Deputy Mayor who was on Council when they decided their own residents would be limited to a 2 bag limit per week in garbage, but felt his family couldn’t abide by those rules and he was caught red handed at a neighbouring landfill site disposing of his garbage. Of course the politicians of the day (all of which except one are still in power today) did their basic cover up to help one of their own and this issue was never made public.
Wonder why? Well, it is because when incumbents are elected year after year, they get a sense of entitlement and each politician, in my opinion, works to protect their colleagues from what they perceive as negative and unfair criticism, hoping upon hope their colleagues will come to their defence when necessary, or perhaps help them out on pet projects. So far it seems to be working.
On the other hand, if someone isn’t going to act as the political watchdog, this type of nonsense just keeps going on and on.