Town Exposed to Litigation for Failing to Provide Due Process
Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Unlawful procedural and substantive fairness concerns raised after staff refuse to allow councillor to file response to Integrity Commissioner report or to make reply submissions
Today Councillor Douglas W. Judson made the following statement:
"Town of Fort Frances' municipal staff told me this afternoon - one business day before the Integrity Commissioner's presentation to Council recommending sanctions against me - that, in their view, I am not entitled to make reply submissions to the Integrity Commissioner's report, or to have my written submissions filed with Council.
"Staff have also stated that the only discussion allowed will be on the Commissioner's process - not the substance of his report or his findings - i.e., to question his findings of fact, weighing of evidence, or significant legal errors.
"Staff's interpretation of policy is contrary to express and specific procedural and substantive rights set out in the Procedural By-Law, the Code of Conduct and its accompanying Inquiry Protocol, the Municipal Act, 2001, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and the common law.
"Staff and Council have also been advised for weeks that I intended to have legal counsel make submissions. The inquiry itself has been over 10 months long, and this view of procedure was never presented to me. Their late notice itself is highly prejudicial.
"When it receives the Commissioner's report on Monday, Council will be sitting as a quasi-judicial body. As such, elevated norms of procedural and substantive fairness apply. Council is the 'judge', and the Commissioner and I are the parties. Council must prevent abuses of its process and miscarriages of procedural and substantive fairness when it adjudicates this proceeding.
"These responsibilities fall to the Chair, as the presiding officer. As I have yet to receive any assurance that my procedural rights will be respected, I have threatened further legal action if the position of staff is not corrected immediately.
"This process has been replete with procedural concerns from the outset, over 10 months ago. The initial Integrity Commissioner had to recuse himself due to material concerns of bias. Now that the process is concluded, the municipality appears to be conspiring with his replacement not to hear my submissions and to avoid any discussion of the anti-racism positions I have taken which are being sanctioned.
"Systemic racism in Fort Frances is looking more and more like an orchestrated effort to silence and punish those who stand up to racism and inequity itself. These anti-democratic measures and failures to extend basic procedural fairness are all subject to judicial review. They should be highly disturbing to all citizens and municipal officials."
The meeting of the Committee of the Whole where the Commissioner's report is considered will take place virtually on October 25, 2021 at 5:30 PM (Central Time).
Councillor Judson is represented by Asher Honickman of the law firm Jordan Honickman.
On October 20, 2021, Councillor Judson issued a statement setting out his position on the Commissioner's findings. It is available here.
Douglas W. Judson
Councillor, Town of Fort Frances