The president of the Ward 3 residents’ association filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner this week over a recent meeting four councillors had with the president of the Edmonton Oilers.
“Councillors in the past have held closed door meetings,” said Paul Tetley, a resident of Ward 3. “Meetings must be open, minutes taken. This past election proved this is not business as usual.”
Councillors Terry Whitehead, Lloyd Ferguson, Jason Farr, and Robert Pasuta were discovered to have met last month for breakfast with Pat LaForge, who is also chief executive officer of the Oilers.
The councillors characterized the meeting as a “social” session, stating they discussed the stadium issue, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the NHL, but nothing substantial. Whitehead, who sat on the committee that drafted the Integrity Commissioner bylaw, stated the meeting was an “informal discussion” amounting to “small talk.”
Whitehead did ask LaForge, who is also with Katz Entertainment Group, if it would bid to take over the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc., which the city owns. Whitehead stated LaForge said the group would “consider it.”
Councillors defended their actions, arguing they did not violate the Municipal Act and that as politicians they meet with constituents, business leaders, and other members of the public all the time.
City clerk Rose Caterini said, after reviewing the meeting, technically the councillors did not do anything wrong. Whitehead, Ferguson, and Farr are members of the city’s NHL sub-committee. Duvall, the other member of the subcommittee, didn’t attend the meeting.
But Caterini pointed out the subcommittee has yet to hold a meeting this term. She agreed that a quorum of that same sub-committee did hold a meeting that the public wasn’t involved in.
Tetley, who ran as a candidate against incumbent Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli in the last municipal election, argues the politicians violated the Municipal Act. He said it was a business meeting organized by the councillors, and therefore, should be considered a formalized meeting.
“The senior councillors brought along Farr to introduce him to the NHL issue,” said Tetley. “For the benefit of the electorate, the meeting should have been open to the public.”
As required under the city’s Integrity Commissioner bylaw, Tetley submitted his affidavit, plus paid the $100 fee Feb. 2 at city hall. He has also talked to the city’s integrity commissioner, Earl Basse, about the issue.
“I certainly hope (the investigation) will be conducted fair,” he said.
Possible penalties that could be provided by the commissioner if he finds the politicians had violated the act, including censure, and loss of pay.