Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Friendship (Part 3)

Merely being a friend or business associate of someone can now potentially give rise to an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner resulting in a member of Council being forced to recuse him/herself from being involved in some key matters in Windsor.

It seems that our Mayor seems to support that proposition given his remarks respecting Councillor Jones' friendship with Jean Fox during the CUPE negotiations.

Accordingly, if a Member of Council is in a position where a friend might somehow be involved in a relationship that could give rise to a conflict, it would seem that the Mayor would agree that the Member ought not to be involved. I assume that it includes himself too.

But what are the rules around this? Does the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act apply even though does it not mention "friends?" Is the language broad enough to cover this:
  • "When present at meeting at which matter considered

    5. (1) Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,

    (a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;

    (b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

    (c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question."

I believe that is broad enough to cover the kind of relationships we have been talking about. Let's assume it does. Even if it may not, Edgar and the City Clerk have made it so. Remember this comment from the City Clerk:

  • "Also, while the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act excludes matters that are remote and insignificant, the Mayor has also noted that his spouse is a tenant in a building that Mr. Taqtaq has an interest in."

I am not so sure that I agree with the City Clerk about remoteness and it being insignificant. Moreover, there is another section that is important and is applicable:

  • "3. For the purposes of this Act, the pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, of a parent or the spouse or any child of the member shall, if known to the member, be deemed to be also the pecuniary interest of the member.

I showed you a photo of a building that Collavino's PCR built in a plaza on Dougall:

  • "Constructed two new buildings to house existing and new tenants, and prepared the site for demoliton of the existing structure for construction of an additional building."

The owner of the lands when the buildings were built was a company owned by the Taqtaq family. That Company was an amalgamated company. Mario Collavino was an officer and director of one of the companies amalgamating into the new Company but I do not know his role in the new Company, if any.

A unit in one of the buildings is occupied by the Mayor's spouse, Michelle Prince, where she runs her chiropractic clinic.

How did Ms Prince get there? She left her space on Howard Avenue and moved there.

Here are her new premises and you can tell who the leasing person was too at the Plaza:

Note that Mr. Taqtaq's phone number is that of the Tunnel Duty Free Shop. It is the same phone number as this building right across from the Tunnel that was for rent too that I Blogged about before:

As we can see, Edgar's spouse has an interest in the lands as a tenant. Edgar is deemed to have a "pecuniary interest" in it too.

Do not forget that not only is Edgar the Mayor but the Head of the Windsor Tunnel Commission as well. The Duty Free Shop rents space at the Tunnel from the City.

What do we have but Edgar and Abe Taqtaq being friends, having a business relationship as Landlord/Tenant through Edgar's wife and a relationship at the Tunnel.

What does this all mean? Keep on reading the next Part of my BLOG.