By Rosalind Russell – The former mayor of Elliot Lake Chris Patrie, who was removed from office in January by a court order has lost his appeal to the Ontario Superior Court Divisional Court.
Patrie was found guilty of violating two sections of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act during his previous term as a city councillor but ran in the election and won the seat of Mayor.
Shortly after the election, a judge heard the case finding Patrie guilty of the violations under the Act and imposed a two-year disqualification from city council.
The original violations centred around his lobbying council for building the Hub, a new centre, near property he owns.
Patrie launched the appeal and the city agreed to allow it to be heard before removing him from office with Deputy Mayor Andrew Wannan stepping in as Acting Mayor.
Last Friday, the three-judge panel ruled against Patrie’s eight grounds for appeal.
The judges upheld the disqualification and refused to alter the lower court’s order that Patrie pay more than $89,000 in legal fees to the city’s Integrity Commissioner.
The panel also ordered him to pay an additional $12,000 in legal costs to the Integrity Commissioner.
Council now has the legal status to formally remove him from office, likely early in the New Year.
BACKGROUND: In September 2019, the city’s Integrity Commissioner concluded that then-Councillor Patrie violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by lobbying council and the public to build the Hub on a plot of land across the street from Oakland Plaza, a mall owned by a company, Klover Building Inc., which is owned by Patrie and his wife. The couple also operates The Trading Post at the plaza.
Patrie was also found guilty of intimidating then-Councillor Luc Cyr into abstaining from a council vote, in 2018, to purchase the former site of the Algo Centre Mall as a potential location for the Hub. Since Cyr did not vote, that motion ended in a tie and the purchase was postponed.
The following month, the Integrity Commissioner commenced a court application to determine whether Patrie had indeed contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act — and if so, what the appropriate penalty should be.
The application was heard in August 2021, but the decision by the lower court was not imposed until January 9th, 2023. Patrie had run for mayor the previous October and won the seat.
The Superior Court stated: “In imposing the penalty in this case, the application judge carefully considered the evidence, the aggravating and mitigating factors, and the principles in relation to the duties of members of municipal councils endorsed by the province of Ontario and set out in the MCIA,” the ruling reads. “The application judge made no error in principle and there is no reason to disturb her decision with respect to penalty in this case.”For more information and for the full reasoning behind the judges’ decision, visit: https://www.elliotlake.ca/Modules/News/index.aspx?newsId=22585998-b8f0-49a4-885b-225880f34a4e