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Integrity commish exonerates Bill Gordon after CAO's complaint

'It is truly unfortunate that our CAO has chosen to take an adversarial approach with me since day one,' Midland councillor says of David Denault, who notes he lodged complaint due to Gordon's MBL-related actions

An integrity commission’s report into Coun. Bill Gordon has determined he did nothing wrong by suggesting any decision on Midland Bay Landing be deferred to the next council.

Filed by CAO David Denault, the complaint sought to have Gordon disciplined for planning to table a notice of motion in the first place and asked the integrity commissioner to interview  himself, Mayor Stewart Strathearn, Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation (MBLDC) board chair Bill Kernohan and Gordon as part of the process.

“It is truly unfortunate that our CAO has chosen to take an adversarial approach with me since day one,” Gordon told MidlandToday.

“I maintain and it has been clearly upheld by the integrity commissioners, that I have a right to set agenda items and to table a motion to defer any item I choose at any point in the process if I have a seconder.

“The fact that the CAO does not share my concerns with the MBL development proposal is irrelevant to me and, as I have communicated to him on many occasions, he will have the opportunity to make his thoughts clear to us during the process and not instead of the process.”

The complaint traces its roots back to April when Gordon planned to add a notice of motion to the council agenda seeking the aforementioned deferment.

Gordon had wanted to hit the pause button on the Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation as it had started a request for proposals (RFP) process on the controversial waterfront area, stating that the future of the property would be an election issue.

And while he ended up withdrawing his notice of motion prior to the council meeting, the complaint was subsequently lodged with Principles Integrity.

In an email to Principles Integrity obtained by MidlandToday, Denault asks that Gordon be investigated for contravening council’s Code of Conduct.

“Furthermore, his actions are potentially jeopardizing a decision of council with regards to a multi-million dollar procurement being coordinated by the Midland Bay Landing Corporation on behalf of council,” Denault wrote.

“Comments from the board chair (Kernohan) are attached as is the request from me to councillor Gordon to suspend his activity.”

When asked about the complaint by MidlandToday, Denault said his preference has always been to work with “individuals” on matters that he feels are not in the best interest of the town or council.

“This matter was no different and attempts were made to make the councillor aware of the concerns and risks and I indicated the motion he was proposing wasn’t the issue,” Denault responded in an email.

“Anyone can raise a concern with the Integrity Commissioner, however, it is the only time I have felt compelled to use it and certainly not my preference.”

In its report, the integrity commissioner noted that while Gordon’s actions were “problematic and clearly intended to interrupt and interfere with council proceeding with a decision on selection of a preferred developer for the Midland Bay Landing development,” he did not contravene the Code of Conduct.

"While the councillor may not attack or undermine the MBLDC’s mandate – a mandate  which is clearly articulated in the MBLDC agreement - he may advocate and lobby in relation to other matters not yet decided by council," the report states. "Timing of approval by council of the  MLB-selected developer would be one such matter."

For his part, Gordon said the commissioner's report also points out that there are no timelines to award the RFP nor does this council have to choose any of the developers who apply.

"This is not the narrative that is being spun to council by the CAO, Mayor and MBLDC," Gordon said, pointing out he now plans to re-table the motion, a move he says doesn't attempt to undermine the RFP process, but instead seeks to pause the next step, “which could see this council bind the town to a developer presented by the MBLDC instead of passing that decision to the next council in a few short months.”

Gordon noted that the integrity commissioner’s report clearly shows that there are no set timelines or defined outcomes when it comes to Midland Bay Landing.

“This revelation clearly upsets the CAO and the MBLDC chair,” he said. “Advancing more unfounded complaints against me, whether to the OPP or the Integrity Commissioner only shows how desperate some of this town administration, council and their board members are to silence a voice of dissent.”

“If I am returned to office as mayor this fall, changes to this toxic leadership culture will become a priority for me. All I ask is that if the good citizens of Midland choose to send me back, please send me some help.”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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