April 17, 2019 – All Charges Withdrawn
I am pleased we were able to finally resolve this matter. I think the withdrawal of all charges says it all and is in the best interest of justice.
From day one, I acknowledged there were some minor errors and omissions in my 2014 Election filing. I still firmly believe the Compliance Audit Committee erred in approving the Compliance Audit in the first place as the nature of my minor filing errors did not warrant it. The costs to the Township is well in excess of $310,000 today. I expect that when all the bills are paid it will be much more. Just think of what could have been done with that wasted taxpayer money.
To my surprise, certain actors inside and outside the Township were able to use the Municipal Election Act as a weapon and succeeded in having me defeated in the 2018 election by 82 votes which was their ultimate goal.
Most people know I do not dwell much on the past. Going forward, I plan to be a loud voice for the people of Springwater as I have been for the last 15 years. I enjoyed my term as Mayor and I am very proud of the initiatives we were able to launch in that 4 year time frame. The last council under my leadership set a clear vision and foundation for the future.
My wife and I have supported the Elmvale and District Food Bank in recent years. Lorraine hosted an afternoon tea during the 150th Anniversary in 2017 and raised over $1,000 for the cause. Lorraine has also donated gift cards to the Food Bank at Christmas, so it is appropriate that to bring this matter to an end, that the Elmvale and District Food Bank be the recipient of my $2,000 donation as a gesture of my goodwill.
And since I purposely asked for God’s blessing on everyone at the many functions I attended as Mayor, I today also thank God for staying close to me, my family and friends and giving us comfort through what can only be considered a very interesting journey.
The 10 charges against Mr. French were based on failure to declare two in-kind contributions and some borrowed used stakes, and acceptance of four cash contributions (that were declared). Total dollar value, as reported by the Auditor compared to the original filing, involved in these apparent non-compliances with the Municipal Elections Act is $1,091.00, of which $500 at issue in 1, 2, and 3 is being contested (see Note Below).
Municipal Election Act Charges
1. “Fail to ensure that a contribution of goods and services given to and accepted by or on behalf of his election campaign, specifically the contribution by Fringe Media, was valued in the manner prescribed.” This relates to an in-kind contribution from Fringe Media of $500.
2. “Fail to ensure that records were kept of the full value of the contribution and related expense of goods and services received from Fringe Media.” This relates to the same in-kind contribution from Fringe Media of $500.
3. “Fail to file with the Clerk of the Township of Springwater a financial statement and auditors report … that correctly reflected his election campaign expenses, specifically by failing to report all contributions received and expressed incurred in the form of goods and services received from Fringe Media.” This relates to the same in-kind contribution from Fringe Media of $500.
Note: In respect of these first three charges, the Municipal Elections Act Subsection 88.15 (4) 1 and 2) specifically provides that voluntary unpaid labour is NOT a contribution, such that there is a legal authority not to have to report such “charges”: a previous court decision in Lyras v Heaps (2008) applied the previous version of this provision specifically to website design and maintenance done by a professional.
4. “Fail to ensure that proper direction was given to persons authorized to incur expenses and accept or solicit contributions on his behalf, specifically his campaign manager Lorraine French.”
5. “Not file with the Clerk of the Township of Springwater a financial statement and auditors report … that correctly reflected his election campaign expenses, specifically by failing to report as a campaign expense services provided by Miller, Ink. Illustration Design.” This related to a misplaced invoice for $300.00 plus HST discovered by Bill French during the first audit.
6. “Fail to ensure that receipts were issued for every contribution, specifically for an in-kind donation from Genesis 2 Inc.” This related to an in-kind contribution reported on the financial statement of hats and signs valued at $250.
7. “Fail to ensure that a contribution of goods and services given to and accepted by or on behalf of his election campaign, specifically the in-kind contribution of 300 rental sign stakes, was valued in the manner prescribed.” This relates to borrowed used stakes estimated at $93.75 to $131.25, which were returned to the two lenders after the election campaign.
8. “Not file with the Clerk of the Township of Springwater a financial statement and auditors report … that correctly reflected his election campaign expenses, specifically by failing to report as a campaign expense the value of goods for the in-kind contribution of 300 rental sign stakes.” This relates to the same borrowed used stakes estimated at $93.75 to $131.25.
9. “Fail to ensure that contributions of money in cash that exceeded $25 were not made to or accepted on behalf of him.” This relates to four cash donations totalling $300 that were declared in the financial statement (photocopies of the actual banknotes were filed with the financial statement).
10. “Fail to ensure that all payments for expenses were made from the campaign account.” Some payments for expenses (correctly declared in the financial statement) were made by credit card by the Campaign Financial Officer, which is permitted, but the credit card payments should have been reimbursed to the Campaign Financial Officer as they occurred, on an ongoing basis, from the campaign account.