Friday, August 10, 2007

Haldimand "Bold Attack on Freedoms"

The following is a letter written by Mike Parent of Caledonia. Mike was present at both council meetings this week, and will be there again on Monday August 13th, 2007 at 6:00pm, your support is needed!

I felt that Mike's comments were too important to be just posted as a comment at the bottom of my article. So I called Mike and asked his permission to post this as a main article. The following letter has already been sent to The Mayor and all Councillors of Haldimand County.

Thanks Mike!

Dear Mayor Trainer and Councillors:

This latest attempt to disrupt the functionality of the “Office of the Mayor” with a poorly thought out plan to re-address the Mayor’s correspondence leaves me very disturbed as so many people were involved in a concerted effort at a “backdoor” endeavor.

My concerns are that the proposed motion of redistributing the Mayor’s correspondence is clearly and undeniably an effort to be disruptive. Councillors and staff have “taken the law onto themselves” by challenging:

A recognized legal and established process of handling The Queen’s Mail and Electronic Mail

Democratic Rights of Unelected Civilians

The Right to be Heard

Invasion of Privacy

Federal Privacy Laws

Provincial Statutes - Protection of Individual Rights

Canada Post Regulations - Mail Tampering

The Right to Confidentiality

The Department of Justice Criminal Code - Invasion of Privacy

The Municipal Act - Responsibilities

I take this opportunity to highlight issues that may have gone un-noticed or issues that have failed to be addressed, namely as they apply to Councillors, to Staff and to the Mayor.


The individual Councillors responsible for proposing to put this motion forward are acting in a “self appointed” mode under the false impression that Councillors may take the law into their own hands and do with it as they please! Regretfully, this proposal goes beyond the Office of the Mayor and beyond the issue of redistributing the correspondence sent to or from the Mayor.

The proposed motion touches on basic democratic rights. Such basic democratic rights have been addressed in countless litigation cases. Accordingly, the Justice System has clearly dealt with the issue of democratic rights. Legal decisions are the cornerstone of the legal system and are reflected in the disciplines articulated throughout Canadian Law.

The proposal put forward is an attack and an invasion of my basic beliefs and basic values while it attacks democracy and everything that’s cherished in any democratic society. As a concerned citizen, my moral values won’t allow me to idly sit by and let such a contravention of generally accepted ethics deteriorate without taking a stand to protect myself and others from immoral and unethical practices that are both illegal and in contempt of Federal Laws and Provincial Statutes. There’s a time when one must exercise their power of objection and this is the very time to do it.

The actions of the Councillors are a bold attack on freedoms we’ve come to expect in Canada. None of us can allow that to happen. We have an army of men and women who put their lives on the line regularly to protect similar democratic rights of others in third world countries. Why then is democracy under attack in our own Council Chambers?

My efforts are to convince Councillors that this is a poorly conceived plan, it’s illegal and if the motion is put in place as a by-law or directive policy that forces certain staff individuals to commit illegal acts, these same staff members will find themselves party to committing the illegal acts. History shows that “following orders” is not an excuse under any circumstances when they (staff members) know that they’ve schemed a process and when they’re party to the execution of such a process.

Canada Post has an opinion directed at mail tampering. As recently as November 5, 2003, Mr. John Caines, Manager, National Media Relations of Canada Post in Ottawa (613 734-7675) wrote an article clearly stating that mail in Canada is secure and tampering of any kind is a criminal offence.

I strongly suspect that Councillors have not delved deeply enough or investigated the process completely before attempting to put it in place. The very fact that prudence is being recommended twice now by knowledgeable people should serve as a severe reminder that moving forward with this proposal is self defeating and opens the door for a slippery slope to litigation issues.

Individuals will report this process and “others” (the legal system) will take it from there. Are Councillors ready for the legal contentions here and are Councillors prepared to accept the legal consequences of breaking and knowingly flouting the law?

Councillors are advised that there are severe consequences to breaking the law, there are severe consequences to privacy invasion and there are severe consequences to ignoring basic democratic rights.

Staff Members

In addition to all of the Councillors, there’s a whole administrative bureaucracy that knew about this proposal. These are bureaucrats who would probably prefer not to be involved, but they are involved, they participated and they knew (or ought to have known) that such a motion could be disastrous to the organization as a whole and that it would undermine existing legalities as articulated in municipal, provincial and federal policies.

Besides breaking the law, these employees have committed acts of disrespect to the Mayor, acts of grandeur to the taxpayers that pay their salaries, and they’ve basically ignored the policy of honesty and ethical conduct towards their employer. In general business terms, this would call for severe reprimands and immediate dismissal for blatantly participating in a flawed process aimed at disruption and aimed at encouraging the execution of illegal acts.

I recommend to Mayor Marie Trainer to demand an investigation into the issue of staff participation in the development of the planned motion and that those found to be party to such be promptly removed from their position of authority. Taxpayers of this county cannot afford to be at the mercy of bureaucrats that have the misconception that they are “protected” while they attack the very system and the very tax payers who keep them employed.

If the investigation reveals that no hired or contracted employee knew about this proposal, then they’re all off the hook… but that’s a BIG IF…

The Mayor

Mayor Trainer has the ability to deal with her correspondence in the manner she determines to be suitable for her office. She‘s the exclusive and authoritative voice to determine who will open her correspondence, who will get a copy of the documentation, and what she’ll say in any response and again she’s responsible for determining who will be privy to such responses either electronically or by Queen’s Mail.

It’s her right to privacy, it’s her right to manage any literature directed at her, and it’s her right to say whatever she wants to say without being accountable to Councillors or to Staff. As Chief Executive Officer, she also has a number of other rights. I strongly encourage the Mayor to take steps to protect these rights such that future “back door” efforts to undermine these rights will be ended and addressed in a severe fashion, be it that such efforts could come from Staff or Councillors or a combination. We cannot and should not tolerate efforts to dismantle in whole or in part the Office of the Mayor, nor should we tolerate the Councillors that support such motions.

A simple examination of the duties of any CEO will reveal that such a person must be able to function independently without interference from others. In terms of reporting, the CEO is the topmost senior person and management reporting in any organization is on an upward scale. In other words, the CEO of The Corporation of Haldimand County does not report to Staff, the CEO does not report to Councillors unless inclined to do so and that’s that!

The moment that the Town of Haldimand became The Corporation of Haldimand County, the newly formed enterprise became an entity subject to a whole new set of business rules, including the general business rules that apply to every Chief Executive Officer.

It has to be noted that keeping Councillors informed of situations requiring their assistance or interference is an issue that Mayor Trainer has been able to accomplish without this “burr” that would at best only confuse the issues at hand and issues under consideration.


In conclusion, we already know that this issue boils down to technicalities. We are fully aware that previous cases have been successfully challenged with the results being in preference to the written laws and we’re also aware that the Federal and Provincial Laws cannot be rewritten at the municipal level. To change such laws, I encourage Councillors to contact their MPPs or their MPs directly.

We are prepared to pursue our end by securing legal representation with regards to our democratic rights and privacy invasion. This kind of “single handed” manipulation of our civil liberties cannot and will not be tolerated. Privacy laws are in place to protect the privacy of individuals. The Charter of Rights is there to protect democracy and to protect citizens from such outrageous interference as proposed by the Councillors.


Mike Parent
Caledonia ON


  1. Mayor Trainer needs your help!

    All citizens concerned with councils un-democratic attack on Mayor Trainer's privacy, authority and relationship with her constituents need to show support by attending the council meeting this Monday, Aug 13 at 6pm.

    I will be there; after all, if they can do this to your mayor, they can do it to mine.

    Hope to see you there.

    Mark Vandermaas, Editor

  2. Mike, and Donna, I hope to be there Monday night. And I hope that the room is full.


  3. Very well put Mike. I'm not a fan of the Mayors, but we must respect the system.

    Madam Mayor, as the CEO of this corporation, should dissolve this dysfunctional council based on its demonstrated willingness to violate fundamental Canadian law, and its inability to focus on its primary mission of serving Haldimand county.

    She should then install an interim council and call for an election to be held sometime after the provincial election.

    She will get a vote of confidence, or be voted out. Councilors will who cannot disassociate themselves from this fiasco will also be voted out.

    This will also serve to provide another platform to voice public dissent towards an ineffective provincial government until the election.


  4. Thanks for the comment Jerry. Mike cannot respond to the comments, but he is monitoring this article.

    The law does not allow the mayor to do what you have suggested, and for good reasons.

    There is however information in the Municipal Act regarding this, but I am just not sure of all the details. I did read it once, I do recall something being said about the high percentage of voters that are needed for a vote of non-confidence.

  5. Welcome to the "new" democracy and the "new" freedom in McGintyville.

    In the new democracy we se a top down system where personal and partisan agendas take precedence over the public will. When the public catches elected officials carrying out an agenda counter to their wishes or the constitution the official just smile and say they were not guilty and continue on doing it anyway.

    The "new" Democracy dovetails with the "new" civil ethics of politicians which holds that you can do anything you can get away with and the higher the office the more you can get away with.