Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Haldimand "My Afternoon at the Courthouse"

An update on Resolution #863-07.

Before I get into my day at the Courthouse, The following are some comments that have been made in the past regarding this resolution;

I am really trying hard not to be too "hard" on certain council members, but if you look around "guys" there is a lot of serious issues in Haldimand County! This is not a "Priority" that needs to be passed in a week! "All" members of council and the "Clerks office" and "Karen General" do not have the "right" to scrutinize "ALL" correspondence that comes to the "Mayor Elects Office"! Stick to doing your own "JOBS".

AND WHERAS all e-mail, and hard copy correspondence that is sent to "all" members of "Council", should be in return sent to "all" other members of "council", and the "Mayor’s office", and such "e-mails" and hard copy correspondence be in return "sent" to "all" heads of staff, as this is "critical" to successfully conduct the business of the "Corporation".

I have been to enough council meetings that I can tell you, council was "not happy" that we had involved ourselves with their business. That was made perfectly clear just before lunch when "Mayor Trainer" advised her council that the residents here today were asking to speak to council regarding the resolution on the table. In particular she named Mike Parent, Merlyn Kinrade, and Dave Brown, all residents of Haldimand County.

Then one councilor called for "all of council and staff" to leave the council chambers and carry on their meeting in "another room", that’s right you heard me, they "left us" sitting in the council chambers! Now at this point I felt that the council members were very rude and disrespectful to us. Now one could say that we were defiant as we would not leave chambers and we were in the wrong, but really when I think of it, what was the worst thing that council could have done….well….they….did it……they wouldn’t allow us to speak! So we stood in defiance, and I am proud of what we did!

A lot has been said recently about our rights as citizens to hold our elected officials responsible for their actions. To quote George Orwell from his novel Animal Farm "All animals are created equal but some are more equal than others".

It is fundamentally important that we all remember at all times that our citizens' rights are only valid when the powers that be wish to recognize them as such because you see, without their approval and recognition these so called rights have no authority.

At the same time if I communicate with the Mayor it is because I want to interact with her and not you. The first time you become privy to an email or letter anyone sends privately to the Mayor, the County will be in a position to be sued for invasion of privacy.

I would like to "clarify" a statement that was made by Councillor Sloat to a local newspaper reporter, "he stated that we did not go through the "proper" channels to be heard"! The truth about this was that "council" didn't follow their own procedures here! There was no "motion" prior to this "resolution", the public was not privy to this, actually the Mayor was not even "privy" to what council and staff were up to! So is this how a Council Member tells the "truth" to the public?

Also at the Council in Committee meeting last Wednesday, council excepted Mike Parent’s letter as information. If you are not familiar with this letter, it is posted on my site as "Bold attack on Freedoms". Last night council defeated this vote, so there will be no "official" record of Mike’s letter. So in an essence, council is saying, we don’t "care" what you have to say, or what you think, and we "strike" your comments from the "record"! "Is this a government that is "accountable and transparent"?

Well today I went to the Courthouse in Cayuga, what an experience that was! To put it in a nutshell “I was in the wrong place” to even deal with the issue of this resolution that council passed in August of 2007. I don’t know what I was thinking, when I assumed that all I needed to do was go to see a Justice of the Peace. There is a lesson to be learned here. So make a coffee and enjoy my story if you have the time.

Back in August of 2007, Haldimand County Council passed resolution #863-07; this resolution takes away your right to contact the Mayor of Haldimand County in a private and confidential manner, whether through the means of e-mail or Canada Post. Basically this resolution in my opinion is a direct violation of my privacy rights and maybe even yours.

So according to the Municipal Act, if you believe a bylaw has been passed that is contrary to any other laws you just need to request through the Superior Court of Justice to have the said bylaw quashed. Well much easier said then done.

Here is the section of the Municipal Act that relates to this issue;

Quashing By-laws

272. A by-law passed in good faith under any Act shall not be quashed or open to review in whole or in part by any court because of the unreasonableness or supposed unreasonableness of the by-law. 2001, c. 25, s. 272.

Application to quash by-law

273. (1) Upon the application of any person, the Superior Court of Justice may quash a by-law of a municipality in whole or in part for illegality. 2001, c. 25, s. 273 (1).


(2) In this section,
By-law” includes an order or resolution. 2001, c. 25, s. 273 (2).


(3) If an application to quash alleges a contravention of subsection 90 (3) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, the Superior Court of Justice may direct an inquiry into the alleged contravention to be held before an official examiner or a judge of the court, and the evidence of the witnesses in the inquiry shall be given under oath and shall form part of the evidence in the application to quash. 2001, c. 25, s. 273 (3).

Other cases

(4) The court may direct that nothing shall be done under the by-law until the application is disposed of. 2001, c. 25, s. 273 (4).

(5) An application to quash a by-law in whole or in part, subject to section 415, shall be made within one year after the passing of the by-law. 2001, c. 25, s. 273 (5).
Judicial Investigation

As the Justice of the Peace is only available on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, I finally had the time to put my paperwork in order and do what I had said I would do. Try and start the process to have this bylaw investigated and possibly quashed.

Well I was wrong, not surprised I guess, but very disappointed.

It seems that in order to follow through on this you need to fill out an “Application” to the “Superior Court of Justice”. Now this “Application” is a piece of paper that has a “blue” backing, you may wonder why I even mention this, well it seems that you “cannot” get this “Application” from the Courthouse. This type of paperwork comes from a “Lawyer”.

So here is the process, an application is made, this application costs $181.00, now I don’t know if this is $181.00 x 5 Council Members that voted in favour, or just one charge of $181.00. Of course in order for me to get this information, I need to see a “Lawyer”. Then of course there is the cost of acquiring a Lawyer, getting his/her advice, and paying the Lawyer to proceed on your behalf. Then this application goes to the court and is heard by a Judge. Then I am sure that there are costs in relation to going to court, the calling of witnesses etc………

Now unless someone knows a lawyer that will give advise freely, or someone who has an abundance of extra cash on hand that would like to share, this issue is a dead issue! I cannot do this alone, and there is a time frame of one year to do this through the Court.

So do you think that Haldimand County Councillors already knew this? Do you think that Haldimand County Council believed that this bylaw would be challenged?

So what can we do? Appeal to the Mayor? Appeal to Haldimand County Councillors? Appeal to Municipal Affairs? Well I believe that the answer to all of the above is, well we have already tried that avenue.

It is not often that I am discouraged, in fact I constantly say to people that if you “do nothing”, “nothing” will happen, and yes you do make a difference.

But I must admit that today I am having a hard time believing my own words. I had even thought of deleting my Blog. I can’t help thinking what the hell am I accomplishing here? But at the same time I am not willing to give up. Well maybe my focus should just be…simply…..Informing the public. After all there is an election in 2010, and an informed public is a good voting public!


  1. Excellent read Donna! Well said!

    Maybe the right person will read this and call you with good news on a Lawyer and the money to actually proceed with this.

    This needs to be done. Council will stand up and say. oops we had better not do that again if we can just once make them accountable!

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I sent a letter today to the CAO of Haldimand County. Here is the e-mail;

    Mr. Boyle, I would request at this time that Resolution #863-07 be re-visited. As the Resolution states, the CAO will report back to Council within six months for an update, as this Resolution was passed on August 13th, 2007, we are presently over that time frame.

    I would like to take this time to remind you of the "public" outcry of the the passing of this Resolution.

    Many in the community have felt that their "personal" right to privacy has been invaded.

    It is interesting that in the Recovery Package it mentions how residents of Haldimand and especially Caledonia have been directly affected by the ongoing Native Issues in Haldimand County. I would suggest to you that on a everyday basis, that taking away the "Privacy" of the residents to communicate with "Elected Officials" of Haldimand County are just as important.

    There has been a lot of talk in Haldimand County regarding the "accountability and transparency" of our local government. Quashing this Resolution could help bring back some confidence in our "Elected Officials".

    So I would urge you to help bring back some "Confidence" and Quash this bylaw.

    Donna Pitcher

    I will update you on the response, I also cc this e-mail to all Council Members.