Lawyers acting for Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples are asking the BC Supreme Court not to proceed with a petition filed in the court that seeks to oust Staples from the Mayor’s office.
Paul Hildebrand, a lawyer with Lidstone & Company, has served notice on Mark Anderson, a Duncan resident who has been leading the effort to disqualify Staples from office, that they will ask the court to find that the petition as filed is incomplete and does not meet the requirements laid out in the Community Charter.
Mayor Staples’ affidavit says Anderson’s petition does not meet legal requirements because no affidavit supporting the petition was delivered, the petition does not identify the 10 community residents that the Community Charter requires to back the petition and that Mayor Staples had not actually been served with the petition. Her affidavit claimed the petition had been dropped off at Duncan City Hall.
Staples denies the allegations in the petition.
Anderson ran unsuccessfully in the local government elections two years ago.
The petition Anderson filed at the Duncan courthouse alleges Staples used her elected position to benefit herself and partner organizations.
“They are trying to have the Petition dismissed on procedural grounds,” Anderson said in an email about the action from Staples’ lawyer.
The petition alleges there are reasonable grounds to believe that Staples is in a number of conflicts of interest over grant payments and directing grant money to organizations in which she is involved or has an interest.
“She has not declared any conflict of interest in these matters and we are asking for a judicial review of these issues under the Community Charter,” Anderson said.
The petition states that Staples, as well as being mayor of Duncan, also works as the executive director of Social Planning Cowichan and through that position, has received income by way of contracts from the Cowichan Housing Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cowichan Green Community.
It states that as an elected official, Staples sits on the boards of leadership groups and participates on committees, while partnering with Social Planning Cowichan as well as the other listed agencies at the same time.
“Michelle Staples does not declare a conflict or recuse herself from any discussions where she has a direct financial interests in the matter,” the petition says.
“In fact, she leads many of the initiatives and conversations using her elected official status and authority to influence these decisions. We are requesting a judicial review and investigation into the recent grants and funding, obtained though the influence of [Staples] for organizations and agencies in which she has a direct pecuniary interest.”
Partick Hrushowy is a forty-five year veteran of journalism and the communications field and he is the Editor of the Cowichan Post.