When you’re serious about suing someone, you normally have to serve notice of court action on the respondent. When it’s more of a publicity stunt, intended to distract public attention from something else, you might provide advance notice of the lawsuit to the media. It is unheard of, however, to have a newspaper serve notice for you. Yet, that’s pretty close to what happened yesterday in Caledon.
At 8:24 am, July 22, 2015, Toronto Star reporter San Grewal sent an email to Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, asking him to comment on a lawsuit being brought against him. Attached to the email was a notice of court action against the mayor. What is surprising is that Mayor Thompson had not been served with any notice of action – and, in fact, still hasn’t been served.
“I sent (you a request) to comment yesterday on conflict of interest allegations that have been filed against (you) in court. I am attaching the two separate public court documents that anyone is allowed to obtain from the court.” – Email from San Grewal, Toronto Star, July 22, 2015 8:24 AM.
FACT: Mayor Thompson received a copy of the court filing from the Toronto Star before he was served with the documents. As of this writing, he still hasn’t been served.
FACT: The court action against the Mayor is baseless and unfounded in fact.
You may find it unusual that a newspaper would receive court documents about a lawsuit even before the respondent receives them. But then, you may also find the following pattern of events to be unusual.
FACT: Caledon’s planning process is open, transparent, accountable and complies with all Ontario and Peel region laws and regulations.
FACT: Mayor Thompson has no conflict of interest and never has.
A pattern of events is emerging…
Judge for yourself, based on facts, not fiction…
June 10, 2015: San Grewal writes in the Toronto Star:
“… group is raising questions about whether or not a councillor and the town’s mayor were in a conflict of interest during a recent council meeting that dealt with a proposed development site.
“Councillor Gord McClure owns land on the site, and sale documents dated days after the meeting show Mayor Allan Thompson sold land to a developer adjacent to the site.” – Toronto Star June 10, 2015.
“The issue involves 2,000 acres of farm land called the ALLOA development site. A delegation to town council was made April 14 by a real-estate representative asking councillors to approve a future highway corridor that would keep ALLOA open for development. Both Thompson and McClure attended the meeting. Neither declared a pecuniary interest at the start of the meeting. Council then voted to direct staff to consult with the development group and revisit options for the highway corridor.” – Toronto Star June 10, 2015.
June 24, 2015: San Grewal repeated the same unsubstantiated smear against the mayor in the Toronto Star and adds a quote from Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish. Notice how what the Toronto Star called “questions” have become “allegations:”
“Allegations of a conflict of interest in a recent $9.4-million property sale to a developer by Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson were thrown at him two weeks ago and questions were raised about how the town is making land use decisions that will affect the entire GTA.”
“If they’re afraid that facilitation is going to lead to revelations like Allan Thompson selling his farm to a developer, is that what they’re concerned about?” – Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish, quoted by Grewal in the Toronto Star, June 24, 2015.
“Thompson has been accused of being in a conflict of interest by regional councillors andlocal residents after The Star revealed he sold his land to Primont Homes, a Mayfield West home builder, earlier this year for $9.4 million.” – Mathew Strader, Caledon Enterprise.
We don’t know who these accusers are, because Strader doesn’t name them. No one before has been quoted, even anonymously, as making accusations. What began as “questions” from a local community group, and speculation about “revelations” by Councillor Parrish have now somehow transformed into anonymous “accusations” of conflict of interest.
Also June 25, 2015: Yet more newspapers owned by (you guessed it) the Toronto Star print the same set of unsubstantiated smears. They’re back to “allegations” now, but apparently, they’re “swirling:”
“Allegations of a conflict of interest in a recent $9.4-million property sale to a developer by Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson were thrown at him two weeks ago…” – Brampton Guardian June 25, 2015.
“With allegations of a conflict in a $9.4-million land deal swirling against Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson…” – Metro News June 25, 2015.
June 30, 2015: The Caledon Enterprise repeats the smear again, now linking it more closely to Councillor Carolyn Parrish as an “allusion:”
“Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish alluded to Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson being in a conflict when it comes to making votes on where population and development should go in Caledon when she asked about the recent sale of his farm.” – Caledon Enterprise, June 30, 2015.
And, again on July 9, 2015 when anonymous “colleagues” reappear:
“Asked about the accusations being made by her colleagues, Mississauga councillor Carolyn Parrish, who tabled the second motion asking for facilitation, and openly questioned the sale of Mayor Allan Thompson’s land to a home developer from Mayfield West… ” – Caledon Enterprise, July 9, 2015.
It’s almost as if there is an orchestrated smear campaign aimed at tarring Mayor Allan Thompson with unsubstantiated allegations in order to distract your attention from a calculated attempt to thwart Caledon’s planning process.
Enough Fiction. Time for some facts
FACT: Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson has been very clear, repeatedly stating he has no conflict of interest involving the land previously owned jointly by him and members of his family.
FACT: Thompson’s land is not even in or near the ALLOA site. The allegations centre on the disposition of the ALLOA lands which the Toronto Star has said are “adjacent” to the Thompson family’s land. This is false. The Thompson family sold 100 acres of farmland that is nowhere near the ALLOA site. In fact, there are 1,000 acres between the Thompson land and the ALLOA land. Mayor Thompson has no pecuniary interest in the ALLOA lands and, therefore, no conflict of interest is even possible.
July 9, 2015
Caledon asks Court to Quash Peel Region Decision
The Town of Caledon is today applying to the Superior Court of Justice to quash Region of Peel Resolution 2015-83. This resolution, adopted at Regional Council on June 25, 2015, directs Regional staff to enter into negotiations to expand the boundary of Caledon industrial lands to include a residential development. Caledon’s representatives on Regional Council voted unanimously against the resolution.
The quashing or repealing of the Region of Peel resolution is being sought because the direction in the resolution is beyond the Region’s authority and is therefore illegal. Its adoption also contravened the Region’s Procedural By-law.
“The Town of Caledon went through an open, transparent and accountable planning process to decide on new land for development,” said Mayor Allan Thompson. “To have Regional Council set aside that public process and decide they know better, without any land use evaluations, without any staff reports, without even following their own rules or Ontario’s laws, is simply wrong.”
“They’ve turned an open public process into a dirty game of back-room bait and switch,” said Thompson. “Caledon will not be part of it. Our residents deserve better.”
On June 25, 2015, Peel Region Council adopted Resolution 2015-83 that violates the Planning Act, the Places to Grow Act and its own Procedural By-law:
- it requires action that avoids the public and technical processes required under the Planning Act;
- it does not conform to the Region of Peel Official Plan or the Provincial Growth Plan as required under the Places to Grow Act; and
- it did not achieve the two-thirds majority required by the Region’s Procedural By-law.
“The people of my Ward and the Town of Caledon, participated in an open public process,” said Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis. “Now, one lone wolf developer complains and Regional Council wants to take the discussion into a back-room for secret discussions? No way.”
June 29, 2015
Town of Caledon Council stands united for fair and transparent planning in the Region of Peel Town of Caledon Council stood united in defence of the Town’s Official Plan and fair and transparent public consultation at Peel Regional Council on June 25, 2015. Town of Caledon Regional Council members voted unanimously to avoid unnecessary Provincial Facilitation following a Special Meeting of Council on Tuesday, June 25, 2015, where the majority of residents clearly supported this action. “More than a dozen landowners and developers and numerous community stakeholders have participated in every aspect of a lengthy public planning process for the lands in question here and with one exception, they are all satisfied it was conducted properly,” said Mayor Thompson. “We have one developer, a lone wolf, who seems to feel his financial interests should take precedence over the community’s interest, input and good planning. The motion before Regional Council yesterday was a blatant attempt to set aside the guiding principles of the Peel Official Plan and interfere in the local planning process. This is not in the best interests of the people of Caledon. And it does not serve the interests of the Region of Peel.” “It’s hard to understand why a Mississauga Councillor would set aside years of precedent to impose on a local municipality a negotiation process that would benefit one lone wolf developer,” said Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis. Caledon remains committed to an open, transparent and accountable public planning process for land development.