Orillia Council approved $65,000 to fund the defence of the Notice of Application for Judicial Review filed by Ward 3 Coun. Jay Fallis against the City of Orillia and Principles Integrity, the City’s Integrity Commissioner.
Coun. Fallis was found to be in breach of Council’s Code of Conduct when he shared confidential documents with more than one lawyer without Council’s authority. Following a detailed investigation and thorough report from Principles Integrity, Council unanimously decided to follow the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner, which included a suspension of pay for a period of 45 days.
Coun. Fallis was advised by the Integrity Commissioner that there was “no ethical concern in seeking his own legal counsel” but was advised that sharing of any confidential information would likely result in a breach of Council’s Code of Conduct (Paragraph 62 of the Principles Integrity Recommendation Report – page 49 of the Council agenda).
“Coun. Fallis was found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct because he arbitrarily shared confidential documents with two lawyers without any authority to do so, not because he sought legal advice. Any councillor can seek their own independent legal advice. Where the line is drawn is sharing clearly stamped confidential documents with outside parties, even external legal counsel,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.
The City intends to defend against the Notice of Application for Judicial Review as it undermines fundamental principles of law (section 223.2 of the Municipal Act) and governance (Council Code of Conduct and Council’s Legal Privilege). As the matter is now before the Divisional Court, the City will be unable to provide further comment.
A Judicial Review is a process by which courts make sure that the decisions of administrative bodies are fair, reasonable, and lawful. The Divisional Court hears applications for judicial review of decisions of administrative bodies in Ontario by virtue of s. 6(1) of the Judicial Review Procedure Act, R.S.O 1990, c J.1.
In an application for judicial review, a party asks a three-judge panel of the Divisional Court to change or set aside a decision of an administrative body where the party can show an error was made that warrants action by the Court. Judicial review is not an opportunity to re-argue the case, but rather to show that the decision-maker failed to properly exercise its decision-making powers.