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Ombudsman Clears Emo Council on Closed-Door Meeting

By Randy Thoms Feb 16, 2023 | 12:25 PM

Emo township office, August 2022.

Emo township council has been cleared of any wrongdoing for a closed-door meeting last May.

Emo Council held the meeting on May 28th to discuss what was explained as training related to new budget documents.

Only three of five members attended.

Minutes from the meeting show Mayor Harold McQuaker and Councilors Warren Toles and Harrold Boven attending with Crystal Gray, Interim CAO/Clerk Treasurer and the town’s Public Works Superintendent Jason Smith.

Lincoln Dunn and Lori Ann Shortreed, the other councillors at the time, did not participate.

The Ontario Ombudsman’s Office was asked to investigate after receiving a complaint that the reason behind the closed-door meeting didn’t fall within the requirements under the Municipal Act.

However, its probe found that council did follow the law, and satisfied the requirements of the education and training exception under the Act.

“While the training session met the requirements of the “education and training” exception, it was not a meeting for the purposes of the Act because it did not materially advance council’s business or decision making,” wrote Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube in his report. “This is because the definition of meeting in the Act requires that a quorum of councillors materially advance the business or decision-making of council.10 As the session did not materially advance council business and
was not a meeting, requirements from the Act and the Township’sprocedure by-law did not apply.”

Dube says he found no evidence of any debate on the material presented taking place and no votes were taken.

The Ombudsman did recommend publicly advertising such meetings in the future, even though it is not a requirement.


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