THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
Pages of Special Interest;
* Hazel McCallion - Mayor of Mississauga *
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City Magazine Vol. 3, No. 3 - Feb. 1978 - By Desmond Morton.
To anyone with even a modestly developed interest in politics, recent events in Mississauga, the sprawling suburban community to the west of Metro Toronto, might seem puzzling. They revolve around a judicial inquiry launched by unanimous resolution of the local council to investigate municipal government in the community.
A tangle of charges, counter-charges, judicial decisions and exchanges at Ontario's Queen's Park lasted for most of 1975 and promised to affect next December's municipal elections. Was the inquiry, launched on April 28th,1975, an act of vengeance by Mayor Martin L. Dobkin? Was it a fishing expedition, despatched in vague pursuit of damning evidence? Has the provincial government, in frustrating the investigatory powers of the inquiry commissioner, acted to preserve respectable reputations or to protect political friends?
The use of the courts, whether to find an inquiry commissioner or to settle the legality of the inquiry, probably only complicates what remains an essentially political issue. In very large measure, the legal battles which have drawn Mississauga politicians and lawyers into the courts are a simple prolongation of a fight that should have been settled on October 1st, 1973.
That was the day when a minority of the voters in four new regional municipalities around Ontario's Golden Horseshoe trooped to the polls to elect officials for the new structure of government. Almost everywhere the contests were uneventful. Well-established local politicians were easily returned to their new jobs. The only excitement in most areas occurred where two or three municipal veterans were compelled to shoe horn their way into a single vacancy.
The exception was Mississauga. Composed of almost all of the old town of Mississauga, a sliver of Oakville and the two towns of Port Credit and Streetsville, the new city would form the southern tier of the new Region of Peel. An area of rapid development and population growth, Mississauga had changed dramatically even in the three and a half years after the previous local elections. One innovation was an upsurge of community organizations, half-modelled on the highly publicized groups in central Toronto. The unifying theme was resentment at the pace and direction of development. The organizing force came largely from younger professionals in the more affluent and recent subdivisions. The common target was a town council which, under the former mayor, Robert Speck, and his successor, Charles "Chic" Murray, saw its duty as providing hard services and a friendly reception for industrial and residential developers and allowing a minimum of public meddling with council affairs. In the small municipality of Port Credit, noisy allegations of mismanagement were levied against Mayor Cy Saddington and some members of his council.
Whether the criticisms were sound or foolish, the critical mood helped explain why four of the faces in Mississauga's new nine-member city council were new. Even more unexpected was the defeat of Mayor Murray by a little-known, local general practitioner arid part-time coroner, Dr. Martin L. Dobkin.
While Dobkin's election campaign had been as cheap and amateurish as his opponent's was slick and expensive, it had not been entirely uneventful. On two occasions during the final weeks of campaign, Dobkin was summoned to Mississauga's police station and forcefully warned against mentioning certain allegations of municipal corruption.
The mayor would later claim that this was the first he had heard of charges made by a small-time local developer named Jan Davies that he had been invited to pay $2,000 to James Murray, son of the mayor and a local realtor. The chief, Douglas Burrows, insisted that the police had investigated these and other charges and found them baseless. Whether or not Mississauga voters knew anything of the charges or of the solicitude of the police or the mayor's reputation, they gave Dr. Dobkin a comfortable lead from the moment the first poll reported. It was a defeat that hurt more than Mr. Murray's pride; it was also an embarrassing set-back for the local Progressive Conservative machine. Heavily dependent on local notables, the Peel County Tory organization had survived the trauma of regionalization of municipal government virtually intact. As a reward, Lou Parsons, a prominent local real estate agent and Mississauga Councillor, had been appointed regional chairman. His ward was one of those captured by the so-called "reformers".
While-partisanship was, as usual, formally suppressed during the campaign, it was a badly kept secret that Mayor Dobkin and several of the new Councillors were eager Liberals. Another new Councillor, former Mayor Hazel McCallion of Streetsville, was one of the few local politicians not reconciled to the government's reorganization plan. In early 1975, she publicly announced her allegiance to the Liberals.
TURMOIL IN COUNCIL
By then, much had happened. Even an experienced and agile politician would have been challenged by the task of reconciling antagonistic council members, building and controlling an administration for the new city and participating in the new regional council. Mayor Dobkin lacked both knowledge and flexibility. An inner-directed man with little of the bonhomie or social grace of a practised politician, he seemed to feel little obligation to rencilate (sic) enemies, co-opt potential rivals or rally potential supporters. For guidance, he turned to Dr. Gordon Watt, a practising lawyer who had been a classmate at Queen's University’s medical school and a fellow intern at Montreal General Hospital. As an advisor, Watt progressively lost the mayor's confidence, particularly by urging a rapproachement (sic) with the regional chairman, Lou Parsons.
The arrival of a mayor and a number of councillors with unfamiliar ideas undoubtedly complicated the task of setting up a new administration even if it also offered a rare opportunity for starting on fresh lines.
However, the inevitable turmoil was increased by an astonishing turn-over of municipal officials. As local citizens watched with concern and Toronto newspapers began keeping a contemptuous box score, a procession of city employees, including most of the senior officials, submitted their resignations. Some went to better positions in the regional hierarchy, others left because of incompatibility of temperament and alleged difficulties in working with the new mayor and his supporters. A number crossed the street to work with local developers.
Although Mayor Dobkin has confessed that there were moments when he considered calling in private contractors to keep the city's services in operation, municipal administration survived without breakdown. Despite the shifting personnel and the increasing bitterness within the council, the mayor and his allies claimed some palpable achievements. Aided by constraints in the national and provincial economy, the pace of development slowed and greater restrictions were imposed on developers. The new administration congratulated itself on greater responsiveness to community and citizen organizations, while the public could imagine itself part of the civic administration by watching general committee sessions on local cable systems.
Mississauga's bus system, formerly a problem-plagued private franchise, was acquired for the city and substantially improved. With help from outside experts and a highly publicized appeal for citizen response, a review of the city's official plan was launched. Meanwhile, while some councillors worried increasingly about the city's deteriorating financial position, most could show that long-cherished dreams of libraries, recreation centres and rinks were close to fulfilment.
Probably for most citizens, the positive achievement of the Dobkins administration were overshadowed by the incessant guerilla warfare within the council. Although the changes introduced by Dobkin and even the activities of local citizen groups might seem a pale and hesitant shadow by comparison with their Toronto models, they faced tough, well-organized enemies, unaccustomed to having their power challenged. The mayor's opponents could normally muster three votes at the outset - Councillors Searle, Bud Gregory and Harold Kennedy - but gradually they acquired the more dependable backing of Councillor Caye Killaby and, less reliably, of David Culham, both elected as critics of the old regime.
THE DEVELOPERS RETALIATE
Outside the council, counter-thrusts developed some ingenuity. If the reformers could organize citizen groups, so could developers. When the council decided, 7-3,council decided, to hold up a major residential development, Rockwood Estates, to determine its impact on traffic and services, the developer counter-attacked with his citizens' group, complete with bumper stickers, letters to the editor and noisy delegations to city hall. A more generalized citizen watchdog organization, Concern Citizens of Mississauga, was organized by a former Hydro commissioner, John Leighton. Though its tactics resembled those of counterparts elsewhere, the preoccupations were different: faster industrial expansion, more economy in city management, a curb on new-fangled planning.
The toughest tactics by developers involved the courts. Alerted by Professor Wyman Harrison, an Erindale College geographer, to the hazards of developing land too close to the high banks of the Credit River flood plain, a local conservation group called Save Our Trees and Stream sent briefs to both the old and the new councils, criticizing a subdivision proposed by Riverview Heights Inc. for the old Erindale village area. When the group's cautiously-worded brief reached the city council, the developer, William Sorokolit, promptly sued both the council and the association for damages. The five executive members each found themselves liable for $100,000. An attempt to throw out the case was, itself, thrown out by the Divisional Court in January, 1975. The five nervous defendants were left with their fears and their legal expenses to await a final determination in February, 1976. Other citizen organizations went silent in panic. Even when Save Our Trees won its case, substantial legal costs remained.
Unfortunately, the legal battle between Riverview Heights Inc. and the five ordinary men and women, who had had the temerity to criticize its site plan, was not the only occasion when Mississauga's politics have sent the writs flying.
ALLEGATIONS OF MALFEASANCE
On April 28th, 1975, there was another explosion. "Over the past several months," the mayor announced to the council at its regular Monday meeting, "a number of persons have come to me and made serious and startling allegations of malfeasance in the conduct of city business, including allegations of bribery, influence peddling, obstruction of justice, assault and the unlawful acceptance of benefits." Section 210 of the Ontario Municipal Act, he pointed out, obliged him to be vigilant and to bring such allegations before the council. Since Section 240 of the Act also seemed to suggest a vehicle, he moved from his prepared statement to a lengthy resolution calling for a judicial inquiry into virtually every aspect of the business of the city, its elected officers, officials, employees and appointees to boards and commissions.
The inquiry could set guidelines for the disclosure of conflict of interest, financial relationships, expenditure authority and a host of other matters. The sting was in the tail - section (f) which called on the judge to: "inquire into and report on any improper or unlawful conduct-with respect to the matters touched upon in paragraphs (a) to (e) of the herein Resolution."
The statement and the resolution caught most councillors and the scattering of reporters, officials and onlookers by-surprise. Of course there had been continuing rumours, suspicions and gossip. Publication of the late Mayor Robert Speck's will by a local weekly had prompted unkind gossip about how a modest but respected fruit and vegetable merchant could have become so prosperous. However, the mayor's bombshell produced a rare unanimity. "Lord knows we should have done this a year ago." claimed Councillor Gregory. "The allegations are either true or false but, more important, the people who have made them will be unveiled," he said. Ron Searle explained his support for the resolution in similar terms: "Sweeping statements reflect on every member of council, and the mayor's statements are so general and so sweeping they smack of McCarthyism." More cautious councillors could be reassured by a letter from the City Solicitor, Basil Clark Q.C. The mayor, he explained, had confided some of the allegations to him and sought his advice: "It has therefore been my advice that in view of the information that has been reposed in him, the mayor should sponsor the resolution that is before you this evening. For the mayor to do otherwise would amount to dereliction of his duty."
Within a few days, some members of the council had found reasons to reconsider their enthusiasm. Aware that he could be sued if any specific allegation was not eventually sustained, the mayor had refused to detail his charges. Now his critics and even a few allies began to wonder whether there was any substances to them all all.(sic) Newspaper headlines had proclaimed that the mayor's inquiry would put an end to rumours: now they flew with even greater velocity. The enormous majority of taxpayers who had remained oblivious of even rumoured wrongdoing were now part of the audience. Gathering after the council session of the 28th, old guard members of the group began to have second thoughts. Did Dobkin have other evidence than such episodes as the tired old Jan Davies charges, already disposed of by police investigation? Had the council authorized an unlimited fishing expedition into the past affairs of the municipality? If so, guilty or innocent, could any of them emerge with their reputations intact? When the council met in special session on April 30th, unanimity was broken: the old guard was once again in opposition to the mayor's schemes.
On May 12th, there were still further discussions and a resolution amended the inquiry's terms of reference to include all three predecessor municipal corporations, Streetsville and Port Credit, as well as the town of Mississauga. The amendment would have fateful consequences.
THE INQUIRY: A POLITICAL WITCH-HUNT?
On that day, the mayor could also announce the appointment of the inquiry commissioner. Judge Rae Stortini was a 43-year-old former lawyer from Sault Ste. Marie, called to the bench for the judicial district of York in 1971. One of the younger judges appointed by John Turner in his reforming phase as Minister of Justice, it was noted by local Progressive Conservatives that Stortini was a Liberal. With the appointment, the work of the inquiry could get underway, first in an improvised office at Mississauga's provincial court building, later at Erindale College, where the formal public sessions would be held. The counsel for the inquiry, R. Noel Bates, was a young lawyer who had worked as solicitor for the former Halton County Council and had no known political connections.
Aided by Inspector Lou Pelissaro and detectives from the Ontario Provincial Police, with the Peel Regional Police checking out details, the inquiry began by tracking down the nine allegations provided by the mayor. Most had formed the thin substance of political gossip in Mississauga for years. Part III of the Ontario Public Inquiries Act authorized an investigator to seize papers and documents on a wide-ranging warrant: on application, Judge Stortini's request for such powers was firmly rejected. If Mayor Dobkin had planned a fishing expedition, the attorney general of Ontario would not lend him a hook. On July 31st, the Mississauga Hydro Commission, already one of the apparent focuses for the investigation, announced that it refused to answer questions posed by the inquiry staff.
On August 11th, the commission's lawyers demanded a judicial review to test the legal validity of the entire investigation.
With its existene (sic) challenged by the courts, the inquiry continued steadfastly, announcing that its public sessions would open on September 15th. Local Conservatives promptly noted that this would be only three days before a crucial provincial election. If explosive revelations were made in the early sessions, they could not be answered before voters had gone to the polls. The Tories could now suspect that they would not be the gainers. Fortune and the courts were on their side. On September 2nd, Mr. Justice Peter Wright announced that he accepted the Hydro Commission's arguments: the inquiry had no right to look at anything before January 1st, 1974, the day the new city of Mississauga had come, into existence. The inquiry was now hopelessly stalled. Or was it? Within a week, the city solicitor announced that the decision would be appealed and the inquiry could proceed.
It was time for the Conservatives to unmask their secret weapon. Almost unnoticed by the public, Dr. Watt, the mayor's executive assistant, had resigned on April 15th, almost two weeks before the judicial inquiry was approved. His departure to resume his legal career in Ottawa appeared amicable; only a few insiders knew that he had strenuously opposed the proposal for a probe. One of the insiders was obviously the regional chairman, Lou Parsons.
If April 28th had been Mayor Dobkin's day, September 12th was Mr. Parson's chance for a coup. A trifle unctuously, the regional chairman reminded the regional council of the circumstances of the Mississauga inquiry and its fate at the hands of Mr. Justice Wright. If the region should be involved, he suggested, it was because the financial community "might very well express concern about the stability of local government in the Peel Region" at a time when it was trying to market its debentures. All of this was routine politics: the sensation came when Parsons announced that he had an affidavit signed and sworn to by none other than Dr. Gordon Watt.
Never, according to the former executive assistant, had he heard or learned of "any incident of corruption, brutality or malfeasance" in the municipality although Dobkin had shared with him every allegation he had ever received. Instead, the real architects of the inquiry were two lawyers better known for their role as defence counsel in the sensational murder trial of Toronto developer Peter Derneter, Messrs. Joseph Pomerant and Edward Greenspan. It was they, Watt claimed, who had put the mayor up to the inquiry, arguing that even if there might hot be enough evidence at the beginning something was bound to turn up. Most devastating of all, if malignant motives
'The said Mr. Pomerant indicated to me that he thought an inquiry would be helpful to the mayor's political future." To push the 'knife a little farther, Watt concluded with the suggestion that, of all the councillors, only former mayor Hazel McCallion had been busy encouraging the mayor in his actions.
The local Conservatives had been worried by the closeness of the first day of the inquiry to the Ontario election. Parsons's proposal brilliantly finessed the play. Or did it? Terry Miller, a regional councillor from Brampton and a Liberal, questioned Dirk Pepper, senior regional financial officer. Had the judicial inquiry really caused difficulties in the bond market? The official replied that he knew nothing to suggest it. Instead of accepting Parson's proposal that the Region use the affidavit as an excuse to quash the inquiry, a majority voted instead to forward the document to the Mississauga council and turned to other business.
By now, the proceedings of the inquiry had driven most other matters from the minds of Mississauga councillors. Should the inquiry, now publicly damned as a political witch-hunt, be allowed to continue? Councillor Killaby, whose modest private land dealings years before had been revived as an issue by inquiry leaks, was furious. She had, she explained, originally supported the investigation:"... I have not seen or heard of any supporting evidence that warrants an inquiry - nothing from the mayor - this council - police or inquiry team." However, as Councillor Mary-Helen Spence, a reformer and Dobkin ally, pointed out, the mayor was not the only conspirator. How about the regional chairman who had busied himself so assiduously in obtaining the affidavit? "The proper forum for information relating to the subject matter of the inquiry is the inquiry itself - not in the press, not at regional council and, for that matter, not at special council meetings." The meeting on the 12th was bitter, stormy and indecisive. It ended only when the mayor's motion for adjournment passed 5-4 with Councillor Searle abstaining and proclaiming that the entire session had been illegal.
The Watt affidavit had not been allowed to end the inquiry. Instead, its substance and circumstances were added to the already almost limitless list of matters for Judge Stortini to investigate. Official inquiry sessions opened on schedule on September 15th. Erindale College's council room, a gloomy room of cast concrete and blue upholstery, was the scene. The amateur nature of the performance was suggested by Canadian and Mississauga flags of different sizes crudely suspended from an overhead ledge with the aid of a few cement blocks. There was not much time for participants to contemplate such homely details.
The inquiry had not begun when the city solicitor rose to propose an adjournment until the council could come to a conclusion about its future. The request was sidetracked in a closed session and Judge Stortini resumed within two hours. Now it was the turn of a galaxy of legal advisors summoned by former Mayor Murray, his son James, Mississauga Hydro and other interested participants.
While Murray and his son warned reporters mat they might be suing Mayor Dobkin for public mischief, his counsel, Ian Quterbridge, and his fellow lawyers were demonstrating that they could tie the inquiry in knots unless it waited/at least for an appeal to Mr. Justice Wright's decision to be heard. After two days of harsh wrangling, threats and counter-threats, Judge Stortini adjourned the inquiry to await the pleasure of the Divisional Court,
THE CITY'S CASE DEMOLISHED
By the time the fate of the inquiry could be settled, the provincial election was over. All three Mississauga seats had been secured by the Conservatives, one of them by Councillor Bud Gregory. Among many Conservative losses was the attorney general, John Clement. His successor, a newcomer to the legislature and a close friend and advisor of Premier William Davis, was Roy KcMurtry. It was reasonable to assume that he would respect the premier's views about Mississauga affairs when Mr, Davis's own constituency is in neighbouring Brampton. However, the province had already made its views about the Mississauga inquiry public by refusing Judge Stortini the powers of search and seizure he had long since requested. It was hardly a surprise that the department of the attorney general should be powerfully represented at the Divisional Court appeal.
According to the department's brief, the Mississauga inquiry had had (sic) no right to examine the affairs of the former municipalities or of the Hydro Commission, the creation of the former Town of Mississauga which had been held over after the proclamation of regional government. Again, according to the attorney general's department, inquiries under Section 240 required specific allegations, particularly for section (f) of the original re-solution and perhaps even for the general investigation into "good government". Finally, the brief insisted that the council could not delegate essentially legislative functions to a judicial inquiry but that, in asking for guidelines and other advice, it had done so.
The Divisional Court judgement, delivered on November 5th, accepted the arguments put forward by the attorney general and endorsed the positions taken by counsel for Mississauga Hydro. (ex-mayor Murray was still one of three Hydro commissioners) and for the two Murrays.
The 32-page judgement, written by Mr. Justice R. F. Reid and unanimously agreed to, demolished the city's case on almost precisely the grounds of the attorney general's brief and left the municipal corporation bound to pay not only the expenses of its quashed inquiry but also the full legal costs of the plaintiffs, a bill promptly estimated at close to a quarter million dollars.
However well-founded this legal decision, the fact was that the issues involved in the inquiry were as much political as legal. While the mayor's enemies could rejoice at his utter defeat, echoing the judicial comments that the inquiry defied common sense, justice and the Ontario Municipal Act, there were others who noted how much effort had been made to squash the inquiry before it had had (sic) a chance to reveal its secrets. The allegations that might have come before the inquiry, presumably with some supportive evidence, had been submitted to the Divisional Court by the inquiry counsel, Noel Bates. At the end of the hearings, they were returned unopened. Did they contain matters of substance or simply old newspaper clippings? Suspicions immediately deepened when Judge Stortini, presumably in response to a request from the mayor; sent a letter to members of council on November 6th reporting the fate of the inquiry, complaining of the lack of provincial government support in conducting an investigation and concluding: "From my knowledge of the subject matters of the inquiry, which knowledge has been gained from executive session with inquiry personnel, some of the matters brought to the attention of this judicial inquiry clearly warrant further investigation and hearing."
For "Chic" Murray, the Judge's letter was a serious blow. His response, again with the aid of his sturdy legal advisor, was a massive law suit for a total of $900,000 against Mayor Dobkin, Councillor McCallion, Joseph Pomerant, Jan Davies the developer, and for good measure, R. Noel Bates, the commission counsel, alleging that the entire affair was a conspiracy matured over the years against the Murrays, father and son.
Plotting had-allegedly begun with meetings of Dobkin and Davies in the summer of 1973 and had continued through deceiving councillors, the city solicitor and once the inquiry had been launched, with the full collaboration of Mr. Bates.
The choice of defendants was, perhaps, a little arbitrary. At least one councillor was informed by the Murrays' lawyers that he had been left out of the suit from the goodness of their heart. On the other hand, Judge Stortini found himself involved, thanks to his letter of November 7th, and Ontario courts had the rare opportunity of deciding whether a judge had been guilty of contempt of court merely by transmitting a letter claiming that "further investigation" was in order. Not surprisingly, the claim was rejected.
Politics was certainly a factor in the Murray's $900,000 suit. Councillor Bud Gregory's election to the provincial legislature in September had left a vacancy in Mississauga's Ward 3. To general surprise and some criticism, the former mayor proclaimed himself a candidate, incidentally infuriating Councillor Searle who had picked his candidate, Frank Bean, for the vacancy. The by-election, decided on November 17th, gave Murray his seat by a margin of only 44 votes. It could hardly be called a stunning vindication of the former mayor but the lawsuits demonstrated that Murray was willing to go to court to protect his reputation. Litigation had, perhaps incidentally, served a political purpose.
A LOT OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
The inquiry which was to end all rumours has only spawned more and more. Only the provincial government has the powers to launch a serious investigation and the new attorney general has made it clear again and again that he would not do so. Was it simply a party battle; Mayor Dobkin and Councillor McCallion fighting Conservatives in the Region of Peel, with the backing of Liberal spokesmen Vern Singer and Robert Nixon at Queen's Park? The attorney general insisted that no evidence had been brought to his attention and that police investigations had long since disposed of all allegations. Had Judge Stortini simply acted as the creature of Mayor Dobkin in suggesting that "further investigation" was called for? Could the integrity and responsibility of a county court judge be impugned so easily by a provincial attorney general?
Perhaps the provincial government and the police had simply combined to protect "Chic" Murray's reputation? With the vibrations of Watergate still crossing the border, was that good enough? A young freelance reporter named Dave Turnball, who had reported on the Mississauga inquiry to the CBC's Toronto morning radio show, received a letter from the Peel Regional Police solicitors, threatening him with a possible suit for conspiracy because of alleged inferences in his broadcasts that the police had not sufficiently backed the mayor's investigation. He was also directed to provide names and addresses of the sources of his information. Having disregarded the letter, Turnball was interviewed by the deputy chief and warned that his conduct could lead to charges of public mischief. The, nervous reporter has turned to other concerns. According to Chief Burrows, such forceful intervention was necessary to uphold the honour of his force. Even inferential attacks on the local police, he argues, could destroy the frail bonds of society in so new a community as Mississauga.
To some, the entire inquiry has played that destructive role. Far from resolving doubts and removing suspicions, a year of charges and countercharges, of litigation and intrigue, threatened municipal business with near paralysis. In the legal battles, the advantages lie with former mayor Murray and the political machine that traditionally dominated Peel County affairs. Condemned to silence by the theat of the $900,000 hanging over them, Mayor Dobkin and his allies will have no chance to explain the motives which led to the inquiry.
By announcing his intention to seek re-election next December, Dr. Dobkin has guaranteed Mississauga voters as bitter and personal an election campaign as anyone could wish. The abortive inquiry will be an issue as local Conservatives seek vengeance for their 1973 defeat. Paradoxically, their favoured candidate may not be the faithful Ron Searle but David Culham, a Liberal whose voluble self-righteousness and self-confidence are combined with an impressive ability to see the developers’ viewpoint.
The outcome of the election will depend on citizen reluctance to see development interests return to the driver's seat. It will also depend on voter perceptions of Dobkin's role in the inquiry. Will Mississaugans believe in the network of conspiracy alleged by the Murrays or the crass political motivations claimed by Dr. Gordon Watt? Or will they be persuaded that a young, inexperienced but decent mayor has been trapped by a clique of old guard politicians intent on conserving their power? An early judicial decision would settle the matter but the election date approaches more inexorably than the Murrays' day in court. Meanwhile, questions remain unanswered.
What were the mysterious matters which, according to Judge Stortini, required "further" investigation? Does it really matter that his opinion was sought and publicized by Mayor Dobkin while the earlier letter from the attorney general, questioning the validity of the inquiry, remained quietly filed for five months? Did Mayor Dobkin launch a cruel and irresponsible witch-hunt or was he bound, as his city solicitor apparently advised, to act or be remiss in his sworn responsibilities? What was in the sealed envelope which, according to the inquiry counsel, provided the grounds for continuing the investigation? Was a county court judge justified in his statement that further investigation was called for or was he the tool of an irresponsible elected official?
Perhaps only an open, responsible provincial investigation can now dispose of another suspicion: that the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has combined with some of its municipal allies to choke off an investigation and humiliate its political opponents. That suspicion will give a wider significane (sic) to the contest in Mississauga when municipal voters trudge through the snow next December.
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