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Mississauga News - Mar. 31, 2010 - By Julie Slack - firstname.lastname@example.org
Judicial inquiry costs continue to grow
The City of Mississauga, already on the hook for $338,000 related to the upcoming judicial inquiry, could be looking at an even heftier bill.
Today at City Council, staff was asked by Ward 3 councillor Maja Prentice to prepare a report on the feasibility of the City covering any legal expenses incurred by councillors with respect to the inquiry.
Prentice suggested councillors who are interviewed by forensic investigators shouldn't have to pay for legal counsel.
"I'd like to see a resolution with the same criteria around third party coverage (covering the legal expenses of people other than City staff or councillors who are called to the judicial inquiry) for members of Council," she said. "I'm not going to pay for a lawyer."
Staff will prepare a report for the next Council meeting.
Discussion was prompted by City solicitor Mary Ellen Bench's presentation to Council of a report outlining the $338,000 in inquiry-related expenses to date.
Bench said councillors can make use of the City's legal counsel, who's available to provide guidance and answer questions.
Ward 11 councillor George Carlson said that should be sufficient.
"I just have to tell what I know; it's an inquiry, not an inquisition, so I don't think I have anything much to worry about," he said.
Ward 6 councillor Carolyn Parrish said she's already been questioned by forensic investigators and there's nothing to fear.
"I'm just curious as to why we're (talking about legal fees for councillors)," she said. "I've been before the inquiry. I was not sworn under oath; I was not giving any information, because I think the inquiry is there to find information. They were merely asking me my opinions on things.
"Having a lawyer with me would have been a very huge waste of money. Seems to me the tone around the table is to try and keep this as tight as possible.
I don't mind the investigation, but I am most loathe to pay for 11 councillors to go marching in with 11 lawyers to be asked questions of stuff we know nothing about. From my experience, it was very general questions. You were not put in any difficult positions."
The $2.5-million inquiry, which will begin hearing testimony May 17, will, among other undertakings, probe the role of Mayor Hazel McCallion's son, Peter McCallion, in a $14.4-million failed bid by World Class Developments Ltd. to purchase a 3.5-hectare parcel of land owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
The mayor, her son, the City, Enersource and OMERS, which owns Square One Shopping Centre, will all be represented at the hearings.
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