THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - Nov. 13, 2009 - By Phinjo Gombu Urban Affairs Reporter.
Judge named for inquiry probing land deal involving McCallion's son
An Ontario Superior Court judge who dismissed corruption charges against Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien has been selected to preside over a judicial inquiry that will look at a range of issues including a controversial $14.4 million land deal involving the son of Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion.
The selection of Associate Justice Douglas Cunningham, who famously allowed live Twitter feeds from the courtroom where the O'Brien trial was held, means the investigative phase that precedes any public hearing could begin as early as next week.
Also announced Friday was the selection of Clifford Lax as the city's lawyer for the inquiry. Lax was lead counsel for the 1996 inquiry by Mr. Justice Archie Campbell into the police investigation of serial killer Paul Bernado. He was also involved in the Toronto MFP inquiry that looked into a computer leasing deal.
"We will meet with commission counsel next week and start talking about how we want to handle the inquiry," said Mississauga city solicitor Mary Ellen Bench, who confirmed the two appointments this afternoon.
The council-ordered inquiry will look into, among other things, the purchase of land by Mississauga for a Sheridan College campus in the city centre.
Before that purchase took place, the parcel of land was the subject of a conditional purchase and sale agreement between World Class Developments Ltd., a company connected to Mayor McCallion's son, Peter McCallion, and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. The giant pension fund is also a minority shareholder in the city's hydro utility, Enersource.
Court affidavits, filed as part of a business dispute, placed Mayor McCallion in at least two private meetings involving her son's company, while a rezoning application involving the same parcel of land was before council.
The inquiry will also look into the relationship between OMERS and its minority stake in Enersource, including the thorny issue of how a company with a 10-per cent stake in the utility was able to get a "negative veto," the source of much consternation to councillors who say they never approved such as veto.
The inquiry is expected to cost about $2.5 million and last about 40 days.
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