The high cost of retaining historical artifacts

Some legal cases take time to reach a conclusion. Even those cases that are never heard in the courts.

Scott Tracey in the Guelph Mercury spelled it out in his column how a dispute between the city and the descendants of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, the Guelph born physician who served  and died in the first world war, and wrote the famous poem: “In Flanders fields the poppies grow.”

The dispute arose when the family members demanded return of seven medals housed in the McCrae house museum. The city refused and a lawsuit was launched against the city in 2008.

It was announced February 8 that a settlement had been reached. The city would issue a press release acknowledging the gift from the McCrae descendants and install a plaque at the McCrae Museum.

Is this over?

Not really. Questions are now being raised when city solicitor Donna Jacques said the legal costs for this three-year marathon negotiation were $233,000. An outside law firm engaged by city to make its case billed this amount.

It is noted that none of the funds went to members of the McCrae family. Only the lawyers got it.

The elongated negotiations were conducted behind closed doors so the public was never informed of what was happening. More to the point, how did such a simple settlement take so long and cost so much?

It is yet another example of mismanagement by the Farbridge administration. The cost of legal services, both in house and hired guns, is buried in voluminous data that the average taxpayer cannot decipher.

To obfuscate the truth is the mantra of this bunch.

Get ready for the other shoe to fall when the new city hall breach of contract suit comes to trial and/or settlement. Also fired treasurer Margaret Neubaur will have a wrongful dismissal case pending. Also the public washroom collapse will impact legal costs as will civic museum and compost plant cost overruns. Toss in the disputes with county councillors, and the province, and the costs of legal and staff soar.

The good news is the medals earned by this brave soldier remain in the house where he was born so the public may remember his service to his country.


Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “The high cost of retaining historical artifacts

  1. Milton Burns

    It was so cold in Guelph to-day that a lawyer who worked on the McCrea settlement was seen walking down the street with both hands in his pockets. Usually he has one hand in your pocket to the tune of $233,000 or the eguivalent of nearly $2.00 per head of every man, woman and child in the City to skillfully defend something that we owned. WOW, a settlement…
    With the number of pending lawsuits outstanding I am sure that the lawyers have ample opportunity to once again put there hand in your pocket. After all City Hall and Farbridge is protecting your interest.

    • Milton: The litigation departments of law firms across the province must be licking their chops at the stupefying management of Guelph city council’s predilection to enter the legal lists at the slightest provocation. Let’s see, there is the new City Hall breach of contract suit ( potentially $19 million); the costs of battling the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Board ending up with an unbudgeted liability of $10 million; The collapse in a public washroom killing a teenager lawsuit (undetermined); the wrongful dismissal suit by former city treasurer Margaret Neubaur yet to be litigated or settled.
      Just more evidence that the majority of this council love spending other people’s money without regard for the outcome.

  2. Craig Chamberlain

    With the public health board debacle, Gerry, it seemed to me that we were playing politics through the courts, and using them as the means by which to circle the wagons in support of our (mis)direction. As time went on, it seemed that it became more about how it all was unjust towards us notwithstanding what the courts were going to say. That is, using a court of law to elevate our position politically, i.e. in the court of public opinion. On the whole, it would seem that we are always the supposed victim of a lack of accountability on the part of someone else.

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