Posted August 18, 2015
Public opinion is surging strongly to have Farbridge friend and supporter Susan Watson, pay the cost of her campaign complaint against Glen Tolhurst. Today, her Toronto lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said there was a loophole in interpreting the auditor’s report that cleared both Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph (GRG).
“By finding that the third party newspaper ads are not contributions in this case, it does leave open the possibility of future contributors might see this as an opportunity to ‘donate almost unlimited amounts’ ”, Gillespie told a local newspaper.
What he neglects to mention is that there are limitations to what individuals can donate. The Municipal Elections Act does not preclude corporations to donate funds to candidates. By the absence of any reference to ‘third party” in the Act, both GRG and Mr. Molson agreed it is perfectly legal for corporations to donate to candidates.
He went on: “If someone can buy an ad supporting a candidate, or their position, without that being a contribution, to many people. this seems to be a very large loophole in the legislation.”
But Mr. Gillespie, this was not “someone” it was a legally functioning Ontario Corporation that donated $400 to Mr. Tolhurst’s campaign. By your argument you may want to look at the $4,200 that your client and her husband Dr. Ian Digby donated to a number of candidates. Or take a look at the funds that were spent by the Guelph and District Labour Council to various candidates who were listed throughout the election campaign on its website, “We are Guelph.”
Most people would not remember Eric Gillespie. He represented the unions who objected to Wal-Mart setting up shop in Guelph. During the 11-year battle to prevent Wal-Mart to establish, he represented the opposition in addition to Ben Bennett, the paid representative of the unions that financed the attempt to stop Wal-Mart. The battle ended in 2006 when Guelph council approved the project and the rest is history.
Now Susan Watson, facing paying the cost of her effort to discredit Tolhurst and GRG, has employed Gillespie to defend her false accusations against the two parties. These accusations were nullified by the city appointed auditor, William Molson, CA.
His findings came after investigating the arguments put forth by Watson’s first lawyer and a fellow traveler, Denis Galon They remain as specious today as they were May 6 when the two-man Compliance Audit Committee (CAC) voted to order the audit.
Gillespie’s smokescreen is nothing but a nonsensical delaying tactic. According to the nine-page report by Mr. Molson, not one of Susan Watson’s claims of illegal contributions by a legally organized non-profit corporation was judged valid.
For Gillespie to now claim that resolution of this case will take a long time, he’s spitting in the wind. He says that his client can seek redress in the courts over the audit’s conclusions.
Does he seriously expect the City of Guelph to pay for continuing this exercise of a personal vendetta against Glen Tolhurst and GRG? The bill is now more than $10,000 and sorry, Mr. Gillespie, you have a strong tide of public opinion running against your case and your client.
Susan Watson was warned following the May 6 meeting in which she persuaded the CAC to conduct an audit, that she might be liable for the costs.
On September 10, the CAC will receive Mr. Molson’s report. It is understood that citizens can make representation in person or in writing, to express their opinions.
Susan Watson has already thoroughly embarrassed the city and citizens with these ill-founded claims of election irregularities.
If she is seeking redemption of her reputation, she should accept the auditor’s report and move on.
She has already alienated supporters by pursuing a manufactured protest that will not change the outcome of the 2014 election.
It does have the potential for serious personal lawsuits that could claim damages for unwarranted claims, causing personal anguish, pain and suffering.