Quebec Councillor Disqualified for Municipal Contract

In British Columbia local elected officials who consider our “ethical conduct” rules to be unduly onerous might take some comfort from a recent Québec Court of Appeal decision, from which the Supreme Court of Canada has just refused leave to appeal. Keith McKinnon was elected a councillor of the Municipality of St-Augustin on December 12 of 2010. About two years previously, McKinnon’s company had entered into a passenger transportation contract with the municipality that involved the use of a hovercraft to cross the St-Augustin River in northeast Québec. Under the municipal elections legislation, a person who, during his term of office as a municipal councillor, knowingly has a direct or indirect interest in a contract with the municipality is (subject to certain exceptions) disqualified from holding elected office in any municipality in the province. This is a much more onerous rule than the contract disclosure and conflict of interest rules that apply to B.C. local elected officials under s. 107 of the Community Charter; in this province, a councillor may have a contract with the municipality if it is disclosed and the councillor doesn’t vote on it. The Québec Attorney-General’s application to have the councillor disqualified was denied in the Superior Court, but allowed in the Court of Appeal.

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