© Kirk Starratt
Lawyer Peter Muttart and his client, Kings County councillor Pauline Raven, prepare to enter Supreme Court in Kentville on Dec. 19.
Kings County Coun. Pauline Raven disagrees that a point of order was properly called, but she says the most recent rulings in a code of conduct judicial review is a signal that the court will not interfere with the normal conduct of meetings – even when the person chairing it makes mistakes.
Raven said the court made it clear Jan. 7 that she or one of the other councillors should have challenged the warden at the time of the Oct. 1 ruling. Councillors should do this when they feel the chairperson has made the wrong decision, she said.
“I will be more diligent in the future,” Raven said.
She said that when Judge Pierre Muise ruled that the judicial review she requested would move forward and not be dismissed, as the county had argued, he made several pointed comments. Raven believes the judge’s comments should signal to council that the warden’s launch of a code of conduct investigation and the ensuing investigation were flawed.
“In my view, it’s now appropriate for our council to rescind the entire code of conduct issue so that council can all get back to the business of the day,” Raven said.
The exclusion by the court of portions of the county’s affidavits will make the judicial review more manageable and less costly, she added. With the point of order issue out of the way, Raven said, obtaining a court order to nullify council’s actions in the code of conduct matter is now “front, centre and less encumbered by the unnecessary distractions introduced by the county.”
She said the code of conduct matter was her key concern in bringing forward an application for judicial review and she is pleased that it’s now the focus of the court’s attention.
Kings chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan said a considerable amount of the material included in the affidavits focused on the issuing the warning by the chairperson, as well as issues related to an amended notice of judicial review, filed by Raven, that sought to increase the scope of the review from Oct. 1 and 15 into Sept. 17 and Nov. 12.
“Given that the majority of the information that was removed from the affidavits addressed the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the warning, and as the warning is not subject to judicial review, we do not foresee that the removal of certain paragraphs from the affidavits will have any impact on the Municipality of Kings’ position,” MacEwan said.
Muise found that issuing a warning was within the authority of the chair and not subject to judicial review, MacEwan pointed out. The municipality always maintained that the warning was issued as a point of order and is not subject to such a review and MacEwan said the county is pleased that the court confirmed the county’s position.
The court ruling limits the scope of the review to the motion passed by council on Oct. 15. This motion affirmed the code of conduct and the authority of the chair in maintaining decorum in the chamber; endorsed the warning given to Raven; and committed to move ahead in a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation.
“It is this motion of council which the court is being asked to review,” MacEwan said.
It is anticipated a hearing date will be set following the Jan. 21 court appearance.