By Kirk Starratt
He doesn’t regret coming forward to the returning officer last October when he found out he might be considered disqualified as a county council candidate, but Peter Jackson said he hopes the province will review the Municipal Elections Act to clarify ambiguities.
“I can’t say I have any regrets,” Jackson said. “It is an irony how it turned out.”
Jackson asked for a ruling when he felt he might be considered disqualified. He approached returning officer Heather Archibald after learning he should have resigned or sought leave from his position as a citizen appointee on the municipal planning advisory committee last fall before filing nomination papers to run for council in District 2.
Jackson said he was trying to make sure the county wasn’t put in the situation it is now, having to hold by-elections.
In this regard, the matter is quite ironic. It’s also ironic that the planning committee was being enfolded into county council’s committee of the whole and Jackson’s role as a citizen appointee was about to end regardless.
Jackson feels the head provincial returning officer and the provincial minister responsible should have made a decision, but the message came back to Archibald to check with the municipal solicitor on the matter. She did, and a ruling was subsequently made to disqualify Jackson, as well as District 8 candidate Rick Ackland and District 11 candidate Jim Winsor, because of their respective roles as municipal citizen appointees to committees and boards.
Jackson decided not to join in the Supreme Court challenge that subsequently overturned the disqualifications of Ackland and Winsor and rendered October election results in their respective districts null and void. Emma Van Rooyen was elected in District 2 on Oct. 20 and this result stands. There will be special elections held to fill the vacant District 8 and 11 seats on March 16. Dale Lloyd and Gary Connolly won those respective districts in October.
“I think the county did right in not appealing,” Jackson said of the Supreme Court ruling.
He said the judge made a ruling that citizen appointees aren’t considered paid municipal employees, but didn’t comment on wording in the legislation surrounding remuneration. Jackson hopes the province will review the Municipal Elections Act to clarify ambiguities and the possibility of various interpretations. The act affects the entire province and it’s up to the government in power to look after it, he said. However, Jackson said they left it to one municipality to make a ruling.
A number of people have told Jackson they think he should have been given an opportunity to run again, but he doesn’t have any ill will. He doesn’t think anyone owes him an apology and Jackson stands by his decision to come forward in October.
“Let’s say I didn’t say anything and won and then found out I was a disqualified candidate,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t have felt very good.”
Jackson said he feels bad for Connolly and Lloyd. They were elected in October, but have been removed from their council seats because of the court ruling, even though they did nothing wrong. Jackson is now offering to work for both Connolly and Lloyd if they would like his assistance with their campaigns.