© Kirk Starratt
Lawyer Peter Muttart and his client, Kings County councillor Pauline Raven, prepare to enter Supreme Court in Kentville on Dec. 19.
A Kings County councillor has been ordered to pay costs to the municipality as the result of an application to the Supreme Court for a judicial review.
Judge Arthur Pickup ruled on March 10 that the applicant, Coun. Pauline Raven, and the respondent, the Municipality of Kings, had mixed success in their arguments to the court. He said after listening to legal counsel and to audio recordings of the proceedings on Jan. 21 before Judge Pierre Muise, he was not convinced it had any effect on his decision.
Pickup ordered Raven to pay $300 in costs to the municipality, as well as half the cost of having a transcript produced for the hearings. The municipality paid $1,895.79 to have the document produced.
Pickup said the fact that county council rescinded a motion endorsing a warning given to Raven by Warden Diana Brothers and reaffirming the councillor code of conduct indicated that Raven was successful on that issue.
He said an offer on Jan. 15 to rescind council’s endorsement ultimately resulted in a motion of discontinuance being provided. However, that notice had yet to be properly filed. He said that although the applicant discontinued, more documents were filed, requiring the municipality to respond and endure further costs.
“Some proceedings, in my view, shouldn’t have taken place,” Pickup said. “It seems to me a lot of this could have been avoided.”
Speaking on behalf of his client, lawyer Peter Muttart said the costs awarded to the municipality were the result of an error in the documentation he filed.
“It had nothing to do with the success of Coun. Raven,” he said.
Muttart said they were prepared to argue the matter with the minutes from the council meetings alone and it was the municipality’s choice to hire a transcriptionist. He said they were disappointed they were called on to pay half the cost for that.
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Muttart added that with four judges involved in the proceedings, it was difficult to maintain continuity of arguments.
Muttart argued that when he heard on Jan. 21 that council would be rescinding the Oct. 15 endorsement of the warden’s warning to Raven later that day, it was not sufficient. They wanted to see that the motion was rescinded in its entirety, including all references to the code of conduct, before filing a notice of discontinuance for Raven’s application for judicial review.
Muise earlier awarded $150 in costs to the municipality from the applicant, as he determined success in arguments regarding affidavits on Jan. 7 leaned slightly toward county lawyer Jonathan Cuming.
At the Oct. 1 council meeting, Brothers asked Raven to withdraw comments about “misrepresentation” and “manipulation” of information Raven made during debate over a regional governance study. Raven declined after Brothers ruled Raven couldn’t make another statement for the record in its place. Brothers then told the executive assistant to strike Raven’s comments from the record.
Raven excused herself from an in-camera discussion at the Oct. 15 committee of the whole session due to concern over a possible conflict of interest. Council endorsed a warning to Raven following the meeting and approved the motion later that day.
The municipality had earlier successfully argued that this issue wasn’t about the code of conduct but a point of order. Raven had a number of opportunities to challenge the Warden’s decision on the point of order. However, Raven did not challenge the decision, an action afforded to her under Bylaw 64. Muttart had argued that no point of order was ever called.
Muise said it was clearly a point of order ruling, even though Brothers never called “point of order.”