Judson and Caul before court

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

Fort Frances Coun. Douglas Judson has declared that he has instructed his lawyer to begin a legal proceeding against Fort Frances Mayor June Caul in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, over alleged abuse of office.

This proceeding was initiated on Sept. 3, 2021.

Judson released details of his action against Caul in a public statement over the weekend, in an attempt to prove her bias against him, and necessitate her to recuse herself from debating and voting on an Integrity Commission report during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night.

“I had hoped to address the matters it concerns out of public view. However, as a result of the Mayor’s refusal to acknowledge her conflict and recuse herself from the Integrity Commissioner proceeding concerning me on Monday, it is now necessary to share the details publicly,” Judson said in a public statement.

According to the Notice of Application – a legal document outlining the grounds for the lawsuit – a number of actions were taken by the mayor, between the retirement of former CAO Doug Brown on May 31 and the appointment of current CAO Faisal Anwar in August, which Judson feels were “beyond her lawful authority.”

“Mayors have no role in the administration, no authority over councillors, and no ability to direct municipal staff,” Judson claimed in a written statement. As mayor, Caul is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the town.

Judson alleges that the mayor attended a meeting with the town’s legal council, with no administrative staff present, acting as council’s liaison. The meeting was a matter that council had approved the First Nation Relations Advisory Committee to oversee. Judson alleges that Caul instructed the lawyers without council’s prior authorization. Caul is a current member of that committee. Judson is a past member.

When Judson requested a copy of the agenda and information from the legal meeting and copies of retainer agreements for the law firms assisting the town, Lisa Slomke, former clerk and acting CAO at the time, declined to fulfill the request on the basis of the Council/Staff Relations Policy. The e-mail was copied to all members of council.

Judson then claims he “challenged Ms. Slomke’s interpretation of the Council/Staff Relations Policy,” after which he alleges Caul, “sent numerous improper e-mails.”

According to the Notice, Caul claims that she felt Judson’s challenge of Slomke’s interpretation was “harassment,” and that the mayor, as CEO, has a role in the Municipal Act to ensure “the municipality remains free from harassment.”

However, Judson disagrees with this interpretation of a mayor’s role, and claims the e-mails sent by Caul were defamatory against him.

“Being ‘CEO’ is no excuse for her abusive communications,” his statement read.

Judson has yet to receive his requested material.

He is also calling into question the mayor’s request for a formal report related to the Boundary Waters forest license. Judson alleges she directed staff to prepare and issue the request for the report which cost the town $,4000, without prior direction from the Economic Development Executive Committee. According to a service agreement between the Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) and Fort Frances, entered into in March 2021, only the CAO and the Economic Development Executive Committee can procure economic development and related consulting services from the RRFDC. Both Caul and Judson are members of that committee.

Judson is seeking orders declaring that the mayor has no role in the administration or internal management of the municipality, that Caul was never appointed CAO or acting CAO, or given the ability to exercise any administrative role. It also seeks an order quashing the orders made by Caul to procure the RRFDC consultant report and to direct staff to not respond to Judson’s request for information around the legal meeting. Judson also seeks to be awarded the costs of the application to court, and “such further and other relief as this court deems just.”

Caul has not directly addressed these allegations, and none have been proven in a court of law.

However, during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Caul said she has been vilified, intimidated and threatened in local media and on social media for four months.

“Not once have I commented in return, because that is not who I am,” Caul said. “Frankly, I am disappointed and insulted by the recent threats I received, and that now will be passed on to the town and our taxpayers.”