Judson drops suit against Caul

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Fort Frances Coun. Douglas Judson has dropped litigation against Mayor June Caul over alleged abuse of power and authority.

This comes after Caul made an acknowledgement the limits of her role as mayor in the Town of Fort Frances during Monday’s council meeting. Caul said she acknowledges that the Municipal Act confers on her as the head of council with no role in the administration of the municipality.

She added that the procedural bylaw and the Staff/Council Relations policy create no powers, authority or role to her under the Municipal Act.

According to the Notice of Application – a legal document outlining the grounds for the lawsuit – Judson said a number of actions were also taken by Caul between the retirement of former CAO Doug Brown and the appointment of current CAO Faisal Anwar that were beyond her lawful authority.

Caul also acknowledged that she was never appointed to CAO of the Town of Fort Frances or otherwise given the ability to exercise the role of the CAO, and that her function as the CEO confers no administrative or internal management role in the municipality on the head of council.

Caul also said that as mayor, she has no power or authority, without the prior authorization, delegation, or direction of Council. She added that she does not have the power or authority under any bylaw or policy of the Town of Fort Frances to order, direct or instruct administrative staff of the municipality to do or not to do anything, to exercise or enforce the rights of the municipality under any contract unless specifically authorized or to instruct legal counsel for the municipality.

Caul said she has chosen to make this statement this evening in the hope that this matter is now settled and that “we can move forward to work for the betterment of our community.”

Following Caul’s acknowledgement, Judson said it resolved the litigation he had against the mayor, confirming that the Friday hearing will no longer be necessary. Judson said Caul has also apologized to him for remarks Judson found to be improper.

Judson issued a statement following the meeting, saying the legal constraints governing the mayor’s office are well-known and should have been obvious, yet the mayor’s taxpayer-funded lawyers opposed this proceeding for the past five months.

He said while the acknowledgement ended the litigation, he is disappointed that it has taken six months to acknowledge that the head of council does not have the authority to unilaterally act for the municipality, cannot order staff or obstruct councillors, and cannot hold office as the CAO.

He also said local government meets its goals of transparency and maintaining public confidence when everyone does their job in accordance with law and that is how democratic accountability is maintained.

“Going forward, I trust that the mayor will constrain herself to the lawful scope of her duties. I have accepted her apology and am content to have this matter behind me,” Judson said in the statement following the council meeting.

“My focus is on the 2022 budget, making sure that it serves young families in our community, and advocating policy changes to help elect a more diverse and representative council later this year.”