OPP Anti-Rackets Branch Investigation Remains Active

The Town of Collingwood will soon see the launch of initial steps to prepare for a Judicial Inquiry into the 2012 sale of 50 percent of Collus to PowerStream .

At the same time, the Town remains under the microscope of an active OPP Anti-Rackets Branch investigation.

On Tuesday March 6th, Staff Sergeant Carolle Dionne, Provincial Media Relations Coordinator with the Ontario Provincial Police confirmed to CollingwoodLiving.com that the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch Town of Collingwood investigation remains active.

“In answer to your questions, yes the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch investigation is still active. However, we can’t provide details on the content of the investigation. “

“There will be no duplication of efforts in work done by a judicial inquiry and investigative work being done by the OPP.”

While not able to comment on any details or the current status of the Collingwood OPP investigation, Dionne was able to tell us that the judicial inquiry launched by Collingwood Council would not in any way negatively impact the ongoing OPP investigation.

“I can provide some input on your comments about duplication involving the OPP investigation and the work of a pending judicial inquiry. Should a judicial inquiry commence in relation to the various aspects of the sale of Collus to PowerStream. The OPP investigation will not be negatively impacted in any way. There will be no duplication of efforts in work done by a judicial inquiry and investigative work being done by the OPP.”

On February 26, 2018, the Council of the Town of Collingwood passed a resolution to request a judicial inquiry be conducted, into the process undertaken in 2012 which resulted in the sale of 50% of Collus, the Town’s electric utility.

In a press release from the Town of Collingwood issued February 26th, it was stated that pursuant to section 274(1) of the Municipal Act, 2001, Council has the authority to request the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice appoint a judge to look into the process and other matters surrounding the transaction.

“Council believes that a judicial inquiry is the most effective, objective way to provide answers to a number of questions raised regarding the transaction, and to provide much needed transparency on the sale of one of the municipality’s biggest assets.”

Collingwood Council held an in-camera session at the beginning of its regular meeting on Monday February 26th. Immediately following the session, Council listened to a presentation by lawyer William. C. McDowell of the law firm Lenczner Slaght. The topic of Mr. McDowell’s presentation was a Hydro Share Sale Update.

Mr. McDowell responded to questions from councillors by saying he felt there are questions to be answered.

“Yes, I think that’s fair, whether you call them red flags or whether you say there are serious questions, yes there are serious questions.”

For a number of years Mr. McDowell was Associate Deputy Minister of Justice of Canada.

” … and in that capacity I both assisted with the design of a number of public enquiries and the oversight of recommendations and implementation of recommendations that were handed down. In August or so of 2015, I was asked by the then Chief Administrative Officer of Collingwood to do a high level review of the share purchase transaction of the utilities of Collingwood, the Collus group of companies.”

Mr. McDowell said upon the passage of the motion by council, the first step required would be to send a letter from Mayor Sandra Cooper as the head of council to the Chief Justice, attaching a resolution formally requesting that a judge be appointed to conduct the inquiry.

“It will take the Chief Justice a little bit of time to pick the judge. The judge will take some time to pick his or her Chief Counsel and other lawyers and then there would be a meeting if I had to guess probably in 30 or 45 days between the Town of Collingwood’s lawyers and the lawyers to the commission to discuss the steps thereafter. There would be a hearing to decide who is formally going to be granted party status in the inquiry. There would be a call for the production of documents and the delivery of summonses or subpoenas as they are often known, and I would anticipate that if the judge proceeds in the way that he or she is requested to proceed and that is to do a documentary review and then focused hearings, I wouldn’t think those hearings would begin until 2019.”

The passing of the motion by Collingwood Council to launch a Judicial Inquiry has triggered extensive local, provincial and national media attention.

Now we have confirmation that in addition, the Town of Collingwood remains under an active OPP Anti-Rackets Branch investigation.

CLICK HERE to return to News Headlines