William C. McDowell

Many Collingwood citizens watching and hearing about the events leading up to council’s decision to launch a judicial inquiry into the 2012 sale of 50 percent of the town’s utility to PowerStream had never heard of lawyer William McDowell.

Mr. McDowell has held many prestigious positions as one of this country’s leading lawyers and has participated in many high profile cases.

The Town of Collingwood hired Mr. McDowell to look into details of the 2012 sale of 50% of Collus to PowerStream.

He presented his findings at the regular council meeting on Monday February 26th.

“For a number of years I 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. And so I reviewed a number of documents, several banker’s boxes worth of documents, and the purpose of the review was to provide recommendations as to whether or not it would be in the public interest of the citizens of Collingwood to have a more formal inquiry of the matters with which the transaction was concerned. It is my tentative conclusion that council may wish to consider a more formal inquiry namely an inquiry pursuant to section 274 of the Municipal Act.”

At one point during Monday evening’s council presentation, Councillor Bob Madigan asked Mr. McDowell to outline his background to give the public a better understanding of his accomplishments to date.

“I have been a litigation lawyer, I guess I’m in my 31st year of doing that. I practiced at McCarthy & McCarthy, later McCarthy Tétrault until 2005. In 2005 I became Associate Deputy Minister of Justice for Canada dealing with, among other things, central agencies, civil litigation and national security questions, and in that capacity I dealt with the Arar inquiry (he is the joint recipient of a Department of Justice National Award for his work in resolving the Maher Arar vs. Canada case) with the Air India inquiry, the Milgaard inquiry and others.“

In 2008, McCarthy was appointed by the Chief Justice of Ontario to mediate issues arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Inquiry into Aboriginal residential schools. He was subsequently appointed to an Amicus role by the Superior Court in connection with a series of land occupations in Brantford.

Mr. McDowell also acted as counsel to a corporate party in the 2002-2003 Waterloo judicial inquiry and in 2009 he was named Chief Commission Counsel to the City of Mississauga Judicial Inquiry, which delivered its report in October 2011.

“I am now the Lead Commission Counsel to the Wettlaufer inquiry looking in to the serial murders of the nursing home patients in southwestern Ontario.”

The Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry was established on August 1, 2017, by Order in Council Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s conviction of eight counts of first degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault; offences she committed while working as a registered nurse in Long-Term Care Homes.

Mr. McDowell has also been honoured by the University of Toronto for many years of volunteer efforts on behalf of his alma mater. He is a frequent contributor to professional conferences as a speaker as well as a writer and has taught trial advocacy at Queen’s University and Osgoode Hall law schools.

Eight Lenczner Slaght litigators including William McDowell have been recognized by their peers and senior members of the legal profession for their excellence in Corporate Commercial Litigation in the 2018 Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.

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