Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz to learn fate in conflict of interest ruling

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Mayor Sam Katz hosted a Christmas party for city councillors at Hu's Asian Bistro in 2010. He owned the restaurant at the time and paid the $3,000 tab with taxpayers' money.

It is the day of reckoning for Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, who will learn this afternoon whether he will be removed from office in a conflict of interest case that spans back nearly three years.

Katz has been accused of using public funds for personal benefit, and will learn on Friday whether Queen’s Bench Justice Brenda Keyser agrees with his accusers.

The conflict of interest allegation stemmed from a city hall Christmas party in 2010, which was held in Hu’s Asian Bistro, a restaurant Katz owned at the time.

A $3,084.35 bill was racked up by city councillors and department heads. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, invitations to the party came from the mayor’s office and the bill was paid for with public money.

Restaurateur Joe Chen, backed by human rights lawyer David Matas, claim it was inappropriate to hold the party at the financial benefits of Katz’s restaurant.

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Katz’s lawyer Robert Tapper maintains the mayor did not breach Manitoba's Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act. He further claimed Chen muddied the waters of the trial by publicly discussing a settlement offer and urging a reporter to say they received the information from another source.

Earlier this year Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, temporarily lost his job for breaching conflict of interest laws. Ford was found guilty of impropriety for debating a council request that he return donations to his private charity, which he had collected while using his clout as a city official.

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Ford’s guilty verdict was later overturned at a higher court and he was permitted to stay on as mayor.

London Mayor Joe Fontana also faces a probe into alleged misspending during his time as a federal politician. And Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is in the midst of her own conflict hearing related to her support for a development deal with her son’s construction company.