Council cleared in closed meeting complaint

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EMBRUN – Township of Russell council and staff have been cleared of any wrongdoing following a complaint registered to the Ontario Ombudsman last fall. During the March 1 council meeting, local politicians officially “received for information purposes” a letter from Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé dated Feb. 23. The letter referenced an investigation into a complaint about a closed session during an online council meeting held on Sept. 8, 2020. The complainant alleged that the closed session did not meet Municipal Act exceptions. The five-page letter, which can be found in the March 1 agenda package, outlined the Ombudsman’s findings and how they related to the Municipal Act. After a brief background on the situation, Mayor Pierre Leroux read the Ombudsman’s conclusion. “Council discussed personal matters of identifiable individuals and the potential for litigation in relation to a zoning issue, as well as related legal advice, when it went into closed session on Sept. 8, 2020. I am satisfied that the subject matters discussed fell within the exceptions cited for closed meeting discussions,” Dubé said. “The matters also fell within the additional exception for solicitor-client privilege.”

Sandy Caseelman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chesterville Record