Stop Our Sanctions! - Rocky View Taxpayers Are Without Effective Representation
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21% of $100k goal
105 contributors
46 Weeks running

Restore Democracy to Rocky View County

How did we get here?

Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Samanntha Wright are all first-term Councillors in Rocky View County. Between them, they represent over 40% of the County’s population. They won their seats in October 2017 campaigning for better decision-making and stronger representation for County residents.

As elected officials, they champion issues important to all Rocky View residents. These issues range from financial accountability to procedural transparency to sustainable development.

What happened?

Last fall, when Council hired its new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), these three Councillors had serious concerns with the way the CAO hiring process unfolded. It didn’t sit well with them that the Council majority would fill a $235,000/year position after only one interview.

In an unusual departure from best practices, the Council majority bypassed the headhunters retained for the search. Prior to the negotiation, Hanson, Kissel, and Wright had requested that an employment lawyer review the contract. Instead, over one weekend, the Reeve negotiated the CAO's contract with the candidate supplying his own signed contract in response.

The County announced the CAO's hiring in October, even though the necessary resolution to approve his contract did not occur until-mid December. The CAO was approved on a 5-4 vote of council.

Hanson, Kissel & Wright react

Since the hiring process had not followed provincial guidelines, the three Councillors asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for advice. They were advised to seek independent legal counsel.

By following Municipal Affairs’ recommendation, Hanson, Kissel and Wright started down a road that ultimately resulted in their colleagues imposing extremely punitive sanctions on them.

Sanctions imposed!

The sanctions are penalty for seeking the recommended legal advice; attempting to carry out that advice through the introduction of a CAO hiring policy; and, for exercising their freedom of speech by writing a letter to the editor.

Relevant legislation makes it clear that sanctions cannot stop an elected official from performing his/her legislated duties. However, the sanctions imposed on Hanson, Kissel and Wright do just that – make it virtually impossible for them to do their jobs.

As a result, all residents in Division 3 (Elbow Valley / Springbank), Division 8 (Bearspaw) and Division 9 (Cochrane North) now face taxation without effective representation. The council majority has refused all attempts for mediation. This cannot be allowed to continue.

The fallout

Hanson, Kissel and Wright stand behind their actions - to bring transparency and accountability to questionable council process.  The three Councillors are standing up to the bullying from their colleagues. As such, Hanson, Kissel and Wright are now left with no option other than to challenge their sanctions at the Court of Queen's Bench.

How can you help?

The majority on Council is using your tax dollars to silence the three Councillors. Hanson, Kissel and Wright are David to their Goliath. They need your financial support to continue their legal battle, so they can return to representing you effectively. The results of their legal challenge could help repave the landscape for Canadian municipal politics.

   Please contribute! Help protect democracy and freedom of speech!

WHAT ARE THEIR SANCTIONS?

  • Zero access to all staff including the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), except during regularily scheduled twice-monthly council meetings

  • Removal from all boards and committees (list of Rocky View Boards and Committees)

  • Restrictions on their ability to represent residents at County-related conferences, meetings, events and activities

  • 30% loss of wages

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

  • In sanctioning our three elected representatives, the majority on Council has effectively sanctioned the taxpayers.

  • While elected by their divisions, Councillors represent and make decisions for the entire County. This is not Democracy!

MAKING GOOD ON ELECTION PROMISES

"I ran on a commitment to all residents of Rocky View County - to listen to their opinions and suggestions. I want to rebuild the faith that Rocky View councillors are working in the residents' best interests." - Councillor Crystal Kissel

“I’m not sure anyone truly realizes that it’s municipal politics that touches them on a daily basis. My diverse professional background and board experience provides me with a unique perspective on governing - one that values accountability above all else."  - Councillor Kevin Hanson

"It is at the local level of politics where individuals should have the most say over what goes on around them. It is imperative that Council operates under complete transparency and that residents are represented by someone who reflects their values and puts them first." - Councillor Samanntha Wright

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Hanson, Kissel and Wright have already spent over $25,000 of their own money to challenge questionable council actions, and defend themselves against these questionable and brutal sanctions.

  • Since the Minister of Municipal Affairs has refused multiple requests to intervene, the only way for these Councillors to contest their sanctions is through the Court of Queen’s Bench.
  • They need your financial support to fight the injustice of these sanctions so they can continue to provide effective representation for all Rocky View residents.

  • Challenging the sanctions in Court is expensive. Help fund this worthy cause and bring democracy back to Rocky View County.

HOW WILL YOUR MONEY BE SPENT?

Monies raised will be used to pay for Hanson, Kissel and Wright’s legal fees to fund this legal challenge, and minor incidental fundraising overhead costs.  All receipts and expenditures will be posted to this site at regular intervals.  To see costs to date, please click here. In the event any monies raised exceed their actual costs, anything over $1000 will be proportionately distributed back to their contributors. Anything under $1000 will be donated to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT

Verbal arguments supporting the written submissions in the application were made in front of Justice Eamon. The Judge was very well prepared and asked many penetrating questions of both lawyers, but more so of the County lawyer. It was obvious that he was well versed in the material, and had done his background homework. He posed many hypothetical situations during his questioning for clarity.

Representing the County was their lawyer Janice Agrios from Edmonton, and attending the hearing was Kent Robinson, Executive Director, Corporate Services. None of the parties named in the application - namely CAO Hoggan, or any of the other 6 Councillors were present any time during the judicial review.

Representing the Sanctioned Councillors were their two lawyers from Carscallen LLP, Michael Niven, and Michael Custer. The 3 Sanctioned Councillors were in attendance, as well as a number of Rocky View ex-Councillors. In addition to about 20 other concerned Rocky View Residents, the 3 Sanctioned Councillors' original lawyer Chris Davis, who helped them in questioning the lawfulness of the CAO hiring process, was also present. 

There is a lot of interest in this case across all of Alberta.

TIMELINE

June 11, 2019 - Sanctions Imposed

August 8 - Application for Injunction filed with Court of Queen's Bench with a September 18th date

August 24 - Injunction served to County with Affidavits from Hanson, Kissel, and Wright

September 18 - Initial Court date set by Hanson, Kissel, and Wright's legal team

October 10 - Agreed Court date satisfactory for County Lawyers

November 16 - Supplemental Affidavits filed detailing actual impacts of Sanctions

January 22, 2020 - Court of Queens Bench - Judicial Review - Honourable Justice J.T. Eamon

First Week of March - The latest a decision is expected

BUDGET

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Still Not Convinced?

A commentary essay from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy that thoughtfully discusses the situation in Rocky View https://fcpp.org/2019/08/14/weaponizing-political-censure-to-silence-dissent/

A backgrounder from our friends at RockyViewSOS for detailed commentary on sanctions

Look to CountyNewsOnline for objective Journalism on Rocky View County

Background on Justice J.T. Eamon: Gowlings News Release - WLG Partner Named to Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

 

 

 

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