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Friday, October 9, 2015

Judge rules in Fort Macleod’s favour in lawsuit with Mayor

Town of Fort Macleod press release
  • Madam Justice K.D. Nixon files judgement on sanctioned Mayor’s lawsuit
Justice Nixon filed her ‘Reasons for Judgement’ document with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Lethbridge on October 8th, ruling in favour of the Town of Fort Macleod.

Madame Justice Nixon’s decision has confirmed that members of Fort Macleod Council acted fairly, appropriately, and in the best interest of the community at large, when they sanctioned Mayor Rene Gendre in June of 2014.


Further, Justice Nixon stated that Council’s actions were not for any improper purpose, as had been otherwise alleged by Mr. Gendre. The Judge asserted that Council has acted within its jurisdiction, and that the standard review of Council’s action is that it was due to the blatant unreasonableness of the Mayor’s behaviour.

As such, Justice Nixon determined that the Mayor’s claim that the bylaw he was sanctioned under, and any subsequent resolutions were invalid, and have been dismissed by the Court of Queen’s Bench.

The Court disagreed with the Mayor’s characterization of his conduct, determining that he was representing only his own views and not those of Council as a whole. The court also agreed that the imposed sanctions did not preclude Gendre from exercising his duties as an elected member of Council.

The case establishes a more important precedent for all Municipal Councils in the Province. The Court found that the provision of reasons for Council’s action after the sanctions were imposed was not, in fact, evidence of bad faith. In this case, Council had merely been attempting to provide the Mayor with further examples of this conduct that had been compromising the ability for Council to effectively govern the Town of Fort Macleod.

“A court must not interfere unless it can be said that a council’s actions were such that no reasonable council would take,” writes Justice Nixon. “That cannot be said of Council’s action here.”

“Council was faced with a difficult issue, which it sought to resolve in various ways. Council was in the best position to weigh the competing circumstances in the context of the history of the difficulties between the parties, in order to determine the governance structure that best addressed its needs,” concludes Justice Nixon.

“Council is pleased with the ruling in favour of the Town,” comments Brent Feyter, Deputy Mayor of the Town of Fort Macleod. “We are happy to have this issue put to rest and look forward to continuing to build on our already vibrant community - together.”

Gendre was initially sanctioned on June 26, 2014, with sanctions renewed by Council on January 26 and July 13, 2015. Sanctions will remain in place for the remainder of the six-month term, when Council will once again vote on whether or not the sanctions will remain in place.

Gendre filed his lawsuit against the Town of Fort Macleod and his fellow Council members on December 19, 2014.

The Court has provided 30 days from the date of the decision in which to speak to costs for both parties. Council will determine how to proceed with the costs incurred from Genre’s lawsuit at the October 13th Council Meeting, in camera.

The full document, Docket: 1406 00984 can be accessed in print at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Lethbridge, or via PDF on fortmacleod.com.

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