Hill can stay on council, as late campaign filings inadvertent: judge
Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill can remain a member of City Council, a judge ruled Thursday.
Justice Richard Danyluik found that Hill breached his campaign financial disclosure obligations by failing to file by Feb. 16, 2021.
According to the election and campaign expense disclosure bylaw, an elected official who violates it is disqualified from council and must resign immediately. However, Council had referred the decision to the courts.
Danyluik found the breach was the “result of inadvertence,” so Hill can remain.
Hill has said that health issues, including a COVID-19 and an earlier brain injury, played a part in his late filing.
“Frankly, had Mr. Hill suffered a serious heart incident or been diagnosed with cancer in early February 2021 and therefore been late with filing his disclosure as a result of symptoms and treatment, I have doubts that we would be here at all or that the matter would have been referred to this Court for a decision,” Danyluik wrote.
“But because a significant component of Mr. Hill’s difficulties involved him being unwell mentally and emotionally, I have sensed a decided lack of acceptance that this could cause him to be late with his filing.
“Just because you do not understand something does not mean it is untrue. Perhaps this case give us all an opportunity not only for introspection, but to gain a better understanding of mental health issues and their insidious and debilitating nature.”
The Judge also questioned city council’s decision to refer the issue to the court, instead of deciding itself whether Darren Hillshould keep his seat.
“The City has opted to pursue a course that has an appointed official effectively deciding whether the person that citizens elected as their municipal representative should remain such. Put another way, some appointed guy (me) can decide to get rid of a duly elected public officer without ever being accountable for that decision.” The Judge wrote in his ruling.
The judge added he understands the legislation allows the issue to be referred to the court. However, he said it doesn't mean he would “stand by silently and simply act only as a referee.”
Mayor Charlie Clark said in a statement: "I am glad to have a decision. City Council followed due process and now we can proceed with greater certainty in our city governance."