Saskatoon city councillor could be forced to step down over late campaign paperwork
SASKATOON -- Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill may be required to resign his seat after failing to meet a deadline to disclose campaign contributions and expenses.
Hill was the only elected councillor who was late filing statements on campaign contributions and expenses, according to a report going before City Council on Monday.
The report says the statements were required to be filed by Feb. 16. A copy of the declaration form shows it was signed by Hill on March 4. Campaign contributions and expenses were each declared as $14,997.46.
In an interview, Hill said the reason for the late filing relates to health issues and along with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Feb. 1, 2021. And I experienced almost every symptom attributed to COVID including brain fog. And I have not fully recovered to this day,” he said.
He said it has been a slow recovery to be free from all symptoms. Hill also said he’s been dealing with the recovery of a traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2016.
“As a result, it was these health issues that precluded me from filing within the prescribed time limit. And I did indicate that to the returning officer when I did file.”
The report is included in the agenda for the next City Council meeting scheduled for Monday.
The report cites Section 24 of the Campaign Disclosure and Spending Limits Bylaw, which says candidates guilty of breaking the bylaw by not filing on time face a maximum fine of $5,000 and further fines if the offence continues.
Section 25 of the bylaw says an elected candidate who violates the bylaw is disqualified from council and must resign immediately. The bylaw says an exception is if a Court of Queen’s Bench Judge deems the disqualification as an honest mistake.
“In addition to the penalties set out in Section 24, if a candidate who is elected contravenes any provision of this Bylaw, the candidate is disqualified from Council and shall resign immediately,” according to section 25, Subsection One of the bylaw.
Subsection two says: “Notwithstanding subsection (1), where on application a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench is of the opinion that the disqualification of the candidate arose through inadvertence or by reason of an honest mistake, the candidate shall not be required to resign.”
According to the report, prosecution under section 24, which outlines the fines, is initiated by the returning officer. It says City Council must provide direction under the section that stipulates a resignation.
“The violation under section 25 of the bylaw requires direction and action from Council related to Councillor Hill, who was elected, failed to meet the disclosure requirements, and has not yet resigned as is required under the Bylaw,” the report says.
In an email statement to CTV News, Mayor Charlie Clark said: “Council has been provided legal options and is following due process. Councillor Hill will have the opportunity to address Council on Monday and we will make a decision then.”
The report says candidates were sent emails from the returning officer reminding them of the requirement to submit completed disclosure forms by the deadline.