Stettler County councillor puts conflict issue to rest

Lawyer says that councillor was not in conflict of interest on a controversial vote

A Stettler County councillor accused of conflict of interest is putting the matter to rest.

Last December, council voted to censure Coun. Ernie Gendre, alleging he improperly voted on a water line project on which his son later was sub-contracted to do some work.

Gendre insists that he had did nothing wrong and did not know at the time of the vote that his son would later work on the project.

He sought legal advice and presented a seven-page letter from municipal lawyer Gayle Langford to council on Wednesday.

Langford says Gendre did not vote improperly.

“In my opinion, at the relevant time of the vote, the facts as set out below do not support a finding of conflict of interest or administrative bias that influenced Ernie Gendre’s decision to vote in favour of administration’s recommendation,” Langford says.

Council’s finding that Gendre had a “pecuniary interest” in the project does not meet the legal test of “reasonable apprehension of bias,” she says.

Langford did say Gendre showed “poor judgment” in previously recommending his son’s company to firms that were considering doing business with the county.

Langford says council should have dealt with “their own perception of bias in their duty of care to be fair in their investigation before issuing a very public statement that in effect defames and slanders a fellow council member.”

Gendre said on Thursday he accepts the lawyer’s findings but has no intention of pursuing legal action against the county or council.

He presented the letter to council as information and no further action was taken.

“I found there were a lot of things in (the letter) we as council can learn by and teach others.”

County Reeve Wayne Nixon said council also believes it’s time to move on.

“As far as council is concerned it should be a past issue and we move forward from here.”

Nixon said in his opinion council was doing its due diligence in handling the issue the way it did.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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