FILE -- Former McKellar Ward coun. Robert Tuchenhagen.
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THUNDER BAY – A former McKellar councilor found guilty for having a conflict of interest in a land deal has reached the end of his legal road.
Furniture Recycle owner Gilles Mondoux filed a court application against former coun. Robert Tuchenhagen after he purchased a city-owned building in 2008. Mondoux believed Tuchenhagen’s acquisition of the building represented a conflict because of decisions he made while he was a councilor.
A judge agreed.
Tuchenhagen filed an appeal, but last week the Ontario Court of Appeal denied his request.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Tuchenhagen said when reached by tbnewswatch.com Friday. “Ultimately the appeals court chose not to hear the appeal so that’s the end of it. I asked my lawyer to find some place to appeal it to because I want this clarified. According to my lawyer there’s nowhere to appeal it to.
“I would have liked to have my case heard so the errors of law that my lawyer said could be addressed.”
The guilty verdict means Tuchenhagen is disqualified from being a member of city council for four years, although he admits that doesn’t impact him as he had stepped down from municipal politics voluntarily.
“I wasn’t planning on running and I didn’t even run in the last election,” he said. “From my point of view it’s a blemish on my reputation I would have liked to have been addressed.”
While there’s no legal avenue for Tuchenhagen, the legal discussion surrounding his case isn’t over.
Toronto-based lawyer George Rust-D'Eye has taken a look at the case and is now warning other attorneys that they should take notice. He said people should be concerned because he believes the interpretation of what constitutes a conflict of interest in this case is very broad.
“The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act says if a member of a municipal council has a conflict of interest, indirect or direct, than that councillor can’t do anything to influence the vote,” Rust-D'Eye said.
“In this case the councillor didn’t actually purchase any interest in the property and arguably had no financial interest property coming before council. At the time, he wasn’t in conflict. That’s the argument, which wasn’t accepted.
“In effect, potential interests could get the councillor in trouble.”
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