Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Councillor Greves Wants Legal Advice

Possible Conflict Of Interest?

City Councillor Ted Greves brought a motion at the Feb. 6 FPCOW which directs staff to prepare a report outlining options for the City to assist Council members who are seeking legal advice on conflict of interest.

Councillor Greves received $16,350 in campaign contributions during the recent civic election, $16,000 of that came from either CUPE or IAFF contributions, both of which are trade unions.

Councillor Greves was also the union president of Local 905 of IAFF and I believe at one time was their bargaining agent with the city of Nanaimo.

The last civic election saw Councillor Greves elected with 10.8% of the eligible vote getting a total number of votes of 6962 out of a possible 64,057.

Just what the threshold is for conflict of interest is something I hope to pursue but it appears to be one of those slippery subjective issues open for miles of room for debate.

Last term, you may recall, on the basis of an anonymous complaint to city hall, city council decided to find that Councillor Bestwick was in a conflict over the Boston Pizza sign saga. Bestwick hired lawyers at a cost of $14,000. Some of his legal fees were reimbursed in one of those in-camera meetings that are a trademark of council.

If some anonymous person were to complain to city hall that due to union affiliation, and considerable financial support from unions, there would appear to be a conflict of interest on decisions (such as wage contracts) involving the unions supporting his campaign, I am not sure what tack city hall and city council would take dealing with the matter.

I doubt we have heard the end of this one, as I presume local unions also strongly support other members of council and whether or not that would put them in a conflict when it comes to making decisions, such as giving staff a 6% wage increase rather than holding the line as senior governments are doing, is a question that needs addressing.

You might also fairly question if anyone owning property in the downtown area would appear to be in a conflict when responsible for directing tax dollars towards projects designed to increase the value of our downtown.



  1. The city has a very good conflict of interest policy which everyone -- including Nanaimo's press -- pretends doesn't exist or is irrelevant.

    There is no need to higher expensive legal talent to interpret this policy. All that is necessary is for councilors and staff to take it seriously and for the press to quit playing silly games.

    That's a tall order, admittedly, but it perhaps helps to explain why 75% of the electorate sits on its hands, believing councils will do whatever they feel like doing on any given day -- bylaws, policies and the OCP notwithstanding.

  2. Correction for comment just posted: that should be "hire" not "higher" in the first line of paragraph two.


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