Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Go Joe Chan! Go Joe Chan! Go Joe Chan!"


Robert "Dapper" Tapper
Katz heads to court Tuesday
Conflict of interest lawsuit baseless, says mayor's attorney
By Joyanne Pursaga
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Joe Chan of Cathay House restaurant has launched a lawsuit against the mayor. (Winnipeg Sun)

Mayor Sam Katz heads to court Tuesday to face a lawsuit, the loss of which could get him kicked out of office.
Cathay House restaurant owner Joe Chan is suing Winnipeg's mayor over his decision to hold a holiday party for city council and staff at Hu's Asian Bistro in December 2010, a restaurant Katz owned at the time.
Critics say this is a conflict of interest because the mayor spent just under $3,000 in public cash at his own business.

"The conflict of interest (act) states you can't send business to yourself or your family and he own(ed) 100% of that business," said Chan. "I think it's wrong and somebody's got to stand up for it."

Chan claims he isn't going after money but wants the court to weigh in on the mayor's decision.

Katz declined a request to discuss the matter.

Previously, he described the accusation as baseless and unrelated to his role as mayor.

Katz's lawyer believes Manitoba's Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act wouldn't define the mayor's actions as a conflict.

"That statute deals with council or committee meetings," said Robert Tapper. "It has nothing to do with going to one's own restaurant."

Tapper has filed for sanctions, possibly monetary, against Chan. He alleges Chan violated confidentiality rules by disclosing a previous settlement offer and gave false evidence about how the offer came about.

A decision, however, is not guaranteed to occur Tuesday. Tapper said the judge could order additional court dates or reserve a ruling to a later date.

Daniel McIntyre Councillor Harvey Smith also joined the debate this week, after his attempt to post signs publicizing the court date was quashed by the city's public works department.

"Everyone in Winnipeg should be aware of the fact the mayor is in (an alleged) conflict and the mayor should be held accountable," said Smith.

Arthur Schafer, the Director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said he believes Winnipeg's mayor did violate The Act.

"I think it's almost indisputable that the mayor was in a conflict of interest because he was using taxpayer money to take councillors to a restaurant," said Schafer. "Whether it violates the law will be decided by the court."

Katz is not the first Canadian mayor to face such a legal battle.

A previous conflict of interest suit almost cost Toronto Mayor Rob Ford his seat last November, after Ford was found guilty of speaking about and voting on a report on how he raised money for a football charity. In January, an appeal court overturned that decision.

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