UPDATED: No decision today Kings County election challenge in Supreme Court

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Kentville Court.

UPDATED Dec. 10, 4:20 p.m.

 

There will be no decision today in the Supreme Court challenge of candidate disqualifications in the recent municipal election.

Justice Gregory Warner adjourned the matters at the conclusion of closing arguments Dec. 10 indicating he could give an oral decision on short notice. He asked if counsel would be available on short notice over the next two weeks. An oral decision would be quicker to deliver than a written decision.

"I would like to get a decision out quicker," Warner said.

In giving his closing arguments, Douglas Lutz said disqualified candidates Jim Winsor and Rick Ackland were appointed by county council to their respective positions on the county trails committee and Grand View Manor board and were paid remuneration. This makes them office holders as far as the Municipal Elections Act is concerned and they therefore weren't qualified to stand as candidates in the election without resigning the positions or taking leave.

Lutz said there seems to be unfairness built into the act for those who are current councillors and those who are not, but this is irrelevant to the current case. Lutz said he truly believes the candidates felt they were qualified but the onus was on them to be correct.

"There's been an effort to point the finger at the returning officer but someone should be looking in the mirror," Lutz said.

He said there would have been another form if legal challenge if the candidates had been allowed to run. The returning officer was trying to ensure the election was conducted in accordance with the principles of the Municipal Elections Act by disqualifying the candidates, he added. Lutz said he sees a difference between not rejecting a nomination paper after it has been accepted and not having the ability as returning officer to disqualify candidates after the fact if it's determined he or she was ineligible to run.

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UPDATED Dec. 10, 1:20 p.m.

 

Court has recessed for lunch in the Supreme Court challenge of the disqualification of two county council candidates in the recent municipal election.    

 

David Daniels, representing applicants Rick Ackland, Jim Winsor and Nancy Saul-Demers, gave his closing arguments before the break. He argues Winsor and Ackland were not municipal office holders in their respective roles as citizen appointees on the county trails committee and Grand View Manor  board. They were volunteers, unable to spend municipal funds. Daniels argued the Grand View Manor board is not a municipal entity, although Justice Gregory Warner pointed out the manor was incorporated by the municipality and municipal council makes appointments to the board.    

 

"I have some problem with that argument, it's stretching it," Warner said.     Daniels argued Section 48 of the Municipal Elections Act states a returning officer can't reject a nomination after accepting and signing off on it but that was the case with Winsor and Ackland.    

 

Daniels said the involvement in the situation of county chief administrator Bob Ashley is "at best troubling."    

 

Daniels argued the disqualified candidates were not afforded an opportunity to be heard by the returning officer before she made the decision to disqualify them. Daniels said he would suggest the irregularities involved impugn the integrity of the election outcome.    

 

Closing arguments from Douglas Lutz, counsel for Ashley and Archibald, is expected to make closing arguments when proceedings resume at 1:30 p.m.

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UPDATED Dec. 10, 11:55 a.m.

The court is on a brief recess before closing arguments in the Supreme Court legal challenge of candidate disqualifications.    

Before the break, returning officer Heather Archibald gave testimony.    

"At the end of the day, it comes down to the retuning officer," Archibald said of decisions pertaining to municipal elections.    

She said she had a day of training from the province but this was the first time she had served as a municipal returning officer.    

Archibald said she has read the Municipal Elections Act but said she doesn't know it by heart. She said she made the decision to disqualify the candidates after meeting with the county's solicitor.    

She said she learned after accepting the nominations Ackland and Winsor served on committees and received remuneration.    

Archibald said she is aware of the section of the Municipal Elections Act that states a nomination shouldn't be rejected after being accepted by the returning officer. She said, to her, that would mean not to reject a legitimate nomination paper.

 

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County of Kings lawyer Douglas Lutz cross examined disqualified candidates Jim Winsor and Rick Ackland this morning.    

 

Winsor said he was certain he didn't hold office with the municipality as a citizen member of the municipal trails committee appointed by county council and didn't feel that disqualified him from running for council.    

 

"I did not see how I was an office holder," Winsor said.    

 

Ackland said he was certain his service on the board of Grand View Manor would not disqualify him from being a candidate. Therefore, he didn't seek a leave of absence from the board from the county CAO or resign his position before seeking nomination as a council candidate.    

 

Ackland said he told the returning officer he was on the board.    

 

Both said they received stipends for serving as citizen appointees, but viewed the positions as voluntary and advisory in nature.    

 

Winsor, Ackland and citizen Nancy Saul-Demers launched recently a Supreme Court challenge of the disqualification of Winsor and Ackland as candidates in the Oct. 20 municipal election.

 

Keep checking www.kingscountynews.ca for updates throughout the day and pick up the Thursday edition of The Register for the full coverage. 

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Kings

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