Annual General Meeting October 2019
CHAIRMAN'S ANNUAL REPORT
October 18, 2019
Dear Directors and supporters of the Canadian Justice Review Board (CJRB);
Over the past year the CJRB's long running appeal to the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) concerning transparency at the Assessment Review Board (ARB) was concluded. Although the Rules of the ARB state clearly that decisions of the ARB are freely available for review, after two years of deliberation the IPC decided that the Ministry can charge search fees that can make transparency cost prohibitive. The matter concerned about 75 decisions of ARB associate chairman Paul Muldoon which purported an ability to cancel decisions of other ARB adjudicators. We believe that the cancelled decisions favoured the taxpaying property owner According to some written submissions from lawyer Donald Mitchell the ARB has no inherent jurisdiction to review its own decisions. Mr. Mitchell often acts for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). His submissions to the ARB appear to be consisted with the well settled principle that no judge has jurisdiction to contradict the decision of a brother judge and would mean that the ARB's "review" decisions such as those from Mr. Muldoon amount to nothing. The original ARB decisions should stand because the Assessment Act states that the sole jurisdiction to hear appeals rests with Divisional Court. Consequently, and as described in our past chairman the late Ted DeCoste's annual report, the conduct of the ARB's top brass may well suggest and raise a reasonable apprehension of a bias against taxpaying property owners.
Our colleague Al Rosen has continued to provide thoughtful articles about the lack of accounting standards prevalent in Canada which put the investments of the public at risk.
Our colleague Allison Koojiman has continued her efforts to provide justice for people who suffer from damages arising from medical errors. As mentioned in last year's report she became co-chair of 'Patients for Patient's Safety Canada' and corresponded with the B.C. minister of health in an effort to re-direct existing funds to that end. On September 17, 2019 she was a panelist at the CAE symposium held to commemorate the first annual World Health Organization (WHO) 'Patient Safety Day' . Tom Blackwell, senior reporter at the National Post moderated the interactive 4-person panel discussion with live audience and viewer questions.
Our colleague Terry Green drew attention to the City of Ottawa transit authority about the lack of adequate transit for visually impaired people which prompted some significant improvements. On a sad note, we were very sorry to learn that Terry's wife passed away suddenly earlier this year. On behalf of the Board I express our condolences. Terry has indicated that he will be taking some time away but wish to continue receiving the CJRB's quarterly reports as a past director and will continue to provide opinion and commentary.
Our colleague Elizabeth Marshall has been compiling information about the renewable energy electricity contracts between Ontario and the Korea Consortium. In Ontario the contracting for wind turbines and solar cells has been linked to skyrocketing electricity rates that cause hardship for many. Elizabeth was approached by an anti-wind group and prepared a report for them demonstrating how the province could remove these contracts without penalties. MPP Randy Pettipeace asked, when she presented at a committee hearing on the Fair Hydro Plan Act, if she knew of any way the contracts could be cancelled. She has advise the Anti-wind group to contact MPP Pettipeace’s office with the document. Over the past year Elizabeth continued to investigate the activities of the various Ontario conservation authorities which are seen as "overreaching" their authority. She was pleased to receive the following acknowledgment from Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek. Mr. Yurek appears to confirm that these conservation authorities need to focus on delivering their core mandate rather than empire building by overreaching into activities such as ziplining, festivals, photography and wedding permits etc.
“Dear Ms. Marshall:
Thank you for your email about conservation authorities (CAs), and I acknowledge receipt of the two reports attached to your message.
CAs have a role in protecting residents and property from flooding and other natural hazards.
Over the years, CAs have expanded their roles and responsibilities into activities such as ziplining, maple syrup festivals, and photography and wedding permits. Due to the potential for more extreme weather events that could threaten our homes, businesses and infrastructure, it is important that CAs refocus on delivering their core mandate. At the same time, we must ensure we are using taxpayer dollars more efficiently.
Accordingly, our government passed Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, which received Royal Assent on June 6, 2019. Our government will modernize the Conservation Authorities Act by clarifying the core mandate of CAs, updating how they use municipal levies and fees to pay for programs and services, and streamlining the role CAs play in municipal planning to make approvals faster and less costly. Our aim is to ensure that we improve overall governance, oversight and accountability of CAs.
We are giving municipalities greater control and the ability to enter into agreements with CAs to fund any programs and services outside of the core mandate, if they choose.
As I made clear in my August 16, 2019 letter to CAs, I will be reviewing all of the relevant legislation and regulations that govern Ontario’s CAs with an eye to focusing their efforts on their core mandate.
Bringing CAs back to their core mandate will allow for municipalities to better manage CA budgets and programs. The legislative changes we have made ensure CAs focus on delivering core services and programs that protect communities from natural hazards and flooding while using taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively.
Thank you again for bringing these two reports to my attention.
Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks”
Elizabeth is now preparing a report concerning the health care system in Ontario.
Our colleague Glenn Lucas assisted greatly in preparing a Report and covering letter which I sent to the new Premier of Ontario the Honourable Douglas Ford. The Report concerned the operations of the Assessment Review Board of Ontario (ARB). The ARB is a quasi judicial tribunal established by provincial legislation which was broadly criticized by the Auditor General of Ontario for its slow and wasteful practices under the former Ontario government. The CJRB's Report contained a number of exhibits to show where cost saving might be achieved, including adopting the Nova Scotia market value assessment system which generates very few appeals, and therefore far less government expense. Although the government response has been non-committal, at least one of the associate chairmen cited in the CJRB Report was subsequently removed. Moreover, it appears the ARB has busied itself drafting new rules of procedure. Unfortunately it appears that the new rules have some draconian features...stay tuned. Our point in bringing these matters to the attention of Premier Ford flows from the fact that the ARB is not a self created body with original powers, but nevertheless it appears to have an interest of self preservation. Consequently some push back is expected to any government initiatives to trim the fat.
For my part, I can say that securities commissions in Canada are also quasi judicial institutions created by provincial legislatures. They are supposed to protect the public. If they were doing their job then the average investor would not be faced with the "bait and switch" misrepresentations that are far too common. I believe there are hundreds if not thousands of examples where "security commissions" issue "permission slips" that allow exemptions to laws that are intended to protect the public, leaving the public totally unaware and unprotected. These practices have cut many people's retirement funds in half. Therefore I have written to the Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Ontario Legislative offices, including the Public Interest Commissioners and Ombudsman seeking an investigation of these so-called securities commissions. Given the political implications, and the large and influential corporate interests that exist in preserving the status quo, I was not surprised by some of the initial responses. However, I intend to continue pressing the issue and hope to receive positive responses in the new year.
Our colleague and executive director William Nichol reports that at the end of September he met with our colleague retired judge Wallace Craig in Vancouver. Wallace drove from his home on Vancouver's north shore and picked Mr. Nichol up for a tour of the Fraser View Golf Club followed by lunch. Wallace is compiling a summary of the cases he decided during his time as a provincial criminal court judge. Wallace's many Op-Ed articles published in the 'North Shore News' have been archived on the CJRB website, and if practical, his court case summary could likewise be archived for posterity.
I am very pleased to welcome lawyer David Franklin B.Comm., JD as a director elect to our Board. David comes to the Board with a wealth of experience and information about real estate investments and shady mortgage practices and has long been concerned that these practices have caused considerable losses to the investing public.
I am grateful for the assistance that I have received from the other directors of the CJRB in pursuing our common goal of improving the justice system so that it returns to delivering the protections that it should provide for all Canadians and so that the administration of justice is not cast into disrepute. The information posted on the CJRB website and on Facebook has been well received and read by an ever growing number of people across the country. I look forward to achieving more in the upcoming year