Bluewater mayor accused of conflict of interest over wind development

By Vanessa Brown, Shoreline Advance

A conflict of interest complaint has been filed against the mayor of Bluewater in light of his alleged personal involvement with wind development in the municipality.  In his complaint – filed at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Goderich on June 22 – Bluewater resident William MacDougall alleged that Bluewater Mayor Bill Dowson, who is cited as the respondent, on May 16 participated in debate and voted on a resolution to charge wind developers $25,000 per future turbine erected in the municipality without declaring a pecuniary interest. Read article

31 thoughts on “Bluewater mayor accused of conflict of interest over wind development

  1. Well done William…
    I dont live in Bluewater but the motorcade picture reminded me of Animal Farm. Some are more equal than others….especially the uncanny resemblence of the villianous character.

    • ……oh, you’re funny!
      How true – the pic is hilarious.

  2. not trying to be funny….ok maybe a little. Dont mean to take the focus off a very serious issue.

  3. …..well now, it just gets curioser and curiouser…..

    • Yes Jimmy. You are correct. Look at the bright side. If there is any integrity in the Goderich Superior Court…..his days as mayor are numbered. There is no room in Ontario for a dukes of hazzard mayor.

      • In Ontario – hopefully, we still – are innocent till proven guilty.
        So let’s keep our heads.
        A charge of this nature, certainly raises a few eyebrows.

        I’m just laughing – because the pic is so funny……….and,
        hey – I’m only human.
        Every time I look at the pic – I start snorting my coffee.

        It’s probably save to assume his career as a local politician is over.
        I do believe – it is a very serious charge.

  4. Don’t rule out the ones that have been bought off.

  5. Concern for Mr Dowson goes beyond that vote on the fee per turbine vote in May. Last Oct at Huron County Comittee of the Whole he gave a glowing personal reference for Mr Chuck Edey who had just made a 25 minute presentation to Council about the two projects he is ramroding for American Wind Aliance.
    Mr Dowson’s “testimonial” came at the end of what was supposed to have been a question period. It was certainly an inappropriate use of his position on County Council. Chuck even thanked him for the “character reference”.
    This spring at the COTW while Mr Dowson was acting as chair he repeatedly tried to stop a presentation that contained content showing the amount of IWT development pressure Huron County was facing, by insisting on a strict 10 minute limit on the presentation. Council actually was forced to vote in favour of allowing the presentation to finish.
    A curious double standard by Huron County Council considering “a developer” had been given unlimited time and a happy ad by Mr Dowson.

  6. This is why we need a legal fund folks….Mike Traynor appointed deputy mayor in the Municipality of Meaford voted against a moratorium on IWTs in this area while in conflict of interest , as was in the process of putting some on his land , WCM shied away from taking him to task when I suggested going in together and taking him to court.
    I understand the costs…we all have to put food on the table. But we have to put money together to fight these kinds of corruption because when nothing happens..the message is clear.
    We will get away with it

  7. Readers/commenters of this article should know MacDougall has a personal vendetta against Dowson – this is politics at its worst. Dowson is a good mayor and in the years I’ve lived in Bluewater I’ve seen him meeting with constituents and truly listening to what is being said and taking action on what’s he’s heard and promised! The same could not have been said of MacDougall over the same time period. Oh yes folks – MacDougall was a Councillor until local residents so infuriated by his underhanded tactics and block voting behaviour at council meetings worked to get him unseated.

    The photo of Dowson was taken from the recent Grand Bend Canada Day parade – which also had Lambton Shores mayor Bill Weber and our local MP Bev Shipley riding in vehicles. This is not “Animal Farm”, rather Dowson was performing a public duty for which he was requested by the parade organizer.

    I’m not a wind energy supporter. I also know that Dowson works hard to balance his business life as a local farmer with his role as mayor. Keep in mind in this area many farmers have signed lease agreements – especially dating back to 2006/2008 – that does not make them bad people – nor does it mean their decision today – if approached by a wind turbine company – would be the same. I’m not a fan of MacDougall – but I support his position on wind turbines! We live and work in a small town – there are going to be conflicts of interest naturally arising from that duality of activity – its how we manage them that’s key. In fact, I’m probably in a conflict of interest just writing my opinion here.

    • BR:

      I appreciate and understand your position. Just a comment or two. First people should read this if they do not understand the legal issues with Conflict of Interest (COI)

      First a Conflict of Interest is not a legal matter — unless there is a Fiduciary Duty to one of the involved parties — it’s that simple. A Fiduciary Duty is a financial obligation or an obligation of trust to another party. That’s where the problem arises in this matter.

      To wit:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiduciary
      A fiduciary duty (from Latin fiduciarius, meaning “(holding) in trust”; from fides, meaning “faith”, and fiducia, meaning “trust”) is a legal or ethical relationship of confidence or trust regarding the management of money or property between two or more parties, most commonly a fiduciary and a principal. One party, for example a corporate trust company or the trust department of a bank, holds a fiduciary relation or acts in a fiduciary capacity to another, such as one whose funds are entrusted to it for investment. In a fiduciary relation one person, in a position of vulnerability, justifiably reposes confidence, good faith, reliance and trust in another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter. In such a relation good conscience requires one to act at all times for the sole benefit and interests of another, with loyalty to those interests.

      A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence.
      —Bristol & West Building Society v Mothew [1998] Ch 1 at 18 per Lord Millett

      A fiduciary duty[1] is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary (abbreviation fid) is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the “principal”): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents.

      Before commenting on the above post a little research might be in order.

    • This is Animal Farm in real time. The concerns of many are downtrodden on for the greed of a few. Lives and wildlife are being damged in the now due to IWT’s. The main stream media focuses on issues such as whether or not Toronto councillors get a TTC pass tax free or not….or if an extra “political” dinner with booze gets written off. The FIT is a massive waste of taxbase on a grand scale with little return for the common good but no main stream media attention. Our rights and freedoms have been dismantled via the Green Energy Act. This all due to shifty politicians. I would love to defend some more but I have to work for a living.

      As far as taking advantage of a photo op……well I cant resist

    • it seems if you have any interest in something you declare a conflict of interest and step aside ….if you take part knowing you have some involvement then it is very simply wrong.
      They all know that. And legal advice can be had in a heartbeat.to take you on the correct path.
      Electricty for profit with a monoply based system wher ther is no price competition is simply wrong. As is the GEA…there were far better ways to get into new alternate energy initiatives and not only create jobs locally but benefit tax payers.That is locally subsidized programs for Ontarians to adopt it.
      This just lays waste to our areas , ensures energy poverty so the few can get rich.
      There are farmers in my area that declined signing contracts because they are good neighbours and know full well it’s a long term decision that affects others around them.
      Just because you had the opportunity to lease your property to a wreckers doesn’t make it right.

      • it seems if you have any interest in something you declare a conflict of interest and step aside ….if you take part knowing you have some involvement then it is very simply wrong..

        Again — a conflict of interest is fine — as long as there is no duty. People are using the terms interchangeably — they are not!

        If you have a financial or property “interest” in a project — then you have a fiduciary duty to the the person who contracted your property (and they to you).

        A conflict of Interest could be that you “Hate Wind Turbines and your neighbor loves them and wants them” — that is not a problem. If, as say, a councilor or mayor you “buy into” the project and do not declare that interest — which is a duty — then you are now in breach of duty if the matter comes before council, or becomes a matter in front of you in an official capacity, or you use your position or office to see that the matter does not come before council etc. — then you have a problem — as you also have a conflicting duty to the developer.

        If you declare in some way or other for one side or the other and people realize that you are not going to represent their interests — as they feel you have a duty to do — then voila! COI/Fiduciary Duty issues. All out in the open — as it should be.

        This is not nit-picking.

    • This town sounds like an exciting place.
      Nobody saw anything, nobody knows anything, but, I’ll bet everybody is
      talking now.

  8. I forgot the COI Link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest

    The point is that you can take on as much COI as your stressed little heart can handle — if there is no Duty to any of the involved party.

    Duty — or more properly — Fiduciary Duty changes the picture dramatically. Anybody who writes contracts knows about that matter and COI. It’s always a lurking threat…

    If it has ever been recommended to you to obtain an “Independent Legal Advice” (ILA) it is to avoid the COI/FID that it is requested — that way you can be held responsible for your contract as the advice was not recommended by a party with a COI AND a Fiduciary Duty. (No duty — no problem)

    With that I leave it to you to analyze the above situation and judge for yourself the correctness of any actions.

    • I wonder if one looks at the swear in of a council member and their duty , if a council member votes on a matter that will benefit them financially….or will in the future , it may be conflict of interest or corruption..the problem is it’s a provincial matter in provincial courts all in partnership with provincial agencies……and they work for ?

      • Ernest Said:

        , if a council member votes on a matter that will benefit them financially….or will in the future , it may be conflict of interest or corruption… ???????

        Not really. I think it’s more clear than that. But, corruption is a value statement — I leave that judgment to you.

  9. Makes you wonder how many other mayors, MPP’s, persons in power ARE in conflict of interest not only with the IWT issue, but other sensitive topics. Scarey if you stop to think about it. How much pressure/coercion is there on a mayor or MPP to “make the right decision”? Many political tyopes also run a business, and depending on what “their other job is”, might very well dictate their decision on a situation….. Afterall the(ir) customer is always right, right?

    • COI does not matter. DUTY is the issue. No duty? — then COI is NOT an issue — except for loss of sleep maybe….

      Think of “Breach of Trust” — in the vernacular.

    • It is very scarey, anytime the government steps forward and says oh ya we can solve this problem….be very afraid. the wind company wanting to fix the grid can be compared to the push to fix Iraq. Before the invasion oil was at $35.00 and the Terrorists were not there and now the debt and collateral damage cant be measured. Before IWT’s electricity was cheap, now the wind interests want to create a story of electrical sustainability but electrical shortages are not there but the debt of FIT and collateral damage cant be measured.

      • Rob..this may interest you and may make you cry…
        http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National_Office_Pubs/btn4_1.pdf

        Electricity direction is moving towards what we now see with gasoline because of the way the system has been deregulated.
        Maybe the answer is smaller utilities that say a municipality owns for it’s shareholders the tax payer.
        The McGuinty direction will take us down an awful road of energy poverty.
        And maybe that’s where this guy came from….
        We are and were robbed.
        And it continues with carbon pricing……
        OPEC is very pleased with Oil at $50 a barrel…on the other hand the OIL SANDS must see oil at $75 a barrel to begin to make it viable.
        Now to be fair we are paying BP oil spill..what they should have done is freeze trading on oil , and fined BP and it;s investors to ensure they paid for it to finally learn a lesson.
        Getting back to the Liberals…we must stop them.

  10. The actions of this mayor should be considered a breach of trust with the residents of Bluewater. He should do the honourable thing and step down till a court decides but then again he would not be in this position if he had been representing the interest of the residents rather than his own self interest.

  11. The deputy mayor is no better he also has options for wind turbines and thinks he is avoiding the issue by playing naive or stupid

  12. The latest incident Dowson also had his election expenses appealed on the grounds he under reported his expenses or did not report in kind contributions as required by the provincial “Good Government Act” Friday August 5, 2011 the Compliance Audit Committee found him in violation of the act and moved to appoint an auditor to review all his finances in regard to the election and report back on possible legal action. He is finally being held accountable to the electorate of this Municipality something LONG overdue.

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