Injunction seeks to oust Brampton councillor on eve of historic transit vote

By October 24, 2015Media
The City of Brampton held its Council Inauguration Monday evening (Dec 1) swearing in the new mayor Linda Jeffrey along with members of council elected for the 2014-2018 term.

Court documents filed allege Martin Medeiros breached election rules

By Peter Criscione

A Brampton resident is seeking an injunction to halt Regional Councillor Martin Medeiros from participating in a historic vote on Light Rail Transit (LRT) next week alleging that he lied on his election nomination papers last year.
“Opponents of the LRT are trying to silence and deny my community participation in one of the most important debates in this city,” said Medeiros, who spent Friday in a Brampton courtroom as lawyers debated the merits of a motion filed by Peter Bailey, a vocal critic of a $1.6 billion proposal to bring an LRT downtown.
Medeiros is a key ally of Mayor Linda Jeffrey and supporter of the LRT proposal.

“The issue is not about me. It is an attempt by disgruntled opponents of the LRT to deny the citizens of Wards 3 and 4 from having a say in one of the most important transit and infrastructure issues facing the city.”
Justice Peter Daley is expected to hand down a decision as early as Monday, right on the eve of a special meeting on the LRT.

The injunction, filed Thursday, asks to stop Medeiros from taking part in that meeting on the basis that he misled voters last year by claiming to be a Brampton resident at the time of filing his nomination — when in fact he resided in Mississauga — which contravenes election laws.

His lawyer David Shiller, argued before the court that Medeiros was not qualified to be nominated or elected as a municipal councillor and therefore should not be allowed to vote on an issue that could have huge implications for the city.

Under the Municipal Act, a candidate must live or own property in the municipality they intend to contest a political seat.

Bailey filed the injunction in the interest of the public good and claimed that allowing Medeiros to vote Tuesday would be detrimental to residents.

“The applicant and citizens of the City of Brampton will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not granted,” Bailey’s affidavit reads.

The injunction seeks to “disqualify” Medeiros from Tuesday’s (Oct. 27) meeting on and set in motion proceedings to remove him from office.

Bailey, a vocal opponent of the proposed surface route for the LRT downtown, was also present in court Friday as was city lawyer Owen Rees. Mark Geiger, of Blaney McMurtry, represented Medeiros.

Counter argument

Geiger called the injunction frivolous and argued the councillor had done enough to qualify to be counted as a candidate on last year’s election ballot.
Geiger fought on the definition of residency. He suggested the matter be tossed out on the basis that the election was a year ago and any window to contest the vote has shut.

Meanwhile, Rees argued from the city’s perspective that excluding Medeiros from voting on the LRT would be a detriment to the residents of Wards 3 and 4 because they would be unrepresented.

“I was born, grew up and lived most of my life in Brampton. I have followed the election rules and am confident that this politically motivated attack will be rejected by the court,” said Medeiros.

“The attempt by foes of the LRT to use the courts as a way of overriding the will of the electorate is an abuse of the legal process. I believe that the court will see through this transparent attempt.”

“Constituents in my community strongly favour the LRT, as do most Bramptonians, according to public opinion polls.
The effort mounted by opponents of the LRT is a desperate effort of denying much needed transit investment to my community and the city.”
Medeiros acknowledged that he lived in Mississauga with his wife and family in 2014, but had initiated a move to Brampton when he decided to run for a seat on council.
He registered as a candidate on Aug. 20, 2014 and filed his parent’s address as his primary residence.

Medeiros responded in an affidavit Friday that he took up residence with his parents starting May 2014 until May 2015.

Election rules have stipulations on residency.

Shiller argued that based on those rules Medeiros has not provided enough evidence to support the notion that it was his intension to move to Brampton permanently.

He said following Friday’s hearing that even if Medeiros is allowed to participate in Tuesday’s LRT vote, the process to get him ousted out of office would continue.

Medeiros’ political woes come as pressure mounts from all sides of a mass transit debate that has ignited tension and pitted neighbours against one another.

Before lawyers engaged in their legal tussle, Daley expressed his annoyance at the fact that the injunction was filed so late.
He scolded counsel for “literally bringing this injunction on the eve of such an important vote.”

Daley took aim at Bailey’s argument that he brought the injunction forward in the public’s interest.

He called the moved for the injunction ‘odd.’
“There is no evidence whatsoever that this man is speaking for anyone other than himself,” said Daley adding he would review submissions over the weekend and render a decision soon.

The issue with transit

The Province of Ontario has committed $1.6 billion to a 23-kilometre light rail transit line connecting Mississauga’s lakeshore to Brampton’s downtown GO station via the city’s heritage district.

However, while many can agree that mass transit is needed in this rapidly growing and diverse municipality, where the route should go once it crosses the Mississauga border into Brampton has divided residents and businesses and paralyzed council politically.

Supporters argue the LRT would be a game changer for Brampton, especially the city centre, which has stagnated in recent decade.

Conversely, opponents would like to see the city’s historic district spared and alternative routes studied.

Provincial transit officials have given Brampton a deadline of Oct. 31 to decide on the proposed route. If council votes it down the track will run to Steeles Avenue with the remaining funds going back into the government’s infrastructure pot.

The vote headed into Tuesday’s special council meeting is said to be very close, with one, maybe two, council members deciding which side carries the day.

Former Ontario premier Bill Davis, who is also chair of the mayor’s blue ribbon panel on establishing a university in Brampton, is arguably the biggest name to weigh in on the matter.

This week, he made known his position that he opposes a surface route alignment that would drive an LRT line right by his Main Street residence.

Mayor Jeffrey on Friday responded with a letter obtained by The Guardian accusing Davis of overstepping his mandate as panel chair and raising “some serious questions about the ethics and relevance of the Panel in participating in issues outside its intended mandate.”

Tuesday’s vote could make or break political careers depending on the outcome.
Jeffrey, a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister, promised during her campaign that she would use her connections at Queen’s Park to advance the city’s interest.

A ‘no vote’ could sour relations with the province and hinder other key projects.

Her rivals however, including several on council, take issue with Jeffrey’s overbearing leadership style.

They accuse the mayor of trying to push through a transit agenda that doesn’t necessarily work best for Brampton.

Story updated Oct. 23 at 11:55 p.m.