St. Albert mayor found guilty of breaking pecuniary interest laws

The outgoing mayor of St. Albert has been found guilty of breaking municipal laws which prevent politicians from voting on matters where they personally stand to gain or suffer financially.

Nolan Crouse failed to recuse himself but acted in 'good faith' the judge ruled

A judge ruled that Nolan Crouse, the outgoing mayor of St. Albert, twice violated the Municipal Government Act. (CBC)

The outgoing mayor of St. Albert has been found guilty of breaking municipal laws which prevent politicians from voting on matters where they personally stand to gain or suffer financially.

According to a Court of Queen's Bench ruling released on Thursday, Nolan Crouse was found guilty of violating the Municipal Government Act.

In two instances he was found to have voted on council matters in which he had a pecuniary interest.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice B.R. Burrows cleared Crouse of a third violation.

'Unreasonably harsh, unjust'

The lawsuit was filed by Steve Stone who is running for a seat on St. Albert city council.

At a news conference Friday morning, Stone said he wants to see Crouse "do the honourable thing" and resign as mayor, even though there are only two and a half months left in his term.

"I believe what he did was unethical," he said. "I get a little riled up when I see our civil servants not acting as servants. They're acting as lords and bosses and kings and queens."

However, the judge determined that calls for Crouse's resignation were "unreasonably harsh, unjust and entirely inappropriate."

In each case, he ruled that Crouse had "acted in good faith."

Crouse failed to recuse himself from a debate around an expense claims audit during a meeting in May 2015.

It was a procedural motion, and Crouse's failure to realize his pecuniary interest in the matter was "understandable," Burrows determined.

Crouse was also in violation when he took part in a funding limit motion in late 2014.

In that instance, the motion related to defamation funding. Burrows determined that Crouse was careful to research the regulations on recusals, but misunderstood the technicalities of the law.

The mayor was cleared in a third violation, which related to a vote on the potential environmental contamination of a property at Salisbury Ave. Crouse is principal of a company which owns property in the neighbourhood. 

In 2016, St. Albert city council asked the province to conduct an inspection into the governance of the city.

'Case closed' 

Crouse, who has indicated that he will not seek re-election, said Stone is "trophy hunting."

"He's using the court system to advance his candidacy for council," he said.

Crouse also reacted to the 16-page ruling in a post to his public Facebook page.

"You may or may not be aware that a resident brought forward an application to the courts and a judge has heard arguments by the applicant to have me removed from office for pecuniary interest on three matters and the judge ruled today in my favour," wrote Crouse.

"I am thrilled that this matter is behind me. CASE Closed."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized violations of the Municipal Government Act as charges.
    Apr 17, 2018 3:08 PM MT
  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Steve Stone as a councillor on St. Albert city council. In fact, he is a candidate in this fall's municipal election.
    Aug 11, 2017 11:54 AM MT