Mayor's conflict hearing to be decided on Friday
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz will learn at week's end whether he will keep his job.
A judge hearing the conflict of interest case on Tuesday announced she would make a decision Friday at 3 p.m.
Katz's lawyer Robert Tapper started off the hearing by trying to get the case thrown out, claiming he and the mayor were left out of a previous hearing. He has also taken exception to comments made by human rights lawyer David Matas, who is representing complainant Joe Chan.
In addition, Tapper said the case should be thrown out because Chan violated court rules by going public about an out-of-court settlement.
Matas has said conflict of interest leads to corruption.
"This case is not about democracy, it's not about corruption. It's about a Christmas party," Tapper said, downplaying the matter.
Katz was not in attendance at the hearing, which looked into whether he broke conflict of interest rules. Chan was in attendance.
The issue is centered around a 2010 Christmas party Katz hosted for city councillors at Hu's Asian Bistro. Katz owned the restaurant at the time and paid the $3,000 tab with taxpayers' money.
Chan, who owns Cathay House restaurant on Regent Avenue, filed a lawsuit against the mayor last year.
He wants Katz to return the money, saying the mayor should not be profiting from public money — especially when he's a business competitor to some of those taxpayers.
"I pay tax. For me, the tax is to maintain the city. Not to maintain his own pocket," said Chan.
According to court documents, at least one of those councillors, Coun. Harvey Smith, thought Katz was paying for the party out of his own pocket. Instead, it was billed to the City of Winnipeg.
"If one minute he can do this, then the next minute anything can happen," said Chan.
Court documents state Katz was unaware of how the restaurant bill was paid that night after he submitted the invoice to office.
"The notion that he does not know what's going on in his own office is not a plausible position," said Matas.
If Katz is found to have knowingly breached the Municipal Court Conflict of Interest Act, he could be removed from office.
The judge may also find that Katz unknowingly broke the rules. In that case, Katz would remain Mayor of Winnipeg.
Chan said if he loses the fight, he will appeal.
"You have a family, I have a family. We want to settle in here [and] we want a city run in an honest way," he said.
A gathering of about 50 Winnipeggers called for Katz to step down Tuesday evening.
The group carried signs detailing a number of controversies, including a controversial fire hall land deal and calling for his resignation.
A number of signs read "Sham I am," "Time is Up," and "Call it Quits."
Many of them chanted they were tired of the "questionable activities" at city hall.