The defence lawyer for a rural municipality of Sherwood councillor charged with corruption says it was never his intention to offer a vote-trade for his personal advantage, and that he was acting in the best interest of the RM.
The trial for Tim Probe ended Thursday in Regina. Probe pleaded not guilty to charges of municipal corruption and breach of trust.
Secretly taped audio conversation
The main evidence against Probe is a secretly taped audio conversation between him and the reeve of the RM, Jeff Poissant, on Feb. 1, 2016.
On that tape, the Crown alleges that Probe offered Poissant to vote in favour of a truck stop development if Poissant voted against Probe reimbursing the rural municipality $50,000 in legal fees he had incurred in another case.
'At the end of the day, there's a conversation that took place and the judge is going to have to decide what was intended in that.' - Aaron Fox, Tim Probe's lawyer
"At the end of the day, there's a conversation that took place and the judge is going to have to decide what was intended in that," said Aaron Fox, Probe's lawyer.
"There were two legitimate issues being addressed, and [Probe's] position was what he thought was in the best interest of the RM and, therefore, no offence."
Probe and other members of council had incurred legal fees while testifying during another case. They had been reimbursed by the rural municipality for the fees.
However, after a bylaw supporting the reimbursement of legal fees had been quashed, council began considering if the members should pay back the rural municipality.
Probe testified Wednesday that he thought for the rural municipality to legally pursue getting that money back, it would have significant costs for the RM with no guarantee of repayment.
Sentence heavily debated
During closing arguments, a sentence allegedly said by Probe on the tape was heavily debated.
On the tape, he seems to say, "I'm not going to do one without the other."
The defence argues that Probe was addressing the legal fee issue and the truck stop development independent of one another to resolve two divisive issues facing council, and that his vote for the truck stop development was conditional on safety concerns he had being addressed.
Defence said that for Probe, if the two issues could be resolved, council may be more harmonious.
On the tape, Probe seems to also say that he "wants to do the right thing for the RM."
However, the Crown argues that Probe was acting in his own personal interest, and used his public office for something other than the public good.
It is alleged he was not going to vote in favour of the truck stop development — even if safety concerns were addressed — if the legal fees matter was not "put to bed."
The Crown said both men wanted to see safety issues for the truck stop development resolved, so that issue was simply an aside.
The judge is expected to issue his verdict in the case in June.