Judge promises quick conclusion in Elaine Moore appointment challenge

Written by Kavita Bassi, Student Lawyer
Edited by Fazal Khan

A legal challenge of the controversial appointment of Elaine Moore to Brampton’s city council commenced on Thursday (June 30, 2022). Moore, a retired Wards 1 & 5 Councillor and critic of Mayor Brown received six of eleven council votes to replace Councillor Charmaine Williams in Wards 7 & 8. The decision was made contrary to the advice of the City Solicitor and City Clerk as the seat was not vacant at the time of the appointment.

The legal challenge follows the cancellation of council’s most recently scheduled council meeting. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown along with four other council members refused to attend the council meeting scheduled for June 15, citing that Moore was improperly appointed and that any decisions made with Moore on Council would be subject to ongoing legal challenges. Wards 9 & 10 Councillor Harkirat Singh initiated the challenge by filing a judicial review of Moore’s appointment.

Singh’s lawyers maintained that the resolution approving Moore’s appointment to city council should be quashed as it does not meet the requirements set out in the Municipal Act. They maintained that sections 262 and 263 of the Act create a requirement that a seat must be declared vacant prior to determining how it should be filled.

Singh’s legal team highlighted that the legal issues surrounding the resolution were not unknown to the council. Council was informed of possible legal issues by the City Solicitor, who advised undertaking a closed meeting to address the issue further. Six councillors voted against having this meeting, the same six that voted in favour of appointing Moore.

Lawyers representing The City of Brampton argued that the requirements set out in the Municipal Act were not a rigid and formal procedure to deal with vacant seats. They argued that the relevant requirements in the Act formed a safeguard rather than a requirement to prevent prolonged vacancies of council seats.

The City’s lawyers also argued that the Municipal Act should be interpreted to give city councils complete discretion over the procedures they undertake when filling vacant seats, as broad powers are required for them to exercise their responsibilities.

Thursday’s decision was ultimately reserved with the judge promising to arrive at a quick conclusion so as to prevent any further council disruptions.

Brampton’s City Council is comprised of ten councillors and the Mayor. A group of six councillors (Medeiros, Fortini, Bowman, Whillans, Williams and Dhillon) formed a block over the past six months that have used their majority to make controversial decisions, including firing the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, firing the HR Director, firing the Director of Communications, firing the Integrity Commissioner and most recently firing the City Solicitor. With Charmaine Williams being elected to the provincial legislature, the block’s majority is in jeopardy, with former Councillor Elaine Moore now waiting in the wings to maintain the majority.

Council’s next meeting is scheduled for July 6 with a special meeting scheduled for July 4. It is unknown whether these meetings will occur as scheduled.