The city’s Election Compliance Audit Committee has rejected one of two applications for compliance audit in relation to Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc’s 2022 election campaign finances, citing the successful filing of the other application as their reasoning.
The decision is based on a committee meeting held May 25 to consider the application as filed by Leduc’s former political rival, Christopher Duncanson-Hales. Duncanson-Hales made a complaint to the committee regarding a Sept. 11, 2022, Grandparents’ Day event at Chartwell Westmount on William Retirement Residence, flagging the event as a campaign event for Leduc, which he said should have been included in his campaign finance filings.
This application is similar in scope to one by resident Anastasia Rioux, who filed her application on April 28.
Her application to have a compliance audit completed was granted. In making their decision to proceed with a third-party audit, the committee focused on the fact that Leduc said he “personally paid” for items at Grandparents’ Day, including prizes.
Asked whether these were in his financial statement, Leduc said, “I don’t believe so.”
Rioux’s successful application is the reason that Duncanson-Hales’ application was rejected. From the decision: “In light of an earlier decision of the committee, made at its April 27 meeting in respect of similar allegations against the same candidate (Leduc) by another individual, and the fact that a comprehensive audit has already been ordered against the candidate, it is the decision of the committee to reject the application…”
According to the decision, both Duncanson-Hales and Leduc were advised that because a compliance audit had already been ordered against Leduc, there was no further or additional relief that the committee could grant and that “there would be nothing to be gained in considering the application in full.”
The decision states that the applicant (Duncanson-Hales) had no objections to this. Also in the decision, the candidate (Leduc) “did not make any meaningful submission directly released to the rejection of the application.”
As he has since critics began questioning his involvement in Grandparents’ Day last year, Leduc said during the April 28 meeting that it wasn’t a campaign event, but a community event for people of all ages. In his submission to the committee, Leduc included various letters from people involved in the event who attest to it not being a campaign event.
Though Rioux’s application will continue, Duncanson-Hales’ will not, as the committee is of the opinion that “the application does not have significant value at this time and does not seek any new or other relief than what has already been ordered.”
After the April 28 meeting, committee chair Peter McMullen told Sudbury.com it’s unclear when the decisions would be made, noting the Municipal Elections Act doesn’t set a timeline.
The committee is mandated with holding a meeting within 30 days of receiving the auditor’s report, at which they’ll decide on how to proceed.
If Leduc’s finances were to be found in contravention, McMullen said the committee would decide whether to proceed with prosecution. It’s a subjective decision, he said, noting a “de minimis” contravention might yield no action taken.
Jenny Lamothe is a reporter at Sudbury.com.