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City of Quesnel responds to mayor's legal challenge

The city's response to the mayor's legal challenge asks that the court dismiss the case
Quesnel mayor Ron Paull issued a court challenge against the city over his censure.

The city has responded to Mayor Ron Paull's court challenge and is seeking a dismissal of the case.

Paull filed with the Vancouver Law Courts in late May to have the censure and sanctions against him lifted. Council voted unanimously to put those measures in place following revelations the mayor reportedly tried to distribute a book denying the trauma of residential schools to other politicians at a Cariboo Regional District meeting.

Paull said he shared the book in an attempt to make a point about books available to youth in schools. He has not apologized to First Nations.

In response to Paull's legal petition, which said council took Paull by surprise and didn't go through proper procedure, the city is seeking to have the case dismissed.

The city denies Paull's allegations of an ambush and improper procedure. Its response states the petition should be dismissed and legal costs paid to the city.

"At all times the city acted in a reasonable and fair manner," the response said. "After lengthy consideration of the options available to council to condemn (Paull's) actions and begin to repair the city's relationship with local First Nations (...) council adopted the April 30 Resolutions of Censure and Sanction. It was reasonable and for it to do so."

The response, citing legal precedent, said Paull should have first raised any complaints of procedural violations in a council meeting. It added that the city and the council should have been given the opportunity to respond to any complaints by Paull about the procedure.

"(Paull), who was aware of the alleged procedural defect, should not be permitted to 'stay still in the weeds and later brandish it on judicial review when it happens to be unsatisfied with the first-instance decision,'" the response said, quoting precedent from a past court case.

The response says Paull was kept informed about the draft motion to censure him. It said he was sent documents ahead of the April 30th meeting including the motion's and Paull gave city staff a written submission to respond to the report.

"City staff requested (Paull's) agreement that the matter proceed at the upcoming council meeting to be held on April 30, 2024," the report said. "On April 22, 2024 (Paull) agreed to have the matter proceed at the April 30 council meeting."

The report said Paull took an oath of office and council voted unanimously to censure him violating that oath after Paull recused himself from the April 30th council meeting.

The First Nations leaders from the area told council they would not work with Paull because of his actions. They have continued working with the rest of council and city staff following the mayor's censure.

Council will review any progress the mayor may have made and whether or not to lift the sanctions at a future meeting.

Kari Bolton, the city's director of corporate and financial services, said the city cannot comment on whether the mayor's legal fees are being paid for by the city or any other issues involving the ongoing court case.

About the Author: Austin Kelly

Born and raised in Surrey, I'm excited to have the opportunity to start my journalism career in Quesnel.
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