Judge Favors Winnipeg’s Mayor in Conflict-of-Interest Case

A Manitoba judge announced a ruled in favour of Winnipeg’s Mayor, Sam Katz, on Friday afternoon in relation to his conflict-of-interest case brought forward by a local restaurateur. Justice Brenda Keyser declared that the conflict-of-interest legislation did not encompass the issue raised about the 2010 Christmas party thrown by Katz for city councillors at Hu’s Asian Bistro. Katz owned the restaurant at the time, but he still paid $3,000 tab with taxpayers’ money. The conflict-of-interest complaint was filed last year by a city restaurateur, Joe Chan.

Keyser ruled on Friday that Chan shall also pay $10,000 in lieu of the legal costs spent by Katz. However, in the ruling Keyser did mentioned that even though Katz’s conduct was a “bad political and ethical behaviour,” she believes that setting off costly election was not in the public’s best interest. Court documents filed earlier alleged that Katz was unaware of how the restaurant bill was paid after he submitted the invoice to his office. Chan’s lawyer, David Matas, quarreled at the hearing that “the notion that [Katz] does not know what’s going on in his own office is not a plausible position.”

Coun. Paula Havixbeck stated that even though she respects the decision, it might still cause problems for Winnipeg’s mayor as voters will still judge him over it in the next election. He stated that “you know, the mayor’s business is his business — it is just that. And I think we at city hall have to be more transparent and more trustworthy in general in how we are doing things.”

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