Archive for July, 2007

ZONING PROBLEMS WITH A RURAL MUNICIPALITY?

July 26, 2007

I KNOW there are 30 developers in the Saskatoon area that have had problems obtaining zoning for their development projects from the Rural Municipalities and their Administrators and I have reason to believe there may be as many as another 50 small Saskatchewan developers who have had a similar problem obtaining zoning from the Rural Municipalities.

In 1997 the Earle Argue family of Regina applied to the RM of Edenwold #158 for zoning for a 160 lot residential subdivision development located on their land east of Regina and was granted conditional approval for the project with the RM putting in writing that the RM SHALL grant zoning for the project once the conditions were met.

The Argue family spent $175,000.00 to meet the conditions and all conditions were met as approved by all Provincial Government Departments but the RM Administrator, Donna Strudwick, advised the Argues in writing that zoning had been denied for their subdivision project and that they had no right of appeal to her zoning refusal. The cost to the Argues and the RM of Edenwold ratepayers is very high. The Argues’ 160 lot subdivision are estimated at a value of $30 Million dollars. At Edenwold’s current Mill Rate the RM revenue would have been $200,000 annually with an equal amount to the school board for a total loss of $4,000,000.00 over the last ten years.

The Argues went to Court with their zoning problem with the RM of Edenwold but the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts both ignored the implications of the RM’s SHALL letter and refused the Argues request for equity. The Court ruled that all zoning issues are political and the Courts must not interfere and dismissed the Argues request.

The Argue family then asked me (E.R.Lee) to serve as their agent to obtain political resolution for their zoning dispute with Edenwold.

Remember the political history of Saskatchewan. In 1999 three Liberal members, Jim Melenchuk, Ron Osika and Jack Hillson were elected and the NDP administration asked those three Liberals to assist them in forming Government. Hillson was appointed Minister for Municipal affairs so I approached him (Hillson) with the Argue/Edenwold zoning problem.

To solve the Argue/Edenwold problem the Honourable Jack Hillson, on July 3rd, 2002, amended the Urban Municipality Act removing the “ common boundary” requirement from section 14 (1) of the Act thereby allowing a Village to annex land that did not touch their borders, in other words a Village may now annex a development project out of a Rural Municipality anywhere in Saskatchewan.

The Hon. Jack Hillson then left the Provincial Government to seek the leadership of the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan and Ron Osika was appointed the new Minister of Municipal Affairs.

On March 27th, 2003, the Hon. Ron Osika ordered that the Argues find a village to annex their subdivision out of the RM of Edenwold #158. The Village of Wood Mountain agreed to annex the Argue subdivision out of Edenwold but at a public meeting on August 12th, 2003, the RM of Edenwold Administrator, Donna Strudwick, stated that the Argue family were “ less than honest and were trying to con the Village of Wood Mountain Council”.

At the same meeting Donna Strudwick also stated, in public, that the Mayor and Council of the Village of Wood Mountain was not competent to manage their own Village affairs let alone the 160 lot Argue subdivision and Strudwick, as Administrator of the R.M. of Edenwold, overturned the Hon Ron Osikas instructions and refused to allow Wood Mountain Village to annex the Argue subdivision development out of the R.M. of Edenwold.

Again I remind you of the political history. The October 2003 election saw the fall of Ron Osika, (who is now Mayor of Fort Qu’Appelle,) the election and appointment of the Hon Len Taylor as the new Minister for Municipal affairs (now Government Relations and Trade).

At a meeting on April 29th 2004 the Hon Len Taylor ignored the Amendment to section 14(1) of the Urban Municipalities act by Jack Hillson and the order by Ron Osika that the Argues find a Village to annex their development out of the RM of Edenwold and the Minister ruled that the Village of Wood Mountain should not be allowed to exist and that the Village would not be allowed to annex the Argues 160 lot subdivision out of the R.M. of Edenwold.

The Hon Len Taylor then ruled that my only option, as the Argues agent, was to “carry more flowers, chocolates and perfume” to Strudwick so as to be “ more successful with the zoning issue”.

The Hon Len Taylor’s instruction to me to carry Strudwick “ more flowers, choclates and perfume” to obtain zoning for the Argues is a sick joke because I would not carry the woman a wilted dandelion to accomplish any goal whatsoever but the fact is that even if I did have the kind of soul that could force himself to carry flowers to Donna Strudwick to obtain development zoning, I could not because Section 123 [1] MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION of Canada’s Criminal code is plain english, it states:

123. (1) Every one who
a) gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to a municipal official, or
b) being a municipal official, demands, accepts, or offers or agrees to accept from any person, a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for the official……. is liable to incarceration for up to five years

I will not allow myself to be incarcerated for five years to obtain zoning for the Argues subdivision so I refused to solve the zoning problem by following the Hon Len Taylor’s instructions to me to carry flowers to the RM of Edenwold Administrator Donna Strudwick.

As a consequence of my refusal to “ carry flowers, chocolates and perfume” to Strudwick the Village of Wood Mountain asked the Saskatchewan Municipal Board to hear the Village of Wood Mountain application to annex the Argues 160 lot residential subdivision out of the R.M. of Edenwold as ordered by the Hon Ron Osika.

The Saskatchewan Municipal Board heard the application in Moose Jaw on October 14th, 2004. The SMB ruling came out on December 22nd 2004. Their five page ruling covers the facts perfectly regarding the history of the Argue subdivision application to Strudwick.

His Worship Mayor Michael Klein made the Village submission to the SMB. His Worship made many points, among them the point that many large development projects such as inland grain terminal or ethanol plants are best suited to be governed by the RMs but that smaller projects and residential subdivision projects are best suited to be governed by an Urban Municipality.

The SMB complimented the Mayor on his presentation but ruled that the Village of Wood mountain would not be allowed to annex the Argue subdivision out of the RM of Edenwold

As a consequence of the SMB ruling I complained to the Premier about the Hon Len Taylors order to me that the only option that I had, as the Argues agent, to obtain zoning for the Argues was to “carry more flowers, chocolates and perfume” to Strudwick and I pointed out to the Premier that it would be a contravention of Section 123 (1) MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION to provide a benefit of any kind to Strudwick to obtain zoning for the Argues subdivision.

The Premier, on April 4th, 2005, refused, in writing, to address the Argues zoning issue or his Ministers instructions to me to carry Strudwick “more flowers, Chocolates and perfume” and two weeks after the Premiers response to my complaint, on April 19th, 2005, the RM of Edenwold Administrator, Donna Strudwick, sued me for $50,000.00 (fifty thousand dollars) for libel plus all costs.

Court of Queens Bench Judge, the Honourable Lady Justice Janet E. McMurtry, ruled that Strudwick reports to the Premier and the Minister responsible and that I had libeled her by complaining to the Premier about her because my complaint would lower her in the eyes of the Premier. The Queens Bench judge stated exactly that:

“[27] Strudwick is a public servant. She reports indirectly to Ministers in the government and the Premier in her position as a rural administrator. Her ability to perform effectively in her position is affected by the persons in those positions and their good or poor opinion of her. Being labeled a liar and corrupt could serve to” lower [Strudwick] in the estimation of those
persons.”

but Lady Justice McMurtry also lowered Strudwicks libel claim to $10,000.00 ( ten thousand dollars) from the $50,000.00 demanded by Strudwick and awarded no costs to Strudwick.

I appealed the Queens Bench ruling to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal who ruled that the Argues ( and presumably all Developers), “in order to develop their projects” “must build a relationship” with the Rural Administrators, “ by carrying them flowers, chocolates and perfume”, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Judges ruled exactly as follows:

“ [16] The Argues attended a meeting with Minister Taylor on April 29th, 2004 at the meeting, they asked him for a recommendation as to how they should deal with their zoning problem. He apparently said that they needed to “ carry more flowers, chocolates and perfume” to the R.M. of Edenwold. Mr. Lee places considerable emphasis on this statement. He and the Argues interpret it as an instruction or “ Crown ruling” to pay bribes to the R.M. and its administrator, Ms Strudwick. Mr. Lee sees this as contravening s. 123 of the Criminal Code which, in plainest terms, prohibits the payment of bribes to municipal officials.

[17] Two comments are in order here. First the Argues’ interpretation of the Minister’s comments is unwarranted. It is readily apparent that the Minister effectively was suggesting that they needed to build a relationship with the R.M. and work with it in order to advance their project. Their is no reasonable basis for thinking he was directing them to pay bribes and
commit a Criminal offence and there is certainly no basis for characterizing his comment as being some sort of official or authoritative governmental decision……….”

and the Court of Appeal upheld the Queens Bench libel award to Strudwick of ten thousand dollars and did award her ( Strudwick) $873.70 (eight hundred and seventy three dollars and seventy three cents), in Appeal costs.

I appealed the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada which Court dismissed my appeal but was very blunt in its summary statement that I had used the idea of the Village of Wood Mountain annexing the Argue subdivision out of the RM of Edenwold simply to try to pull a end run on the RM of Edenwold to avoid having to carry “ flowers, chocolates and perfume” to Strudwick as ordered by the Minister..

The Supreme Court was also blunt in its statement that the Minister had told me that the only option I had, as the Argues agent, to solve the Argues zoning problem with Strudwick was to “carry her flowers, chocolates and perfume”.

Note the Supreme Court summary statement below:

“In 1997, E.C. Argue Holdings Ltd. along with Earle argue and Sharie Argue, applied to the rural municipality of Edenwold to re-zone land from agriculture to mobile home park use. Initially, the council for The Rural Municipality of Edenwold approved the request conditionally, but subsequently denied the application. the application for judicial review was unsuccessful. An application to annex the land on which the proposed mobile home park was to be situated was then presented by the Village of Wood Mountain but was denied on the grounds that the annexation was solely an attempt to circumvent the Rural Municipality of Edenwold’s
councils refusal to rezone the land. Mr. Lee acted as Argue’s representative, and three letters written by him were the basis for the Ms. Strudwick’s defamation claim. the first letter, written to the Minister of Government relations and Trade and copied to other officials, contained
the terms ‘ falsehoods”, false statement”, “ untruths”, “ evasions” and “ half and quarter truths” to describe statements made by Ms. Strudwick relating to the zoning issue, accusing her of involvement in criminal conduct. A second letter was written shortly thereafter and sent to the
Premier of Saskatchewan and copied to the Ministers, stating that Ms. Strudwick was suppressing the truth and acting in violation of s. 123 of the Criminal code. Mr. Lee then met with the President of the Rural Municipal Administrators Association to file a complaint against Ms Strudwick alleging that she “ told misrepresentation and lies to the Saskatchewan
Municipal Board”. At this meeting Mr. Lee was told by the Minister to “ carry more flowers, chocolates and perfume” in order to be more successful with respect to the zoning issue. A formal written request was made by Ms. Strudwick to the effect that Mr. Lee retract his statement but he refused and a third letter was then sent by Lee and was addressed to the Premier and copied to the NDP Caucus Chair, the Law Society of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Municipal Board, The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and the Rural Municipal Administrators Association of Saskatchewan, alleging “ egregious suppressions of the truth”.

Those interested may obtain the above from the Supreme Court of Canada website and by clicking on to case number 31940.

All readers will see that the Supreme Court of Canada took special notice of the fact that the idea of Wood Mountain Village annexing the Argue development out of the R.M. of Edenwold was solely an attempt to circumvent the R.M. of Edenwold Council’s refusal to provide zoning.

That was exactly the plan. The two Liberal Ministers, Hillson and Osika, who had been co-opted by the NDP to help form the 1999 Provincial government, designed the Village annexation plan to allow the Argues and other small developers to go ahead with their development plans and create economic development without having to “ carry flowers, chocolates and perfume” to the Rural Administrators.

But after the 2003 election the new Minister Responsible, the Hon Len Taylor, and the Premier, put a end to the Hillson/Osika plan to circumvent the R.M.s blocking zoning until the senior officials, such as Strudwick, are “carried their flowers, chocolates and perfume” to grant zoning for the Developers projects and the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench courts found me guilty of libel for my complaining to Premier Calvert about his Ministers instructions to carry Strudwick “flowers, chocolates and perfume” to obtain zoning.

The Argues and all small developers are placed in a impossible situation. I repeat, the Minister Responsible and all three levels of Court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, have ruled that the only option the Developers have to obtain zoning for their subdivision is to “carry flowers, chocolates and perfume” to the Rural Administrators and Councils but it is a contravention of Section 123(1) MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION of the Criminal Code to carry “a benefit of any kind” to a Municipal official.

All readers are asked to note that the Queens Bench Trial Judge, the Honourable Lady Justice Janet McMurtry, a NDP activist, was originally appointed as a Provincial Court Judge and was married to Chris Axworthy, who served as the NDP Attorney General and Minister of Justice under Premier Roy Romanow. When Romanow resigned Axworthy ran against Calvert to become Premier but lost and as a consequence Axworthy resigned his position as the Province’s Attorney General and ran twice for the Federal Liberals.

The second time Axworthy ran for the Federal Liberals, his wife, the Honourable Lady
Justice Janet McMurtry, was appointed to the Federal Queens Bench Court and
Strudwicks libel action against me ( Lee) was the first case that she (McMurtry) heard as
a Queens Bench Judge.

The above stuff can be Googled, note http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_ Axworthy and http://www.justice.gc.ca!eng/news-nouv/ja-nj/2005/doc3 l730.html with the exception of the marriage certificate, which I do not have access to, because such information is considered so secret that the Provincial Vital Statistics regulations section 30(1) rules that only a lawyer or a police officer can gain access, BUT I am so certain that Axworthy and McMurtry were husband and wife that if it comes to it I will live or die on the question.

The reason it is important to the question of Strudwick’s libel action against me ( Lee) and the blocking of zoning of the Argues 30 million dollar residential subdivision development project until she ( Strudwick) is carried her” flowers, chocolates and perfume” ( bribes) is that Strudwick reports to the Premier and Minister Responsible and there can be no doubt whatsoever but that nepotism becomes a factor in Strudwick’s success in blocking zoning for the Argue family’s 30 million dollar residential subdivision development.

Blacks Law Dictionary, 5th edition, describes nepotism as “Bestowal of patronage by public officers in appointing others to positions by reason of blood or martial relationship to appointing authority”.

Nepotism is taken so seriously by the North American Courts that no less than the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the most bloodthirsty Court in North America, canceled a execution when the Defence lawyers were able to prove that the Trial judge ( a woman) and the D.A. were conducting an affair, this may be Googled using, “Execution halted amid rumors of affair between judge, D.A.” ( alternate link because CNN has moved their page).

All readers are asked to note that another factor regarding Strudwick’s ability to block zoning for the Argues 30 million dollar residential subdivision development project until she is carried her” flowers, chocolates and perfume” ( bribes) is a Judicial Council of Canada report entitled MASTERS IN THEIR OWN HOUSE, which report was prepared by two eminent Canadian Jurists, namely;

DIRECTOR

The HONOURABLE Jules Desehenes,
Doctor of Laws,
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Knight of the Order of Malta
Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec

RESEARCH COORDINATOR:

Carl Baar,
M.A., Ph.D. Political Science ( Chicago)
Fellow for the Institute for Court Management (Denver)
Associate Professor of Politics and Director of
Programme in Judicial Administration, Brock University,
Ontario.

A bit over twenty years ago I had a copyright issue with the Judicial Council of Canada regarding their report, but on Saturday October 17th 1987, the then Political reporter for the Leader Post, Dale Eisler, was kind enough to turn a rock over for me by publishing a political column regarding the report which placed it (the report) in the public realm and allowed me to make use of it.

The Judicial council report states in no uncertain terms that senior Provincial Government officials, such as Strudwick who reports to the Premier and Minister responsible, have administrative control over the working lives of the Queens and Appeal Bench Judges and use that control to ensure Judgements favourable to the Senior Provincial Government officials.

The report, at 125 pages is plain English but is very focused and dense, concentrating in the main on a comparison of Canada with the US and the rest of the British Commonwealth Countries, and after interviewing about 500 Judges from one end of Canada to the other, from BC to Newfoundland, Judge Deschenes and Dr. Baar reached the conclusion that Canada has the most corrupt Administration of Justice in the Countries studied.

For your reference, the title and index pages as well as one chapter of the report, “Concerns of the Canadian Judiciary” setting out the concerns of the Judiciary regarding the administrative control by the Senior Provincial officials at __________ (the one chapter from the Judicial Council report is in the Book).

There is no doubt whatsoever but that the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts upheld the Minister Responsible, the Hon Len Taylor’s ruling that the Saskatchewan Developers are required to “build a relationship” with the Senior Government of Saskatchewan officials by carrying a gift of “flowers, chocolates and perfume” to those Senior official’s who are given the Responsibility, by the Premier and his Minister Responsible, to Administer the Rural Municipalities, including the granting of zoning for the Developers development projects.

Beyond that, there can be no doubt whatsoever but that, the ruling by the Saskatchewan Queens Bench and Appeal Courts supporting the Minister Responsible that those Saskatchewan Officials must be carried” flowers, chocolates and perfume” in exchange for their providing zoning approval for the Developers projects is in direct contravention of a section of the Criminal Code law passed by the Canadian Parliament, to wit: Section 123 (1) MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION which states that the Developers must not provide A BENEFIT OF ANY KIND, to a Municipal official to obtain a favour.

When Tredeau moved the Canadian Constitution from London to Ottawa, the then Premier of Manitoba, Stirling Lyon, stood alone among the Premiers in demanding the inclusion of the so called “notwithstanding’ clause which in effect made sure that at the end of the day, the Canadian Parliament stood ahead of the Judiciary.

As a consequence I (Lee) suggest that the Saskatchewan voters ask that Premier Brad Wall have his Attorney General, the Hon Don Morgan, launch a legal challenge under the Constitution to the Constitutional right of the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts to overrule a Federal law preventing the bribery of  Municipal officials.

The Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts, in effect took this right on to themselves, by their ruling that the NDP Minister Responsible, the Hon Len Taylor, has the legal right to instruct that the only option that a Developer has to obtain zoning for his Development projects is to “carry flowers, chocolates and perfume” ( bribes) to his (the Ministers) Senior officials who have been given the power by the then NDP Administration to control development zoning.

This is not a minor matter of little or no economic consequence. The fact is that the Argue family have lost many, many of millions dollars in profit and the R.M. of Edenwold and the small Urban ratepayers have all lost a estimated four million dollars in school and property tax revenue over the decade that R.M. Administrator Donna Strudwick has been blocking the Argue subdivision from being granted zoning approval despite the fact that the Saskatchewan Municipal Board ruled that the Argues residential subdivision development had received all Provincial Departmental approval.

The Saskatchewan voters would be well served if a Public Inquiry similar to the Adscam inquiry and/or the Mulroney/Schriber inquiry was conducted into the cost to the Saskatchewan voters and taxpayers of the fact that the Rural Municipal Officials have the right to demand “ flowers, chocolates and perfume” from the Developers in exchange for granting those Developers zoning approval for their Development projects.

It is perhaps of little consequence to anyone other than a few friends that I (Lee) was destroyed when the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts upheld Administrator Strudwick’s libel action against me for my complaining to Premier Calvert that his Minister Responsible, the Hon Len Taylor, had ruled that my only option as the Argues representative, to obtain development zoning for the Argues subdivision Development Project, was to carry” flowers, chocolates and perfume” to Strudwick.

But it should be true that if it can be shown to a Public Inquiry that my ( Lee)’s personal destruction was undertaken for the purpose of sending a message to other Developers as to what happens to a Developer (or his representative), when he refuses to “carry flowers, chocolates and perfume” (bribes) to R.M. Administrator Strudwick in exchange for her (Strudwick) granting zoning approval for the Argues Development project then that fact should also be of concern to the Saskatchewan voter and taxpayer.

Such a public inquiry, if conducted, should include inquiry into the reasons as to why RCMP Staff Sergeant Brent Lewis, following a phone call from Strudwick’s lawyer, Glen Dowling, destroyed evidence of Strudwick’s possible criminal acts of fraud, evidence that had been supplied to RCMP Staff Sergeant Brent Lewis by Outlook Saskatchewan Community Leader Lloyd Smith.

An inquiry could also determine the reason why the Province of Saskatchewan is the last province in Canada to allow the Balkanization of its Rural areas by allowing the 300 Rural Municipalities to exist with zoning of the Developers’ economic development projects remaining under the control of each separate Rural Administrator.

Each of the 300 Rural Municipalities have a annual administration cost of about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00) for the Administrator and their assistant’s salaries, per diems for the Reeves and Council members, travel costs, and office costs such as, heat, light, computers and phones and so on,for a total annual cost of 75 million dollars province wide when each administrative area could easily be placed under the control of the small Urbans, the small Towns and Villages.

Over fifty years ago Meyer Brownstone recognized the economic problem for the Province and designed a solution only to have been ignored to this day and perhaps a public inquiry could answer why Brownstone’s plan has been ignored for over half a century.

If the Public inquiry as to the costs to the Saskatchewan taxpayer was conducted in conjunction with and in addition to a constitutional challenge regarding whether or not the Saskatchewan Queens and Appeal Bench Courts have the legal right under the Constitution to override a law enacted by the Federal Parliament preventing the bribery of Rural Municipal Officials, then the Saskatchewan voters and taxpayers might start to get some answers regarding the question as to why there is not enough economic development and tax revenue in Rural Saskatchewan to keep their rural schools open without the assistance of tax revenue from the taxpayers in the large Urbans who need all their tax revenue to keep their own schools open.

I realize that it is a lot to ask the public for a inquiry shortly after the taxpayer has just been subjected to the ten million dollar Milgaard whitewash and cover up that accomplished nothing. With Milgaard the Justice officials just stalled around until a couple of their Senior officials died of old age and then blamed them for any problems. Blaming the dead is a tried and effective cover up tactic.

The Milgaard inquiry was finally conducted only after great public and media pressure, but when put to the wall the judicial authorities made certain that it was undertaken for the sole purpose of covering up some very obvious original judicial blunders whereas the Argue/Strudwick zoning situation is very different, it is a question of a Judicial activist role in ruling that the order of the Hon Len Taylor, a NDP Minister of the Crown, that “flowers, chocolates and perfume” (bribes) must be carried to a Senior Public official for that official to grant zoning for a 30 million dollar residential subdivision development must stand as the last word in the matter.

Whether the Minister Responsible and Judicial members share in the “flowers, chocolates and perfume”( bribes) that are taken to the Senior Officials who grant zoning for the subdivision developments in exchange for the “flowers, chocolates and perfume” is immaterial, it is still massive, total corruption that costs the Saskatchewan taxpayer a massive amount of tax revenue due to the lack of economic development.

The costs of a Argue/Strudwick inquiry should be nothing like the Milgaard inquiry costs. To start with Outlook community leader Lloyd Smith and I have already done all the heavy lifting on the problem, we ( Smith and I) have done all the investigative work and there is a rock solid paper trail filed in the Court, supported by the dozen or so uncontradicted affidavits, the Factums and Appeal Books, the Supreme Court of Canada Leave Book, ending with the Supreme Court of Canada Summary Statement. for Case 31940, this stuff could simply all be turned over to whoever conducted the inquiry.

Should the inquiry result in a ruling in the Argues favour and results in zoning permission being granted to the Argues for their 30 million dollar residential subdivision development, there would eventually be a pay out to the taxpayer because the tax revenue generated for the area residents is about $400,000.00 each year for the school and property tax, so it would not take more than a few years to cover off the inquiry costs.