By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent
An ongoing issue again reared its ugly head at the County of Stettler regular meeting Sept. 13: a pecuniary interest issue and subsequent censure letter given to councilor Ernie Gendre.
In a nutshell, councilor Ernie Gendre had been involved in a pecuniary interest (financial) issue and been given a letter of censure by council. The letter, in essence, stated they weren’t happy with this situation. Ernie, at the latest council meeting, told his peers he wasn’t happy either and didn’t feel he was treated fairly.
Listed as “Request for reconsideration” on the agenda, Ernie Gendre stated allegations had been made regarding a council vote for a contract that a family member could have potentially landed.
Ernie said he was requesting that the department of Municipal Affairs in Edmonton conduct an investigation into the issue and a mediator be appointed to aid in communication between councilor Ernie Gendre and his fellow county councilors.
Councilor James Nibourg responded that as far as he knew Ernie had already contacted Municipal Affairs and Nibourg was curious about the outcome and actually requested to see a statement in writing from Municipal Affairs.
Ernie Gendre responded that Municipal Affairs’ opinion was that there was no case against him.
Reeve Wayne Nixon said he also contacted Municipal Affairs directly and was told on the record that Municipal Affairs doesn’t get involved in pecuniary interest issues. Nixon said he was told pecuniary interest issues , if they must be taken further, are resolved in court.
Councilor Nibourg said to Ernie Gendre that he wanted to know the name of the person Ernie spoke to at Municipal Affairs.
Ernie said he couldn’t remember exactly but that he could get the information quickly. “I can bring this back this afternoon,” said Ernie.
It was then discussed whether or not this issue should be tabled. Councilor Les Stulburg said every time the county seeks legal advice, it costs the taxpayers money.
Nibourg concurred, stating the issue has cost taxpayers up to $30,000, plus council and staff time that was wasted. “We’re done with wasting taxpayers’ money,” said Nibourg.
However, at this point in the meeting, Ernie was prompted or aided by a member of the audience and he remembered whom he spoke to at Municipal Affairs. Ernie stated the provincial government employee’s name was Dezre Kouri, and he spelled the name out in the open meeting.
Reeve Nixon said he felt the issue should never have been brought up again at council and should be left in the public’s hands. “You’re a month away from election when the people could make the decision, and hopefully will,” said Nixon.
Nixon also said bringing this issue up again doesn’t just waste the county’s money, but staff time too when there are more important things to work on.
A motion was made supporting Ernie Gendre’s request, which was defeated 5-3.
Reeve Nixon added, “Mr. Gendre, let’s put this to rest. Let’s move forward, please.”