LeSueur cleared in railway tunnel audit

The Brockville City Council chambers on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Coun. Dave LeSueur has been cleared by an auditing firm of conflict of interest and ethics allegations in connection to the Brockville Railway Tunnel project and its $2.1 million deficit. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

BROCKVILLE – A city councillor has been cleared by an auditing firm of allegations of conflict of interest in the Brockville Railway Tunnel project.

Coun. Dave LeSueur was chairman of the Brockville Railway Tunnel Committee until April, when he abruptly resigned from the committee entirely, citing personal matters and not wanting to be a political distraction.

LeSueur has been the figurehead and champion of the project, which has been marred with a $2.1 million deficit.

“We found no breach of the provision of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and we found no evidence of other ethical concerns,” KPMG auditor Pascale Jolicoeur told council Tuesday night.

The auditors explained that LeSueur was helpful during their investigation as he provided a copy of his personal emails – something he was not legally obligated to do. However, they were not able to assess if it was a complete copy, though the contents did provide some “relevant information” in their investigation.

Jolicoeur said the breach of ethics allegations were “raised at the beginning and throughout this review.” Nothing was found.

Coun. Leigh Bursey asked whether there should be a change going forward that a city councillor not be a chairperson of a committee in control of a budget “in an effort to avoid potential perceptions of power when it comes to conflict cases.”

But the auditors said if the committee is “properly structured” and the roles are “clearly defined” and a “good code of conduct” is in place that a councillor could still lead a committee.

As part of its recommendations, KPMG also said the city should review its conflict of interest disclosure policies and communicate them regularly to council, staff and committees.

LeSueur was not at last night’s meeting due to family commitments.