North Stormont voting block endorsement letter gets legal review

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BERWICK – A letter mailed to North Stormont residents endorsing a block of candidates for the Oct. 24 municipal election has touched off legal discussions.

The letter is highly critical of five candidates running for mayor and council, questioning their honesty and behaviour. The one-pager endorses Frank Landry for mayor and Steve Densham, Alison McDonald, Adrian Bugelli and Charles Shane for council.

It’s signed by current mayor Jim Wert, former mayor Dennis Fife, past deputy mayor Bill McGimpsey, councillor Randy Douglas as well as residents Kenda TePlate of Finch, Frank Hakvoort of Avonmore and Jean Larocque of Crysler.

“Yes, we are aware of a document that was sent to residents,” North Stormont CAO Craig Calder told Cornwall Newswatch Friday.

“We’ve taken the appropriate steps as per our solicitor to rectify (the situation) to the best of our ability,” Calder said.

“As per our solicitor, it would be classified as third party (advertising) because it did go out in the mail and there was a minor monetary expense. That’s the threshold that indicates it’s third party advertising,” Calder explained.

He says they have “requested” the seven signatories register as third party advertisers. As of late Friday morning, six of the seven had done so. Bill McGimpsey was the only one not registered.

People have until today (Oct. 21) to register as third party advertisers in North Stormont.

“What the repercussions are, if one of those individuals doesn’t, is yet to be determined, and it wouldn’t be a step for the township…a court would decide if somebody decided to expand or wanted to continue the case,” Calder said.

Calder couldn’t speak to the contents of the letter and whether there were any issues under third party advertising law.

In a social media post, mayoral candidate Roxane Villeneuve called the candidate block endorsement letter “illegal” and “many of the statements are also libelist.”