A Port Coquitlam councillor censured by the city for allegedly leaking confidential information linked to a major development has lost a bid to have her sanctions temporarily postponed until a hearing in September.
The decision, handed down Wednesday morning in Vancouver Supreme Court, means Coun. Laura Dupont will remain stripped of her committee appointments for at least the summer, and effectively scuttles her scheduled tenure as acting mayor.
“Today represents a small setback,” wrote Dupont in an email to The Tri-City News, “but in no way makes me regret seeking legal recourse to my censure and sanction.
“I maintain it was the right thing to do given the disproportionate and heavy handed response from the Mayor and Council.”
Kristen Dixon, the city’s chief administrative officer, told The Tri-City News in a written statement that the city was pleased with the decision and stood by its move to censure and sanction Dupont.
“Council has taken the matter very seriously and would not have taken such actions over a minor error,” wrote Dixon, adding that the censures had nothing to do with policy or political appointments.
Dupont, a longtime environmental advocate, was censured and stripped of several her committee roles in May for breaching confidentiality when she allegedly leaked information from an in-camera meeting related to the removal of a cedar tree on a piece of property central to the city’s revitalization plans.
In an affidavit provided by Dixon earlier this month, the city was in the midst of negotiations about the revitalization plan when Dupont initiated a meeting with a city consultant and a member of PoCo Heritage Trees to discuss saving the cedar tree. That led to a new plan being drawn up that would have eliminated needed parking and could have cost the city an additional $440,000, according to Dixon.
The city maintains that the meeting and an additional two emails forwarded to members of the public were confidential and part of ongoing discussions about the project that were not open to the public.
In response, Dupont launched a defamation lawsuit against the city in June while, at the same time, seeking a judicial review of the decision to sanction her.
Dupont’s lawyer told The Tri-City News the alleged confidential leak was not confidential in the first place because council failed to pass a public resolution required by the Community Charter before holding a closed meeting.
“Our full day in court is on the horizon and I have every confidence that our voices will be heard,” said Dupont, addressing her constituents in her written statement.
Whether the city was correct in censuring the councillor for her alleged breaches will be put to the test when both sides argue their case before a court in September.
- with files from Diane Strandberg and Gary McKenna