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Bias - Municipal

. Know Your City Inc. v. The Corporation of the City of Brantford

In Know Your City Inc. v. The Corporation of the City of Brantford (Div Ct, 2020) the Divisional Court considers a bias issue in the context of elected municipal officials:
[44] The case law is clear that the bar is high for demonstrating bias when dealing with the decisions of elected officials performing legislative functions. City Councilors are not disqualified from participating in a vote simply because they have already expressed views, even strong views, on a matter: Pattison Outdoor Advertising LP v City of Toronto, 2016 ONSC 2419 (Div. Ct.), at paras. 43-45. In order to succeed, Know Your City will have to show that Council members had closed minds and that their minds could not be changed, as described in Old St. Boniface Residents Assn. Inc. v. Winnipeg (City), 1990 CanLII 31 (SCC), [1990] 3 SCR 1170, at p. 1197:
…there is a prejudgment of the matter, in fact, to the extent that any representations at variance with the view, which has been adopted, would be futile. Statements by individual members of Council while they may very well give rise to an appearance of bias will not satisfy the test unless the court concludes that they are the expression of a final opinion on the matter, which cannot be dislodged. In this regard it is important to keep in mind that support in favour of a measure before a committee and a vote in favour will not constitute disqualifying bias in the absence of some indication that the position taken is incapable of change. The contrary conclusion would result in the disqualification of a majority of Council in respect of all matters that are decided at public meetings at which objectors are entitled to be heard.


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