Original Published on Oct 08, 2022 at 05:51

Ontario mayor candidate Mintoff denies breach of trust, invites vindication by voters

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Loose lips sink ships, but whether they sink electoral campaigns remains to be seen.

Electoral running mates Tony Mintoff and Steve Saltsman have commented on the allegations over the past week of Mintoff’s sharing sensitive and confidential information during his time as Tiny Township councillor, along with a press release from the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FoTTSA) through president Paul Cowley.

Through an anonymous tip earlier this month, four pages of a roughly 1,200-page Freedom of Information (FOI) request was sent out to “association executives, media representatives & council candidates” centred around the ‘councillormintoff’ municipal email address during his time in council.

In the released pages from 2021, Mintoff was shown instructing the redacted recipients to “read and delete” the confidential documents he provided them.

The first provided email (March 1, 2021) was in context to the permit to take water (PTTW) for CRH Canada Group Inc. associated with the Teedon Pit aggregate operations at 2 Darby Road, beginning with a January 2021 opposition to the PTTW being rejected by the Ontario Land Tribunal.

According to FoTTSA, data by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) was collected in early preparation for a leave to appeal deadline, but was unable to be compiled the day before handing it in on January 29 by Tiny’s lawyer, Sarah Hahn. Council and staff scrambled to find a solution.

FoTTSA offered council (through appointed representative Mintoff) their aid and with help from CELA, they successfully filed the leave to appeal by deadline.

Said Mintoff, “I gave that information because I knew by the end of the day on Friday, the opportunity to request a leave for appeal was closed. It took decisive action, and I took it. It required it and I took it. Did it mean that I was undermining the organization or anybody in it? Absolutely not.”

The next status hearing with LPAT began on February 26, 2021 with a decision issued on March 8. In-between, the FOI letters from March 1 showed Mintoff providing the redacted recipient with “marked privileged and confidential” information to “read and delete”.

Both Mintoff and FoTTSA responded to MidlandToday that the pre-March information was encouraged and had saved the environmental aspect of the Teedon Pit.

In a released statement, Mintoff noted: “I deny that I have conducted myself in any breach of trust, with respect to any confidential information or with any bad faith. I look forward to any independent inquiry into my conduct so that I may have my conduct vindicated and reputation restored.”

The second set of FOI emails focused on Steve Saltsman’s involvement with the STR task force in summer of 2021. 

At the May 19 2021 committee of the whole, CAO Robert Lamb responded to Mintoff’s query why a draft bylaw and draft renter’s code of conduct hadn’t been brought to council. Lamb replied that an internal review with chief municipal law officer Steve Harvey and legal counsel from Hahn would be incoming, as well as needing time to examine what a citizens’ committee would look like for STRs.

On June 2, the FOI revealed an email exchange about STRs where Mintoff shared a response from Harvey to the redacted recipient once again stating “read and delete;” the recipient replied they “destroyed the evidence.” Days later, Saltsman provided a deputation to council where he pointed out having 77 advertised STR vacancies within a kilometre of his home.

Said Mintoff, “At the end of the day, when he did his deputation to council in open session on Zoom, all of the council members at that time said: ‘Please apply to be on the STR task force. You’ve done a great deal of work, you’re very knowledgeable about it.’

“This was not some backdoor dealing; this was up front and centre. I wanted him to be on that thing,” Mintoff added.

An email exchange on August 7 noted that Mintoff “will not rest until you get on the Task Force” to the redacted recipient as they mutually celebrated each other’s goals. Saltsman was accepted onto the STR task force, and following the first meeting he was removed code of conduct reasons.

In a public statement, Saltsman stated: “I was later unceremoniously fired from that committee for my position that STRs are not legally permitted in residential zones in Tiny.”

In the phone conversation with MidlandToday, Mintoff pointed out that Harvey’s administering, or lack thereof, of the municipality’s zero-tolerance policy had been the discussion of the August 7 email.

“Bylaw and planning stood there side-by-side saying, ‘we’re hardly getting any complaints, there are no problems,’ and then they came up with this wonderful zero-tolerance policy which was revealed probably three months ago to be the farce that it was,” said Mintoff.

As per identifying the anonymous informant from the FOI releases, Mintoff claimed he hadn’t made any attempts to contact them and labelled them as a “fictitious individual.”

“I have done everything I could to – not only me but other people – to identify who this person is, if this person is in fact a living being, number one,” said Mintoff. “The IP address can’t be traced, so that doesn’t help us in finding out which or whose email it emanated from.

“I’m left to believe nothing other than the fact that this is just a fictional character who was created by somebody or some group or faction that clearly fears me getting into power as the mayor of the municipality.

“Let’s be honest,” Mintoff added, “that’s a pretty reasonable conclusion to arrive at.”

Mintoff put forward a statement on social media earlier in the week where he stated he would not step down from his campaign run for mayor of Tiny Township in the 2022 municipal election currently underway.

Saltsman responded to the query of his status in the race as a deputy mayor candidate and running mate alongside Mintoff. 

“I have NO intention of “distancing” myself from Mr. Mintoff, why would I?” asked Saltsman. “His actions prevented an ecological disaster from occurring. That’s the story that people should be aware of.”

This item reprinted with permission from   MidlandToday.ca   Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

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