Council has no power to oust O’Brien: Solicitor
Although facing criminal charges, Mayor Larry O’Brien is not obliged to step down or step aside — and council has no right to ask him to do either.
That’s according to city solicitor Rick O’Connor, who last night told an emergency meeting of councillors that “there is no statutory requirement for a member who is charged in such a situation to step down from local government.
“I think it’s equally important for council to understand that there is no statutory role for council to play at this point in time until the matter has been addressed in court,” he said.
O’Connor told councillors they have no powers to discipline, suspend or terminate O’Brien after learning yesterday the mayor had been formally charged after an investigation by Ontario Provincial Police into bribery allegations.
O’Connor noted council members were not bound by his recommendations, but councillors afterwards appeared to accept them, quickly adjourning the meeting with little discussion.
“His message was very clear. There is a legal process to follow and we do not want to say anything that may prejudice that case one way or the other,” Coun. Alex Cullen said.
Before the meeting, O’Brien thanked his friends and family for their support. A small band of his supporters attended the meeting and applauded him when he arrived.
“At no time in my life have I ever considered the possibility of criminal charges being laid against me,” he said.
“I want to assure you that as the trial unfolds and the information gets out to the public, you will see the absurdity of many of the issues that have been put on the table.”