Prosecutors are going ahead with a case against Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz related to election expenses filed after the 2014 municipal vote.
In Provincial Offenses Court Wednesday morning, Crown lawyers said they intend to pursue charges brought forward by Elmira resident Alan Marshall.
The case has been in and out of the provincial court in Kitchener for months now, with no decision. At an appearance before Justice of the Peace Ralph Cotter, prosecutor Alexander Andres told the court there is sufficient cause to continue.
“At this stage, it has been determined that the Crown is intervening,” he told the JOP.
The charges were brought against Shantz last summer by Marshall under the Municipal Elections Act. He says he is happy to see the province moving ahead with the case.
“I am pleased they are looking at it seriously. My concern was that the Municipal Elections Act was simply a sham. They are really looking into it, they are taking it seriously, looking at the charges and I have my fingers crossed,” he said after the court heard the Crown’s decision.
Shantz did not attend the court session. In an email later in the morning, Shantz said she couldn’t comment on the ongoing case.
“As it is obviously still before the courts, I have no comment.”
To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Andres also informed the court that the case would be passed along to an outside Crown attorney from London – Fraser M. Kelly – for review and to look at whether there is a reasonable chance of conviction.
“Mayor Shantz is not only a mayor, she is a regional councillor and I know the regional council has full authority over the local police, and I don’t know their full authority on the courts,” said Marshall. “It may be something as little as kicking in for maintenance, but there is some connection with local courts and the regional government. I think it is a great idea, just to reassure the public.”
The charges allege that Shantz misreported her campaign contributions and had gone over the allowable limit. Marshall has previously brought complaints about Shantz’s expense filing to the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC), which eventually accepted the mayor’s revised reports and opted against a full audit or additional action. Following Marshall’s first MECAC application, Shantz was forced to step down as mayor and seek reinstatement via the court.
Marshall’s own recourse to the court resumes next month. The case has been adjourned to Mar. 23 at 9 a.m. to hear from the new Crown prosecutor.