Crown drops charges of municipal corruption against former Timmins Coun. Rick Dubeau
Criminal charges against former Timmins Coun. Rick Dubeau have been withdrawn.
Dubeau had been accused of municipal corruption and breach of trust by a public officer.
At the Crown’s request, both charges were withdrawn by Judge Cindy MacDonald in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Timmins Friday afternoon.
The charges stemmed from the fact Dubeau had approached Goldcorp about purchasing his property in Schumacher.
Dubeau was a city councillor at the time, but he was also among a group of residents who had concerns about the effect Goldcorp’s mining operation would have on property values. The residents were discussing the idea of initiating a class action suit.
In order to gain a conviction, the Crown would have had to convince a jury Dubeau approached Goldcorp as a member of city council.
If the matter had gone to trial, the defence would have argued Dubeau met with Goldcorp as a citizen and the individual most likely to lead the charge for a class action suit.
On Friday, Assistant Crown Attorney Wayne O’Hanley presented an application to the court to withdraw the charges on the basis there was no reasonable prospect for a conviction.
Dubeau was seated in the audience of the courtroom with his wife Gilda and half a dozen other family members filling the first two rows behind where the defence lawyers were seated.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, Gilda, her eyes welling with tears, stood up and hugged her husband while the other family members shook Dubeau’s hand and congratulated him.
Speaking outside the courtroom afterwards, Dubeau read from a prepared statement, “This has been a very trying time for me and my family. I always had faith in the criminal justice system. We’re relieved the process is over. I always felt this issue was the result of a misunderstanding.
“Let me be clear, at no time did I offer my support as a councillor to Goldcorp.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support; most notably we’d like to thank our lawyers Luc Maisonneuve and Ben Dawkins for their moral support and hard work in developing an incredible case for my defence that has resulted in all the charges being withdrawn.”
Dubeau, who had maintained his innocence from the time he was charged in September 2017, said he felt vindicated by the Crown’s decision to withdraw the charges.
“Most definitely,” he told The Daily Press. “Obviously, I wouldn’t have gone this far with the case if I didn’t feel I would be vindicated in the end. I wouldn’t have run for reelection if I didn’t feel I was innocent of all charges.
“And if it had gone to court, we were confident that’s what would have been the verdict.”
Dubeau ran for re- election in October with criminal charges still hanging over him, the matter unresolved.
Asked if he subscribed to a view expressed by many of Dubeau’s supporters on social media, that there were political influences which led police to lay these charges, Dubeau replied, “I can’t speak to that. All I know is that you see the results, you see what happened ( in court), and you heard what the Crown had to say.
“As to the conversation, I’m stunned I was charged in the first place and it got to this.”
The Crown’s case included an 18- minute recording of a conversation Dubeau had with two local Goldcorp managers in August 2017.
The discussion centred on a class action lawsuit which Dubeau suggested was unlikely to move forward without his leadership. If Goldcorp was willing to purchase his residential property “at a premium,” Dubeau offered to “back off.”
“I can be an ally going forward or I can be a real pain in the ass,” Dubeau is heard saying on the tape which was recorded openly by one of the two Goldcorp representatives.
The recording was played in its entirety during the preliminary hearing held last April.
At one point, Dubeau was asked directly on the recording if he would be “more in support … as a councillor” of the open mine pit project “if we buy your house?”
“No, I didn’t say that,” Dubeau is heard replying.
Speaking to The Daily Press outside the courtroom on Friday, Dubeau said, “I mentioned several times ( during his conversation with Goldcorp) I was there as a taxpayer. The one time that they asked me would I provide extra support for the project if we buy your house, and I said no. When I had the one chance to answer a direct question, I said no.
“Then Goldcorp kept asking the same questions over and over again in a different manner.”
Maisonneuve explained in court Dubeau wanted Goldcorp to purchase his property at a price above market value only because the land value had dropped due to mining activity in the area. Maisonneuve said Dubeau was merely trying to “recoup” that loss.
O’Hanley conceded there was uncertainty in the minds of the Goldcorp representatives whether Dubeau’s offer to be an “ally” was in his capacity as a city councillor or a citizen.
O’Hanley said they subsequently informed Goldcorp’s in- house legal counsel who recommended contacting the mayor’s office which in turn contacted the Timmins Police Service which then turned the matter over to the Sault Ste. Marie police in an effort to ensure objectivity during the investigation.
Former Mayor Steve Black reached out to the Daily Press stating that he in fact was not the one who contacted the police.
“Dave Landers ( the city’s chief administrator) and I went to our legal counsel and they handled discussions with Goldcorp and the police,” he told The Daily Press
With the charges now behind him, Dubeau was asked if he plans to resume his political involvement in the community as he had in the past.
“I still believe very strongly in the City of Timmins,” he said. “Anything I can do to help make our city better, I will always be involved in some way, shape or form — it’s just to be determined, yet.”
Former city councillor Rick Dubeau smiles outside the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Timmins Friday afternoon after having charges of municipal corruption and breach of trust by a public officer withdrawn.