St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse will finish out his term on St. Albert city council. An application to have the mayor disqualified, launched by resident and now council candidate Steve Stone, was unsuccessful.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Brian Burrows determined that Crouse did violate the pecuniary interest rules from the MGA on two occasions, but “it would be entirely unjust and disproportional to the seriousness of the violations to declare Mayor Crouse disqualified and his position on St. Albert City Council to be vacant.” Crouse was cleared on a third allegation related to environmental concerns at 80 Salisbury Avenue.
It’s a ruling that likely doesn’t satisfy either side, even though both sides are claiming victory. Stone has called for Crouse to resign, but the mayor won’t do so. It’s essentially a stalemate.
For Crouse, it’s got to be a weight off of his shoulders. He gets to keep his job. Burrows determined that Crouse had reached his conclusions in good faith, although they were incorrect in two instances. He did not act with malice. Crouse called the most recent case a ‘trophy hunt,’ but there is no trophy to claim.
Despite the outcome, the judge found he violated the MGA, so accusations against him were not without merit. This is no victory for Crouse. On May 25, 2015 he violated pecuniary interest rules by not recusing himself from deliberations surrounding a motion about expense claims. On Nov. 16, 2015 he also violated the rules on a separate incident regarding the funding of a defamation lawsuit. Crouse is guilty of violating the MGA pecuniary interest rules, but not so guilty that he should be disqualified. Hopefully this case will be a lesson for future members of council to be more careful when it comes to matters of pecuniary interest.
In the meantime, we have a municipal election campaign underway. Crouse is not running. There are, however, many candidates who are. Their interest needs to be on the future of this city and away from Crouse. We can’t continue to rehash the disputes of the past. Crouse will not be on the next city council.
There are many more important issues facing St. Albert. There’s the building of rec facilities including a new ice surface, swimming pool, gym/fieldhouse, possibly a new branch library, housing, taxes, crime, transit and photo radar – just to name a few. The focus needs to be how to improve St. Albert.
This legal action against Crouse has already proven itself to be a distraction in the race and it’s a disservice to all candidates. Too much attention is being spent on the outgoing mayor, when there are many well-qualified people looking to serve their community on city council. They are the people that will have an impact on the future of this city. They should be the focus of our attention.