Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to potential conflicts of interest, says mayor

By Kyle Reid   |   for The Shoreline

Paradise Town Council is being extra cautious regarding conflict of interest legislation, once again deciding that Mayor Dan Bobbett is not in a conflict of interest regarding the cannabis production plant proposed for the former Robert Neal Building on Topsail Hill.

During the Dec. 13 council meeting, Councillor Sterling Willis motioned for council to find the mayor not in a conflict of interest on a decision involving the facility. The mayor had previously asked council to vote on whether he would be in a conflict of interest in matters relating to the plant during a Nov. 6 regular meeting because the owner of the building had contributed to his political campaign last year.

At that time, council, with the exception of councillors Allan English and Paul Dinn, deemed that he was not.

However, during the Dec. 13 meeting, council once again voted on the matter, but this time the decision was unanimous.

In an interview afterwards, Bobbett explained that because of uncertainties regarding provincial conflict of interest legislation, council is remaining vigilant about any potential issues.

“You do it once and you would think that’s it, but (the Department of Municipal Affairs) aren’t clear on it,” said Bobbett.

While a number of towns use one vote to decide whether a council member is in a conflict of interest on a particular issue, legislation regarding conflict of interest matters is unclear, at best. The mayor noted the Town has obtained an opinion from lawyers declaring that campaign contributions are not a conflict of interest.

“But, again, better be safe than sorry; I declare it every time,” said Bobbett.

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