Former Holyrood mayor questions warning from town’s lawyer

By Mark Squibb | June 3, 2021

Former Holyrood Mayor Gary Goobie says he has questions about a gag order he received from the Town.

The letter, which he received back in February, served to remind Goobie that he was obligated to not disclose any information he had obtained as a public official.

Goobie notified the public of the letter in a social media post last month, saying residents were asking him about the former microbrewery application and status of a long-discussed grocery store, amongst other things, questions which he could not answer.

In an interview with The Shoreline, Goobie said he was surprised to learn council not only did not vote on the letter, but was not even made aware that someone at the town had requested the Town’s lawyer write him.

“Who instructed her (the lawyer) to send it out?” asked Goobie. “She didn’t have any authority to do it on her own without approval… She could not have unilaterally, without any instruction from council, go ahead and draft up, and send me out that letter. So, I received the letter, and the mayor doesn’t even know a thing about it.”

Goobie said he wants to know who requested that he be sent a letter after his resignation and how long the conditions of the gag order are to remain in effect.

Town CAO Gary Corbett, in an email, said it is standard procedure to advise a resigning elected official of the proper protocols.

Goobie said he is not satisfied with that explanation.

“Nowhere in the Municipalities Act does it say that if someone resigns there has to be a letter sent from a lawyer saying, ‘You’re not allowed to say anything,’” said Goobie. “I’ve never heard this before. To suggest that this is a standard practice, I would beg to differ.”

Goobie, who served on council for 20 plus years, said as far as he knows there is nothing within the town’s policy to require such a letter.

“Standard practice or not, who initiated this? Who made the request?” asked Goobie. “It’s not like the lawyer is a staff person. She’s retained by the town, so any work that is done for the town would have to be requested by somebody and would have to be approved on council’s end… Wouldn’t you think if someone were to make that request to the lawyer, the mayor in particular, would have received advanced knowledge of this, that there would be a letter sent to the former mayor?”

Mayor Kevin Costello, who was acclaimed as mayor February 9 following Goobie’s resignation, said he was unaware of the correspondence.

“All I can say at the time is that I wasn’t aware of the letter,” said Costello. “I’m in the process now of trying to see how this all transpires. It’s a new topic and a new issue for me.”

Costello said he found out about the letter on May 25, following an inquiry from the Shoreline and a conversation with Goobie.

“Just this morning, I asked for a copy of that letter, and once I receive it, I will review it, and we’ll go from there,” said Costello.

As to whether council will publicly address the letter, Costello said it depends on what he learns over the coming days.

“I’ll have to review the letter and see what our plan will be,” said Costello. “If it’s just something that’s standard procedure and something that is governed by any provincial regulations, then I don’t think there’s a need for this to be addressed in the public. If this is something that’s covered by an Act or other legislation, then it’s what we need to govern our town by and live by.  If that’s the case, I can’t see any reason why we would make this a public issue.”

Goobie, meanwhile, said the matter needs to be investigated further.

“This is a proven case in point that the mayor and council were withheld very sensitive and important information, and I’ll leave it at that,” said Goobie.

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