October 17, 2018 Chilliwack BC: MyChilliwackNews recently spoke with retiring Councillor Chuck Stam regarding the closed council meetings and the independent auditor review of Councillor Sam Waddington’s expense during his term in office. This was Chuck Stam’s response.
In a Special Closed Meeting of Council, held on September 20, 2018, Council passed the following resolution after hearing and receiving submissions from Councillor Waddington and his two legal counsel:
That Council move to hire an independent auditor to undertake a more thorough review of Councillor Waddington’s expenses for his term of office and refer the City’s information on this matter to the RCMP immediately; and further, that Council move to correct the information statutorily required to be filed and disclosed under Section 168(1)(b) of the Community Charter, and to disclose the six related email message strings and the amended minutes from the September 4, 2018 Council meeting.
Questions about Councillor Waddington’s Claims for Reimbursement:
MCN: Is this just an audit or has it been referred to the RCMP?
Stam: An independent forensic auditor has been reviewing the truthfulness and validity of the expense claims of Councillor Waddington and has been sharing this information with the RCMP. We are unable to comment further on an ongoing RCMP criminal investigation.
MCN: People often exaggerate expense claims, so is this just a political maneuver?
Stam: In June, when the annual report of Council expenses was released as required by provincial legislation, Councillor Waddington stated his expenses were so high because he was working hard on behalf of the City of Chilliwack. He was then asked to clarify certain expenses to verify if they were personal or if they were valid for reimbursement by the taxpayer. He then reiterated names of people he allegedly met with for purposes that he said were related to City business. The officials in the alleged meetings subsequently denied meeting with him. Since Council deemed this was a potentially serious matter, they referred it to an independent auditor and immediately to the RCMP.
MCN: Why didn’t Councillor Waddington’s alleged conduct come up sooner?
Stam: The expense report for City Councillors came out as part of the annual report of council compensation in June, but it was not until his explanations came out in September that the alleged breaches came to the attention of Council. Council then promptly held a special closed meeting, giving him and his lawyer adequate time to prepare for a fair hearing, and passed the September 20 resolution.
MCN: When will the audit results be released to the public?
Stam: As the audit information is part of an RCMP criminal investigation, it is being released directly to the RCMP. While we are unable to comment further on an ongoing RCMP investigation, the RCMP and prosecutor will be able to comment publicly when the investigation is complete.
MCN: If Councillor Waddington is charged, will he be required to step down from office?
Stam: Under BC law, once a Council member is elected they cannot be removed involuntarily from office even if convicted of a criminal offence.
The final City Council meeting for the current City of Chilliwack Mayor and Council took place on Tuesday October 16, 2018.