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An independent, third-party review has determined that Norfolk County CAO Jason Burgess did not have a conflict of interest in matters relating to development in Port Dover last year.

The review – directed by Council on November 27, 2020 – also concluded that Burgess did not breach any of the County’s policies or procedures relating to the matter.

Specifically, the review’s findings are that:

  1.   The Respondent did not breach the Conflict-of-Interest provisions in the Code of Conduct.
  2.   The Respondent did not breach the Disclosure of Conflict-of-Interest provisions in the Code of Conduct.
  3.   The Respondent did not breach the Implementation Procedure in the Code of Conduct.
  4.   The Respondent did not breach his Employment Agreement including the Duty of Loyalty provision therein.
  5.   Common law principles of employment law do not alter the above conclusions.
  6.   The Respondent is in a fiduciary position as a senior employee, but he did not breach his fiduciary duty as per the Investigator’s findings of fact and applying the objective standard of the reasonable person in his situation.
  7.   Overall, the Respondent had no conflict of interest under the Code of Conduct and his associated Employment Agreement, nor did he have a conflict of interest under employment common law, specifically the duty of loyalty and fiduciary duty.

“Our CAO followed all of the County’s policies and procedures related to this matter,” says Kristal Chopp, Mayor of Norfolk County. “Unfortunately, rumours and misinformation – often fuelled by social media – confused the situation, negatively impacting Mr. Burgess, County staff and the County’s reputation. As directed by Council, we wish to offer a sincere apology to Mr. Burgess, and would like to assure the community that this Council has full confidence in our CAO and his team. We are looking forward to putting this unfortunate matter behind us.”

The full text of the Council resolution regarding the conflict of interest review is as follows:

WHEREAS Council directed at its November 27, 2020 meeting that a third-party investigator be engaged to review whether all County policies were adhered to flowing from the CAO’s declaration of a potential conflict of interest in respect of matters related to Breakwater Investments;

WHEREAS the independent third-party investigator’s review into the declared potential conflict of interest is now complete;

WHEREAS the independent third-party investigator has concluded that the CAO did not have a conflict of interest and that the CAO complied with all policies and procedures when he declared a potential conflict of interest;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,

THAT Staff Report C.A.O 21-17 regarding the conflict-of-interest review be received as information;

AND THAT Council concludes that the deferred matters have been properly managed and processed by the County and CAO;

AND FURTHER THAT the detailed findings of the investigator’s review be released to the public.

In a separate motion, Council directed that a formal apology be issued to the CAO.