Mayor Jack Froese said he was pleased that a judge ruled against what he called a “baseless, frivolous claim” that tried to remove Froese and two other sitting councillors from their Township of Langley council seats.
Froese spoke via Zoom a few hours after Justice Paul Walker dismissed a B.C. Supreme Court petition that aimed to remove Froese, Councillors Bob Long and Blair Whitmarsh, and targeted former Coun. Angie Quaale, over claims of conflict of interest.
A group of 10 local voters petitioned the court under a section of the Community Charter based on conflict of interest. At question were donations made by the employees of development firms which also had projects under consideration at various stages for rezoning during the election campaign in 2018.
The judge ruled there could be no conflict since the council members had no interest in the companies or the developments in question – they weren’t investors or employed by anyone linked to the projects.
“We had every confidence that the judge would rule against the petition,” Froese said Friday afternoon.
“This court case appeared to be nothing more than a smear campaign,” the mayor added later.
Froese noted that other councillors also received donations from some of the same donors, but were not named in the petition.
As a third-term mayor and former Vancouver Police Department officer, Froese said he and the other councillors found the accusations insulting.
“None of us would ever participate in illegal activities,” Froese said.
He said he was concerned the accusations could tarnish the names of the council members and the donors involved.
He noted Walker’s acceptance that the mayor and council had acted in good faith, and quoted from the judgment that the claim was based “on speculation” rather than evidence.
Froese said that the Township spent $50,000 defending against the petition to remove three of the nine council members.
“We will seek the full measure of costs from the petitioners,” Froese said, saying it’s uncertain how much of the legal fees the Township will try to recover from the 10 local citizens who launched the legal case.
Froese said he has not spoken to the petitioners who launched the case, and does not know most of them.
The Langley Advance Times has reached out to the petitioners through their lawyer seeking comment on the case as well.