Horizon Ottawa Drops Election Compliance Appeal

This is a letter to Horizon Ottawa supporters sent to The Bulldog by long-time Bulldog reader and contributor John Langstone:

As you likely know, on July 31st, the decision was made at the Election Compliance Audit Committee meeting to grant the request to audit our organization after a complaint was made against us by former long-time Taggart development executive, Ted Phillips.

Throughout this situation, we have tried to be as transparent as possible with our membership and so this email provides a new update on the ongoing situation.

The complaint focused on our community event we held in September 2022, Horizon Fest, that saw hundreds of Horizon members and Ottawa progressives gather in the spirit of community reconnection and celebration of the growth of our movement for a better city.

While we had already reported all the expenses and incomes related to the event in our financial statement, the complaint, among other things, alleged that we were supposed to classify it as a ‘fundraiser’.

However Horizon Fest was never intended as a means of raising money – we always knew that we were going to be spending a lot more on it than we might ever hope to earn, but we felt it would be a worthy community investment after a pandemic that forced us to organize from home for so long.

After the Election Compliance Committee meeting on July 31st, our lawyers observed that there was a potential that the committee did not make a reasonable ruling in granting the audit for several reasons among them being that the committee seems to have potentially not followed their own procedural rules. More specifically, Phillips and his lawyer were obliged to cite a specific breach of the Act that they believe we had made. In their application, they failed to name one which is a requirement under the committee’s own rules of procedure to proceed with an audit.

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As a result of the potential unreasonable ruling by the committee, we filed an application for a judicial review or appeal of the city’s decision on August 15th and intended to see it through. Not only for our own interests but also in the best interests of the city as well as the rest of the province to have clarification over the law relating to the registration of third parties.

Unfortunately, in recent days, lawyers representing the city informed us that they would seek to incur their costs on to us (that have the potential to be in the tens of thousands of dollars) if we were to lose the appeal, essentially using their greater financial standing to pressure us to back away from pursuing the judicial review.

Not only does this speak to the greater issue of access to justice but it also strikes us as disappointing that the city is not interested in resolving this important legal question and instead is deciding to put Ottawa taxpayers through an unnecessary and expensive audit process.

Because of this regrettable decision by the city, we have chosen to drop the appeal and undergo the audit.

We are a small, grassroots organization, funded by the generous support of individual donors. Undergoing a judicial review process while the city threatens us with potentially high legal fees is something that we cannot, in good faith, put our members or organization through at this stage.

As we have said since the beginning of this process, we have no issue with opening up our books. We have been transparent and accountable at every step of this process, including in filing our election financial return last March and so look forward to the outcome.

We are proud of the incredible impact we have achieved in the last two years and will continue to be a strong voice for progressive change in this city regardless of the challenges we might face.

The Horizon Ottawa Board of Directors


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1 Response

  1. Bruce says:

    Ottawa using “bully tactics” with taxpayers money Sounds a lot like the way they shut down people who hear and report things which the city wants kept quiet!

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