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The Calgary Eye Opener

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Monday, July 19, 2004

Famous lawyer says Dar Heatherington making monkeys of politicians and bureaucrats

The Eye Opener is advised by its lawyer, Patrick ("Paddy") Nolan, Q.C., that, having made monkeys of the Lethbridge Police Service, of her husband, of the City of Lethbridge, of the City of Great Falls and of the Great Falls Sheriff's office, Lethbridge City Councilor Darlene ("Dar") Heathrington is about to make monkeys of Lethbridge City Council, of Municipal Affairs Minister Guy Boutilier and of the Alberta Government.

Last year, for reasons unknown, Heatherington falsely reported to Lethbridge Police that a stalker or stalkers unknown had designs upon her body, concocted sham emails, forced Lethbridge Police into a wild goose chase. In March 2003, for reasons unknown, Dar staged a disappearance from a taxpayer-funded junket to Great Falls, Montana, forced the Great Falls Sheriff's office into an international search, then, without explanation, turned up in a Las Vegas, Nevada casino. Throughout, Dar publicly abused her long-suffering, ever-loyal, hen-pecked husband Dave, suggested that Dave was the stalker/email author. On June 29, Judge Peter Caffaro found Dar guilty of mischief, a criminal offense - when he sentences Dar on September 10, Judge Caffaro could send Dar to prison for five years.

Alberta's Municipal Government Act reads:

'A councilor is disqualified from [Lethbridge City Council] if ...the councilor is convicted ... of an offense punishable by imprisonment for 5 or more years...

But, even after being found guilty, Dar stubbornly refused to vacate her seat on Lethbridge City Council.

Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck is a cautious, conciliatory man. On Monday, Tarleck sought the advice of Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs, Guy Boutilier.

"I'll check with my legal experts and get back to you today." said Boutilier.

Immediately, legal experts in Boutilier's Department of Municipal Affairs advised Boutilier who advised Mayor Tarleck that "the Municipal Government Act says that a councilor is disqualified from council if the councilor has a been convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment for five or more years ... Dar must resign, immediately, that's what the Municipal Act says. Lethbridge City Council can immediately apply to an Alberta judge to unseat Dar." Added the incautious, unconcilatory, Boutilier, " ... there is no grey area here. The Law is clear, she must resign ... There are two ways of doing things - the easy way and the hard way. No one is above the law, including Dar."

Screeched Dar: "Yes, Mr. Guy Boutilier, no one is above the law, including Guy Boutilier. Legally, I don't have to resign."

Council followed Boutilier's advice, instructed its lawyers to proceed to court immediately.

Perplexed at this confusing state of affairs, the Eye Opener contacted its lawyer, the famous Patrick ("Paddy") Nolan, Q.C. The transcript follows:

THE EYE OPENER: "Sir, this Lethbridge Councilor Dar Heatherington has trashed the truth, has trashed her husband, has trashed the Cities of Lethbridge and Great Falls and, now, learned counselor, is she trying to trash the Rule of Law. She's refused to resign even though she's been found guilty of a criminal offense."

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Surrre enough."

EYE OPENER: "How, sir, can she refuse to resign?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Well, ma boy, the truth is, she doesn't have to."

EYE OPENER: "How come?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Because, ya see, by definition, 'resign' implies 'voluntary' and, unless she volunteers to resign, she can't resign."

EYE OPENER: "So, there's no way she has to leave City Council if she doesn't want to."

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "No, the law isn't quite that stupid ma' boy - pretty close but not quite. The Municipal Government Act says that, if,

1. she's convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment for 5 or more years, and
2. she refuses to resign,
then the City of Lethbridge or any taxpayer may apply to the Court of Queens Bench to have her seat on Lethbridge City Council declared vacant."

EYE OPENER: "So no problem - clear as a bell?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Yes, trrrue, except the Alberta Government's been carrying the Municipal Government Act on its Statute Books and the Municipal Government Act has a big hole in it."

EYE OPENER: "Well where's the hole?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Go back to the Act. Here's what it says: "A councilor is disqualified from council if ... the councilor is convicted ... of an offense punishable by imprisonment for 5 or more years."

EYE OPENER: "Well, to us, that's as clear as a bell. And it's as clear as a bell to learned legal experts in the Department of Municipal Affairs."

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "But, ya see, an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until, eventually, a real expert knows everything about nothing. These legal experts didn't look far enough afield. Ga' to the Criminal Code of Canada and ga' to Section 730(3), which applies across Canada, which says:

'S. 730(3) Where a court directs under subsection 1 that an offender be discharged [either absolutely or conditionally], the offender shall be deemed not to have been convicted of the offense.'
It's obvious that 'convict' doesn't mean 'convict'. These legal experts should have reworded the Municipal Government Act to read not that Dar had to be 'convicted' but, rather, that Dar had to be 'found guilty' of an offense. Surrre, these bureaucrats should not have advised the City to go to court at this time."

EYE OPENER: "Well, then, Minister of Municipal Affairs Boutilier sure has egg on his face."

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "So it seems. And, if the City applies to the Court of Queen's Bench before September 10, the City'll have egg on its face - the Court will have to rule for Dar and the Court will give Dar legal costs against the City. If, on September 10, Judge Caffaro sentences Dar to something other than a discharge, then the City can apply to remove her, but only on or after September 10. But, by September 10, Dar's only on City Council for another month - the 2004 election is set for October." 18. "Is it worth it?"

EYE OPENER: "Can she run again on October 18, even after being convicted?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "Well, I'm afraid so."

EYE OPENER: "Ridiculous, Mr. Nolan, is the law an ass, sir?"

PATRICK NOLAN, Q.C.: "No, ma boy, but, sure, there's a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats who will be shown up fer jack asses if they don't follow my advice."

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