...Nova Scotia Barristers Society.
CBRM mayor charged with lawyerly misconduct
By TERA CAMUS Cape Breton Bureau
SYDNEY — Mayor John Morgan has been charged with professional misconduct.
The Chronicle Herald learned Thursday that the longtime mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality is accused of breaching provisions of the Legal Ethics Handbook for practising lawyers in Nova Scotia, according to the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
"Specifically, the charges allege that the member failed in his duty to encourage public respect for justice and to uphold and try to improve the administration of justice," the society said on its website.
In addition, the society said the mayor "failed to discharge his duty, as a lawyer who holds public office, to adhere to the standards of conduct as high as those which the handbook requires of a lawyer."
He’s also accused of failing to "treat the court with courtesy and respect" and failing "to uphold and encourage public respect for justice and the administration of justice."
A public hearing on the charges will take place before a committee of barristers at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Halifax on Nov. 20, starting at 9:30 a.m.
A spokesman for the society could not be reached to comment on who filed the complaint against Mr. Morgan and when it was made.
The mayor, who was appointed to the bar in 1993, was also unavailable for comment. He was first elected mayor in 2000 and has won every municipal election since then by a wide majority.
On Thursday, one source said that the mayor likely found himself in trouble for criticizing Nova Scotia Supreme Court and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal earlier this year in multiple media interviews.
Both courts quashed a lawsuit the municipality filed against the province seeking millions more in federal equalization money. Mr. Morgan, speaking to reporters following the Appeal Court’s decision in May, suggested he wasn’t surprised by the ruling because most judges and justices are political appointees of the Liberal and Tory parties.
At the time, the mayor said he disagreed with the decision by Chief Justice Michael MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, who ruled that Section 36 of the Constitution Act applies only to the federal and provincial governments, and not municipalities or individuals.
"Really, the Constitution is available to all of the citizens of the region, and I would say it’s not reasonable to say that it is only government that could bring these issues forward," Mr. Morgan told CBC News last spring.
"But the whole nature of constitutional law is limitations on government or obligations of government, so to suggest that the only ones that could litigate it is government, I think is logically flawed."
The municipality’s case is now heading to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Morgan has repeatedly accused the province of trying to kill the region, which is struggling to maintain its basic infrastructure and population. He has also chastised the province for not negotiating the fairer distribution of equalization funding with municipal officials in an out-of-court settlement process.
A lawyer in good standing, Mr. Morgan has not been practising law since becoming mayor. Last fall, during his latest election campaign, he ran on the need to proceed with the lawsuit against the province.