Pay legal bills for McCallion’s son, judge tells Mississauga

Phinjo Gombu Urban Affairs Reporter

May 17, 2010

The City of Mississauga should fully cover legal bills for the mayor’s son at a judicial inquiry into a controversial land deal, the inquiry’s judge recommended Monday.

Mr. Justice Douglas Cunningham said a review of Peter McCallion’s finances revealed that he does not have enough “cash flow” to retain a lawyer.

“I am persuaded he requires the funding,” said Cunningham, adding that the inquiry could become bogged down if McCallion could not afford full representation.

Commission lawyer Will McDowell said he hoped Mississauga council would approve Cunningham’s recommendation.

The council had voted earlier this year to pay up to $100,000 for McCallion’s legal expenses at the inquiry, which will probe a downtown land deal in which he was involved. That decision strictly limited the type of legal time that could be billed.

McCallion’s lawyers had told Cunningham that extra funding is justified because his participation at the inquiry is crucial.

In a filing with the inquiry, McCallion said he earns $50,000 to $60,000 a year selling houses for De Zen Homes in Mississauga.

However, despite being involved in real estate for decades, he said he owns no property and turned over the title of his own house to partially pay off a debt. He hasn’t filed an income tax return for several years and “is not aware of how much he owes Revenue Canada,” the document says. It indicates he owed $12,500 in taxes as of 2005.

The proposal filed by McCallion’s lawyers would have one lawyer present throughout the inquiry, which is expected to last 40 days, to a maximum of 10 hours a day. Two lawyers, charging $275 to $350 per hour depending on experience, would assist McCallion while testifying, according to the proposal. The firm says it is willing to negotiate a cap on billing.

The inquiry, expected to cost $2.5 million, is now expected to go over budget, although it is not clear by how much. It is looking into the conduct of city business in a failed purchase and sale agreement for a $14.4 million, 3.5 hectare parcel of land owned by OMERS, which involved Peter McCallion and a company called World Class Developments.

Court documents described the participation of Mayor Hazel McCallion – who had declared a conflict of interest, according to council minutes – in at least two private meetings on the deal while the status of the land was before council.