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OPP concludes “no criminal wrongdoing” after investigation into Wollaston’s 2018 municipal election results

After an investigation into Wollaston Township’s 2017 municipal election results that spanned over two years, the OPP has concluded that there was “no criminal wrongdoing” and no charges will laid.

“We can’t get into specific allegations and what the investigation entailed,” OPP Media Relations Coordinator Bill Dixon tells My Bancroft.

The OPP was investigating allegations that Wollaston’s voter list for the 2018 municipal election was manipulated. It was alleged that owners of waterfront properties created leases that they had their voter-eligible children and spouses of their children sign. “When you have a cottage property, you can vote at both locations,” Reeve of Wollaston Barb Shaw explained to My Bancroft Now in November 2018. “Some of the leases were written for bunkies and sleeping cabins, and that’s prohibited by Wollaston’s comprehensive zoning by-law.”

Speaking on the OPP’s investigation concluding, Shaw says they cannot go any further with the information they have. “I am confident they have thoroughly explored the information they have before them,” she adds. Shaw says she has yet to meet with council to discuss the result of the investigation. “The next steps are not clear,” she says on what will happen after that. “As a municipality, we need to continue working on this.”

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Despite the OPP concluding there was no criminal wrongdoing during the election and no charges will be filed, Shaw says they’re still “concerned that something happened.”

She says council will have a discussion with their legal counsel because “more conversations” are needed to figure out how they’re going to proceed.

“There is not a lot of case law on what we had concerns over,” Shaw says of what is in the Municipal Elections Act. She adds that the act is “very, very loose.”

“Any municipality with a large seasonal population needs to be aware this is something that happened in Wollaston Township,” Shaw says. She says she suspects this will continue to happen across the province. Shaw says the Ministry needs to take a “hard look” at who is eligible to vote in Wollaston, how that happened and what the process entailed. Shaw says the 2018 municipal election results in the Township still need to be looked at and discussed.

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