Mayor John Close Charged With Obstruction Of Justice – a Criminal Offense ( Craig’s Commentary 2 – 39)

The politicians make the laws, but they must stay out of the enforcement of those laws and the adjudication of alleged offenses.  The reason is obvious.  You can’t have some politician sheltering his friends from the law, and you can’t have some politician using the police to neutralize his critics.

This tenet of our society is set down in the Criminal Code as section 139 (2), that section called “Obstructing Justice”.

On Thursday October 18th TSBP Mayor John Close was charged with Obstruction of Justice, (summons and affidavit of service on:, allegedly for instructing by-law enforcement officers, including the OPP, not to enforce the Dynamic Beach By-law section 4.1 (which prohibits cars on the beach at Sauble).

The story is on Bayshore Broadcasting:

and is also in the Owen Sound Sun Times October 23rd print edition.

To me this is a fitting turn of events for a mayor who issued a press release in May of 2011 falsely accusing bloggers of being “criminals”, and calling on the citizens of TSBP to go vigilante and turn the bloggers in.  (The plea failed except for one councillor who turned in stolen information.)

Enforcement of the dynamic beach by-law was discussed in the October 16th closed session of council.  John Close declared a conflict of interest and did not participate in the discussion.  Several have asked me what the “conflict” was that prompted his declaration.

I believe that in fact there was no conflict.

The press release, issued October 17, 2012, said:

“Council had given direction to staff earlier in 2012 that the Dynamic Beach By-Law would not be enforced on private property until such time a second legal opinion was received.”

The statement is a lie.  Council never gave that direction, not even orally.

I believe that before the October 16th meeting Mayor John Close and his accomplices prepared the falsehood-laden press release in order to shift blame by making it look like council, not the mayor, had done the criminal obstruction of justice in the spring and summer.  I believe that John Close declared a conflict and sat out the discussion so that he would be less associated with the blame-shifting press release on the subject, and for no other reason.

The trick won’t work.  The people of TSBP are on to John Close’s tricks, and the courts will quickly catch on too.

I believe that the next part of the press release was also made to try to shift the blame from John to council.

It said that:

“Council … will not be enforcing the Dynamic Beach By-Law on private property [between fifth and sixth] at Sauble Beach.”

This is a clear signal to the enforcement people not to enforce the by-law going forward.  It appears to be in and of itself obstruction of justice by council.  I believe that it is nothing less than a second attempt by John Close to make it look like council is committing the (alleged) crime and not John Close.

It gets even more interesting.  Council did not see, and did not hear, and did not know of, the two quotes from the press release above.  And council did not vet the press release.  Only deputy chair Karen Klages saw the release and the quotes above.

So instead of tricking council into admitting to criminal obstruction of justice, John and his accomplices have only succeeded in tricking Karen Klages into admitting to criminal obstruction of justice.

Either way John’s tricks won’t work.  Again the people won’t be duped and neither will the courts.

It’s possible that Karen Klages will be charged, but in my view not likely.  In my view she is guilty of being easily duped, but not of obstruction.

I understand that some councillors are not amused by the Mayor’s diabolical tricks, and being falsely blamed for his (alleged) criminal actions.

The big surprise for me is that a few residents (besides his accomplices) are actually defending the mayor, saying he has a right to interfere with law enforcement, or even that he has a duty to interfere.

One person even said that the Mayor has a duty to intervene because it’s a Sauble Beach issue and those radical Sauble people need to be straightened out anyway.

It’s true that this particular alleged criminal obstruction of justice really does affect mostly Sauble people.  But that’s not relevant.  What’s relevant is that John Close (allegedly) committed a crime against all the people.  And anyway the next obstruction may be John directing the law enforcement people not to enforce the noise by-law in Allenford, or the property standards by-law in Wiarton, or the fireworks by-law in Oliphant, or all of those by-laws all over the town.

Obstruction of justice should be a concern for everyone.

I look forward to your comments.


Re: October 16, 2012 Council Agenda (Craig’s Commentary 2-38 15 October 2012)

The pdf version of the full agenda package is at:

An Html version is at:

Following are comments on a few select agenda items.

Agenda Item 8.7 CLK125-2012 Raking and Maintenance of the Sand Beach at Sauble Beach

This past summer TSBP staff destroyed Piping Plover Habitat in contravention of the Endangered Species Act. The MNR was lenient and did not lay charges. Don Crain’s charm rescued the situation.

In report CLK125-2012, the Clerk indicates that the breach was a result of a vague Beach Raking Policy. That’s rubbish. The policy is wrong, but that’s no excuse for the breach.

That said, it is a good idea to clarify the policy.

And with respect to Plover Habit, the proposed policy revisions are in my view, excellent.

But I have other concerns about the proposed policy.

The proposed “purpose” includes taking into consideration:

“the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, the sensitive eco system and the needs of the tourists and beach visitors.”

I don’t mind the tourists, at least the considerate ones. But the beach is ours, not theirs. So the needs of the tourists should have no standing. It’s the needs of the people of the Town of south Bruce peninsula that count.

If raking were free and inconsequential it might be OK.

But it is neither free nor inconsequential.

Raking is very expensive. Use of so much taxpayer dollars cannot be justified just with “taking into consideration the needs of the tourists”.

And raking also brings serious negative consequences. More sand blows away, the beach becomes more of a wet beach, E. Coli counts in the sand increase, and the potential hazard to children and adults (including tourists) increases.

The beach needs to be cleaned of the debris left by the few inconsiderate cretin tourists. But this debris can be removed easily and cheaply without the harmful mechanical raking.

There should be no raking. Raking does no good. Raking only does harm.

Dr. Allen Crowe, who has studied bacterial levels in the Sauble sand, said as much in his presentation to the Sauble Sewers ad Hoc Committee on September 17. (The audio wil be on soon.)

It’s a shame so few councillors could spare the time to hear Dr. Crowe.


6.1 Regular Council Minutes -October 2, 2012 item 28. NOTICE OF MOTION-COUNCILLOR JACKSON C1B ZONING

The October 2 council minutes say:

“Councillor Jackson indicated that we can make changes to the zoning by-law and that the developers should not have to pay to institute a mini-golf.”

That’s not quite what Councillor Jackson said. Councillor Jackson actually indicated that the mini-golf park proposal can be accommodated by a simple zoning by-law clarification and that it does not need an expensive official plan change or zoning change.

On the other hand the minutes are correct in saying that Mayor Close ruled Councillor Jackson’s motion out of order.

For John Close that’s not an unusual action.

What’s interesting is the grounds on which John Close ruled Councillor Jackson’s motion out of order.

When a member of council rises on a point of order, what they are saying to council is that some other member or a presenter has breached the council’s procedural by-law, or has breached the rules of an authority referred to in that same procedural by-law (which for council is “MEETING PROCEDURES by James Lochrie”).

The rule of council in that procedural by-law that governs a point of order around a motion is A20.4 , which reads:

“Whenever the Mayor is of the opinion that any motion offered to the Council is contrary to the rules of the Council, he/she shall advise the members thereof immediately and quote the rule or authorities applicable.”

Note “Contrary to the rules of council”.

What could be clearer? The “rules of council”.

The minutes say:

“Mayor Close again indicated that there are procedures under the Planning Act. Mayor Close ruled the motion out of order.”

John Close ruled Councillor Jackson’s Motion out of order not because it was “Contrary to the rules of council”, but rather because it was “contrary to the Planning Act”.

The Planning Act is definitely not a “rule of council”.

So the point of order was itself out of order. Yet John got away with it.

If John really believed that Councillor Jackson’s motion was contrary to the Planning Act, which I doubt he did, he would be required to point that out to council according to council rule A21.11, which states:

“It shall be the duty of the Mayor, Clerk, Chief Administrative Officer or any member of the Council, whenever it shall be conceived that a motion received and read, may be contrary (ultra vires) to the Municipal by-laws, Provincial or Federal Statutes to apprise the Council thereof, stating the rules, by-laws or statutes which are applicable to the case.”

But the duty and authority here is clearly to apprise council and only to apprise council, not to rule the motion out of order and kill the motion and kill the project.

He’s pulled this stunt often. Too often.

Whenever a councillor makes a motion that doesn’t fit with his personal agenda he cries “point of order” and references some Act that no one is familiar enough with to challenge him. And he won’t ever name the section of the Act.

Or he cries “bill 168, bill 168, harassment, harassment!” (as in 2011 press releases about the blog).

Or he cries “you have stolen personal information, stop the deputation!” (discussion of John’s alleged breach of Police Services Board Code of Conduct September 19), or “you have stolen personal information, stop the discussion!” (WSIB discussion October 2nd).

He pulls the stunt on anyone that pursues an agenda different than his, or that dares to criticize his actions, or even that simply disagrees with him.

Never mind that there was no rule of council breached by the motion,

What makes it even worse in this case is that there wasn’t even a rule of any government that was breached by the motion. The Planning Act does not prohibit Councillor Jackson’s motion. Nothing in the Planning Act even comes close to prohibiting Councillor Jackson’s motion. Councillor Jackson’s motion was not ultra vires the Planning Act. Period.

In my view John’s point of order had one purpose and one purpose only, and that was to punish someone for opposing him or his personal agenda or his corrupt behavior sometime in the past.

There is no room for that kind of vindictive behavior in council chambers.

What amazes me is that John seems to have no clue about how transparent his stupid, vindictive, self-serving, Machiavellian games are.

He may have fooled all councillors except Councillors Jackson and Thomas on this one.

But he’s delusional if he thinks he’s fooling the people of the Town.

The mini-golf park would have employed some people. Not a lot, but any would be a help. And all without taxpayer subsidies. The mini-golf park would have been a good thing.

The net result of John’s vindictive actions is that there will be no new mini-golf park, and no new jobs.

I guess we’re not really quite as “open for business” as John claims.

John needs to resign. Soon. Before he does any more damage. 2014 will be far too late.