London Mayor Joe Fontana
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY
Despite a call from a former member of city council he stand aside, London Police Services Board chair Michael Deeb said Fontana will not be asked to do so.
"The events don't relate to his time on the board, the funds don't relate to board funds," Deeb said Monday.
But former city councillor Megan Walker told QMI Agency Fontana should take a leave while his 2005 dealings with Marconi Club are investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
At the time, Fontana was a London MP and federal minister of labour and housing.
"I believe the mayor should voluntarily step down pending the outcome of the police investigation," Walker said.
She noted a code of conduct for Ontario's police service boards states members must step down if investigated the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, the agency that oversees police and police boards.
Fontana did not return calls for comment Monday.
The mayor is under scrutiny for government cheques totalling a bit more than $20,000 that were used to pay bills to the east-end club where his son Michael's wedding reception was held.
Late last week QMI Agency showed the image of a cheque stub from Public Works Canada tied to the $1,700 deposit paid for the hall. And the former club manager said he accepted that cheque and another from Public Works for the $18,900 balance owing. A second source confirmed the payments were made through Fontana's office as an MP.
Fontana announced Monday on his website he has retained London lawyer Gord Cudmore to represent him and would have nothing more to say publicly on the advice of counsel.
A day earlier, he said on his website a preliminary review of his documents "clearly indicates a personal payment made to the Marconi Club during the time frame in question." He provided no further elaboration.
He complained QMI Agency had refused his request for documents about the transactions, but QMI is under no obligation to furnish them. It offered them to Fontana if he'd simply answer questions he'd been asked since last Tuesday but had ignored.
Meanwhile, Fontana appeared at a council committee meeting Monday. Observers said he seemed to be unfazed by the controversy that has swirled around him and was even jovial at times.
His latest Virtual Town Hall, in which he connects with Londoners and answers their questions, is scheduled for Monday evening at www.mayorfontana.ca.
Roger Caranci, another former member of city council, said he believes everyone is innocent until proven guilty and is reluctant to say Fontana should step down from the police board.
"It's up to that individual" to decide what to do, Caranci said of any politician who finds himself in a similar spot.
Police board chair Deeb said when he heard about the investigation into Fontana, he went to the board lawyer to tap his legal expertise.
He said there have been no discussion at the board level about Fontana, but "that's the advice and legal opinion we have been given."
Section 14 of the Code of Conduct for Members of Police Services Boards states: "A board member whose conduct or performance is being investigated or inquired into by the commission under section 25 of the act or is the subject of a hearing ... shall decline to exercise his or her duties ... for the duration of the investigation, or inquiry and hearing."