Unsealed police documents from 2014 allege fraud and breach of trust involving Collingwood town hall
June 19, 2018 ( Courtesy of CBC.ca) – A former Liberal MP may have used his connections with municipal officials in a popular vacation town northwest of Toronto — including his sister, the mayor — to secure a $756,000 consulting fee that was hidden from taxpayers, police documents obtained by CBC News reveal.
Details of the payment are contained in Ontario Provincial Police materials filed in court in 2014, as fraud investigators sought a court order to search the bank records of Paul Bonwick, a former parliamentary secretary in the Paul Martin government whose riding included the town of Collingwood.
The documents, recently unsealed at CBC’s request, show Bonwick’s company, Green Leaf Distribution, earned a 6.5 per cent cut of a $12.4-million construction contract he allegedly brokered with the town of Collingwood in 2012. The project was to enclose a community pool and an outdoor hockey rink in the rapidly growing resort community on the southern shore of Georgian Bay.
On Aug. 27, 2012, town council, including Bonwick’s sister, Mayor Sandra Cooper, voted 8 to 1 in favour of the sole-source deal, but neither Bonwick’s role in securing the contract, nor his company’s commission were disclosed publicly.
“I’m shocked!” Keith Hull, the lone opposing vote on council, said of the information in the OPP documents. “It’s very disappointing … to learn the fee and the connections involved.”
In the 2014 documents, investigators alleged Bonwick’s role was kept “secret” from council, and that the payment to his company was “shrouded in various layers of secrecy and is evidence of fraudulent activity — to which the Town of Collingwood is the victim.”
None of the allegations in the documents against Bonwick, his colleague Abby Stec, and the town’s acting chief administrative officer, Ed Houghton, has resulted in any charges or been tested in court. The force won’t say whether the allegations still stand.
But the details do provide new insight into an ongoing investigation that’s been hanging over the town for years.