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McCann sues City of Barrie, mystery 'John Doe' over info leak

A statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 28, 2024 says ‘confidentiality is a matter of mere lip service’ at the City of Barrie
Mike McCann announcing he was running for mayor in 2022.

Former councillor Mike McCann and his marketing company are suing the City of Barrie and an unidentified ‘John Doe’, who was either a council member or a city employee, for $5.5 million each for their role in the release of confidential information about McCann.

A statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 28, 2024 says ‘confidentiality is a matter of mere lip service’ at the City of Barrie.

Among the statement’s claims are negligence toward McCann by the City of Barrie, ‘John Doe’ inflicting mental suffering against McCann and misconduct while in public office, again by ‘John Doe’.

None of McCann’s claims have been tested nor proven in court.

There was no statement of defence filed at Barrie Courthouse by the City of Barrie or ‘John Doe’ as of April 2, 2024.

McCann could not be reached for comment by BarrieToday about the statement of claim Tuesday.

The City of Barrie did not respond to a request for comment from BarrieToday.

This legal action comes from the leak of a confidential workplace investigative summary report and a confidential staff report, prepared for Barrie city council, concerning allegations by city employee Amanda Kelly that McCann made inappropriate comments and inappropriate physical contact with her in 2020 at a pub in Barrie, the statement of claim says.

Kelly was 32 at the time and a senior business innovation and entrepreneurship officer with the City of Barrie.

The city hired a third party to investigate the matter, conducted according to Barrie’s workplace human rights policy, the statement of claim says, which requires the investigation be done confidentially. 

McCann declined to participate in the investigation because he had concerns about the fairness of the process, the statement of claim says, and that Barrie’s workplace human rights policy did not apply to the allegations because they did not occur within a workplace, but a pub.

The investigation was done anyway, and it produced a confidential investigation report provided to Barrie city council.

The report made ‘prejudicial findings that McCann engaged in the conduct alleged by (Kelly) and that, for the fact that the alleged conduct did not occur in a workplace, McCann’s supposed conduct would have breached applicable policies’, the statement of claim says.

The confidential staff report was submitted to council, with the confidential investigation report attached.

Council met in-camera, or privately, on Zoom to discuss both reports on Oct. 20, 2020, the statement of claim says. The meeting’s minutes were also confidential.

McCann’s statement of claim also says Kelly made a complaint about McCann to Barrie police, but police declined to lay charges.

Kelly filed a $200,000 lawsuit against McCann Jan. 17, 2022, alleging battery, sexual battery, assault and sexual assault, along with the intentional and/or negligent infliction of mental suffering, her statement of claim reads.

McCann has denied the allegations and Kelly’s lawsuit remains unresolved.

But the confidential reports were leaked to the media, and for that McCann’s statement of claim fingers the unidentified ‘John Doe’, and that if ‘the leak of the confidential material resulted from an act or omission other than an intentional leak by Doe…that Barrie’s inadequate policies and procedures to protect confidential information from leaks nevertheless caused the leak of the confidential material.’

McCann’s statement of claim says he complained to Barrie CAO Michael Prowse about the leak, requesting an investigation, but was rebuffed.

‘Barrie effectively condoned and authorized the leak by refusing to conduct any report investigation into the matter’, the statement of claim says.

The leak irreparably damaged McCann’s reputation and political prospects, the statement of claim says.   

McCann, Ward 10 councillor from 2014-2022, ran unsuccessfully for Barrie mayor in 2022.

The Rotary Club of Barrie asked McCann not to attend its events and would not renew his membership, the statement of claim says, cutting off his access to business owners and community leaders.

McCann’s damaged reputation also hurt his company, Sunflow, which saw its workforce reduced from 40 to fewer than 10. 

‘McCann has suffered on a more personal level from all this,’ the statement of claim says. “Doe’s leak of the confidential material and its aftermath have caused him (McCann) distress, anxiety and depression, as well as related physical detriment.

‘McCann’s personal and family relationships have also suffered, particularly as individuals have confronted members of his family…’

McCann’s statement of claim also mentions Coun. Clare Riepma, who sat on council with McCann in 2018-2022, but is not named in the lawsuit.

Riepma disclosed confidential documents to a member of the public, says a recent report released by integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig.

But Riepma’s actions were unintentional, the code of conduct complaint came too late and he wasn’t penalized.

The Ward 1 councillor apologized to those affected by this breach of information and took full responsibility for inadvertently sharing confidential information. 

Craig’s report says the complaint alleges the dissemination of confidential information to a resident who possessed confidential general committee minutes dated Oct. 20, 2020, watermarked with Riepma’s name, which were collected by City Clerk Wendy Cooke during the resident’s meeting with Mayor Alex Nuttall on June 20, 2023.

General committee minutes from Oct. 20, 2020 deal with confidential personal information and solicitor-client privilege matter, a workplace investigation.

McCann’s statement of claim names himself, McCann Marketing Inc., Sunflow Solar, Sunflower Roofing and Sunflow Windows and Doors.