In the heart of oil sands country, former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, Wildrose MLA and now municipal councillor Guy Boutilier could be in trouble. As Fort McMurray Today first reported on January 7, 2015, his eligibility to serve as a councillor with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is being challenged.
“At least one person has officially sworn in court documents that Councillor Guy Boutilier did not live in Fort McMurray during the 2013 municipal election — supporting an ongoing legal challenge claiming he was not eligible to run for his council seat.
In an affidavit filed in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Sarah MacLeod says she rented a room in Boutilier’s Thickwood home with several other people during a two-year period. However, she says the former MLA-turned-councillor was seldom seen in Fort McMurray during that period.
None of the accusations in her statement have been proven in court.”
Two more claims have since been made against Mr. Boutilier’s eligibility, as reported by Today. These allegations against Mr. Boutilier began in November 2014, when the issue of his residency was raised by a local businessman.
Unlike the provincial Legislative Assembly, which allows MLAs to live outside the constituencies they represent, municipal residency rules are much more stringent. Section 21(1)(b) of the Local Authorities Election Act states that:
21(1) A person may be nominated as a candidate in any election under this Act if on nomination day the person:
(b) has been a resident of the local jurisdiction and the ward, if any, for the 6 consecutive months immediately preceding nomination day, and
A fixture of Fort McMurray politics since the early 1980s, Mr. Boutilier has represented Fort McMurray councillor, mayor and MLA. But his years of public service have not been without controversy.
He once claimed that he could turn off the part of his brain where he was a cabinet minister to avoid conflicts of interest while testifying to an Alberta Energy and Utilities Board hearing.
Mr. Boutilier was ejected from the PC caucus in 2009 after accusing then-Health Minister Ron Liepert of “talking gibberish” about the construction of a permanent long-term care facility for seniors in Fort McMurray and then criticizing Premier Ed Stelmach for not wanting a cabinet minister “who graduated from Harvard with Barack Obama” (Mr. Boutilier later admitted that he never met Obama while at Harvard).