Town of Collingwood Judicial Inquiry

  • Bribe: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust, e.g.: police officers accused of taking bribes; something that serves to induce or influence, .e.g.: offered the kid a bribe to finish his homework
  • Kickback: a return to a part of a sum received often because of [a] confidential agreement or coercion; every city contract had been let with a ten percent kickback to city officials - D.K. Shipler
  • Hush Money: money paid so that someone will keep information secret: money that a person pays someone to hush something up, e.g. he's accused of paying her hush money to keep their affair secret.
  • Collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose; acting in collusion with the enemy. 

As discussed in a previous post, the Town of Collingwood is in the process of conducting a judicial inquiry (Collingwood Judicial Inquiry) into the sale of 50% of Collingwood's utility company, Collus. The judicial inquiry is being presided by Associate Chief Justice to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Frank N. Marrocco, the inquiry's documents and live hearings are available on the Town of Collingwood Judicial Inquiry Page. In addition to the judicial inquiry, the Ontario Provincial Police ("OPP") is in the process of investigating alleged wrongdoings in Collingwood utility construction deals ("Paul Bonwick OPP Investigation").  The OPP investigation relates to sums of money in excess of $1 million that was allegedly paid in connection a series of backroom deals in Collingwood involving public money while his sister, Sandra Cooper, was mayor of the resort town, northwest of Toronto. 

The town of Collingwood's judicial inquiry also recently revealed that Cyndy Shuttleworth (former Collus financial staffer) confirmed in her testimony having received a "bonus" after the sale of the utility and was directed to cancel a cheque payable to former Liberal MP Paul Bonwick following a news story revealing that Paul Bonwick was under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police ("OPP").  Cindy Shuttleworth replaced Tim Fryer as the chief financial officer at Collus in October 2012.  Presently, Cindy Shuttleworth is the senior manager of Financial and Regulatory Report at Epcor Electricity Distribution Ontario Inc., the company that now distributes electricity to the town of Collingwood.  Cindy Shuttleworth stated that she received a $150,000 bonus for her work. In her own terms: 
"I did get $15,000 on Thursday for my work closing the PowerStream deal. [...] I understood this was in recognition of and compensation for "the extremely long hours I was working due to the demands flowing from the transaction over the prior months. [...] I believe the payment did comply with Collus policy on bonus payments at the time, but I am not certain.  Iwas not privy to the board or committee approval process."
An e-mail from Cindy Shuttleworth to someone that she referred to as a friend shows Cyndy Shuttleworth telling this person a "hush hush" secret: "I did get $15,000 on Thursday for my work closing the PowerStream deal. Paid off my car in full. Shhhhh. Secret".  Perhaps somewhat contradictorily, Cyndy Shuttleworth stated, "I was not told by anyone to keep the bonus secret", while also stating that she used the word "secret" because she was breaching her company's non-disclosure agreement as regards to salary information. 

Cyndy Shuttleworth's 16-page Affidavit also included a statement pertaining to two payments (totalling$16,950 a piece) made in January and February of 2013 by Collus PowerStream President and CEO Ed Houghton to a company owned by former Liberal MP Paul Bonwick, Compenso Communications. As discussed above, Paul Bonwick is the sibling of Sandra Cooper, who was mayor of Collingwood from 2011 to 2018.  Soon after making the second payment, Cyndy Shuttleworth stated that she was told by Houghton to cancel the cheque. In her own words: "“I recall he told me Collus PowerStream could no longer retain Compenso in light of the media coverage because Compenso’s reputation was compromised”.

Other aspects from Cyndy Shuttleworth's affidavit that drew the attention of the judicial inquiry related to the fact that the share sale of Collus to PowerStream was a sale of 50% of the shares of Collingwood Utility Service Corporation, which was a holding company for Collus Power and Collus Solutions (a company that included the water distribution services). The proposal request sought bids for 50% of Collus Power but, according to the Foundation Document, the sale changed; Cynder Shuttleworth's confirmed that change. According to Cyndy Shuttleworth: "the taxes would be avoided if it was the holding company that was sold, as the town was the shareholder". She mentioned not knowing how the final decision to sell the shares of the holding company and not Collus Power was made.

Cyndy Shuttleworth's cross-examination concluded on Friday and was followed by the testimony of Pam Hogg, who was executive assistant to Houghton, manager of human resources for Collus and the board secretary for the Collingwood Utilities Services Corporation, Collus Power, Collus Solutions, and Collus Energy.