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Judge issues decision on Bonwick's funding appeal for Judicial Inquiry

Paul Bonwick's request to the town for funding to cover legal fees was denied, his lawyer is asking for reconsideration.
There was a status hearing for the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry Oct. 29 at town hall. CollingwoodToday/Erika Engel

The judge in the judicial inquiry has turned down a request by Paul Bonwick’s lawyer to ask the town to reconsider funding for Bonwick’s legal fees as they pertain to the inquiry.

At a public status hearing yesterday, David O’Connor, counsel for Paul Bonwick, told the Justice Frank Marrocco his client wouldn’t be able to participate in the hearing without funding from the town.

Marrocco said he would consider both O’Connor’s statements and the response by the town’s lawyer William McDowell and make a decision.

“Having regard to the material filed and the submissions made, I decline to make any additional recommendations for funding concerning Mr. Bonwick,” said Marrocco in a statement posted on the inquiry website today.

In that statement, Marrocco confirmed Bonwick’s application for funding has been declined.

Marrocco has allowed Bonwick a seat at the counsel table, the opportunity to suggest and cross-examine witnesses, and a chance to make closing submission.

Bonwick did apply for funding from the town to cover the legal costs of participating in the inquiry. Marrocco states in his report Bonwick’s personal financial information supports a recommendation for funding, but Marrocco suggested the town obtain information about assets and liabilities of Bonwick’s companies before deciding on funding for Bonwick.

O’Connor argued his client should receive funding so he can participate fully in the inquiry.

“I’ve got a client, Your Honour, that has been subjected to all kinds of ridicule, personal affronts, people watching him at his doorstep and so on as a result of the bad publicity that has arisen as far back as five years ago, and more recently, in the spring when CBC produced a document the police had,” said O’Connor during the hearing. “As a result of that his reputation has suffered, his business has been devastated and so on. He’s under a police investigation and now he’s one of the prime subjects of your inquiry and yet as a result of all the material I produced to the town … they’re not funding him whatsoever.”

Financial information and the results of funding applications to the town are being treated as confidential. However O’Connor said during the hearing, Bonwick provided the town with personal income tax returns for the last two years and those of his companies Compenso and Green Leaf.

“It clearly shows he has no available funds with which to retain counsel to represent him at the inquiry,” said O’Connor.

While the judge can make recommendations on who should receive funding, ultimately it’s a cost to the town and, therefore, the town’s decision.

Bonwick is participating in the inquiry due to his role as the owner of a company called Green Leaf Distribution Inc. Green Leaf provided consulting services to what Marrocco has identified as “corporate entities” involved in the town purchase of the two fabric membrane structures that now serve as Central Park arena and Centennial Aquatic Centre. According to a report by Marrocco, Bonwick said he also has unique involvement and detailed knowledge relating to the sale of 50 per cent of Collus shares to PowerStream in 2012.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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