A judge has found former RM of Sherwood Councillor Tim Probe not guilty on charges of breach of trust and municipal corruption.
He was accused of offering to trade votes with Reeve Jeff Poissant over two issues.
One had to do with money reimbursed to several councillors, including Probe, over legal fees related to an investigation into the Wascana Village development in the RM.
The other issue had to do with a Suncor development for a truck stop on land owned by Poissant’s parents.
“My relationship with [Poissant] will never be one of a friendly nature,” said Probe outside Court of Queen’s Bench after the sentence was handed down.
He said the reeve was young and inexperienced, and Probe wasn’t trying to guide Poissant but instead have a proper discussion.
“[Poissant] campaigned on healing the RM and all he’s done is tear it apart in some respects.”
Court heard Poissant recorded a coffee shop conversation the two had on Feb. 1, 2016. It was initiated by Probe so he could discuss the two issues but he was unaware of the recording.
“Taping me for posterity sake, I’m not sure if I find that laughable or not … You think you’re having an intelligent conversation and what you find out is he was trying to set me up,” Probe continued. “That, I don’t find to be a neighbourly thing nor do I find that to be a situation where you probably have the right reeve in council.”
The crown based its case around the recording, one specific part of the conversation in particular when Probe was talking. The judge read the transcript aloud in the courtroom.
“I’m back to, I’m lobbying you a little bit further on the legal fees and Suncor. I can probably get this other part if we get this other to bed but I’m not gonna do one without the other,” Probe said during his meeting with Poissant.
In his ruling, the judge explained how the recording was very unclear and background noise made much of the conversation inaudible and difficult to follow.
“As the evidence unfolded it was pretty clear that Mr. Probe had some legitimate concerns about the two issues that were discussed at that meeting,” said Probe’s defence lawyer Aaron Fox.
He said conversations like this go on all the time between politicians.
“As long as those discussions are taking place for legitimate purposes, then there’s nothing criminal about it, and that’s what the trial judge found here,” Fox said.
Probe’s seat was ruled vacant after a recent ruling over a separate conflict of interest matter. Despite this, Probe said he still intends to get back to the RM table.
“If I’m allowed to go back on council I’ll be back there next Wednesday. I will be back there without someone telling me I can’t be.”