responding affidavit of brian george
Court File No. CV-16-550104 ONTARIO, SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE
RESPONDING AFFIDAVIT OF BRIAN GEORGE
I, Brian George, of the Town of Strathroy, in the Province of Ontario, MAKE OATH AND SAY:
I am the Fire Chief and Director of Fire Services of the Strathroy-Caradoc Fire Department and a former member of the Executive Committee of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (“OPFFA”). I have personal knowledge of the matters hereinafter deposed to, except for information which arises from sources other than my own personal knowledge, the sources of which are stated and all of which I do verily believe to be true and accurate.
I swear this affidavit in response to the affidavit of Ann Bryan, sworn November 27, 2018 and in opposition to the OPFFA’s request for a Mareva injunction against the defendants Paul Atkinson (“Paul’), Colin Grieve (“Colin’) and Professional Firefighters’ Advocates Inc..
I have been a firefighter for over 33 years. I began working as a firefighter for the City of London on or around February 25, 1985.
I was promoted to the position of Captain in 2006 and then to Deputy Chief of Operations for the City of London in January of 2010.
In August of 2014, I retired from the City of London Fire Department. I subsequently came out of retirement when I was appointed to the position of Fire Chief and Director of Fire Services of the Strathroy-Caradoc Fire Department. I continue to hold that position on a full time basis today.
At various times between 1987 and 2008, I was a member of the Executive Committee of the London Professional Fire Fighters Association (“LPFFA‘). In 1987, I was elected as an Executive Officer. In 1992, I was elected as Treasurer of the LPFFA. In 1997, I was elected as Vice-President and in 1998, as President of the LPFFA. I held the position of President until February 2003, at which time I stepped down to become involved in the OPFFA Executive (as below). In 2007, I put my name in for re–election to the LPFFA and was elected as an Executive Officer for the 2007–2008 term. I stepped down in June 2008.
Between 1999 and 2008, I was a member of the Executive committee of the OPFFA.
In 1999, the Executive Committee had the following structure:
- President; Executive Vice-President; and 7 District Vice-Presidents.
The President, Executive Vice–President and the District Vice–Presidents were the elected positions. In addition, the Executive Committee had an employee position of “Executive Director.
When I as originally elected to the OPFFA Executive Committee in 1999, the President was Henry Watson. The Executive Vice–President was Frederic LeBlanc (“‘LeBlanc“). I was one of seven District Vice-Presidents (namely, District Vice-President for District 5). The Executive Director was Wayne DeMille (“DeMille“)
In 2001, LeBlanc was elected President and Ron Gorrie (“Gorrie‘) as Executive Vice President. DeMille was still the Executive Director.
In February of 2003, Gorrie resigned and I was elected by the Executive Board to replace him as Executive Vice President of the OPFFA.
In or around that time (although I do not recall when, exactly), changes were made to the elected positions on the Executive Committee. The position of Executive Director was changed to Secretary–Treasurer, which became an elected position. A new Research Analyst position was created as well (which was a non–elected position). Mark McKinnon became the first elected Secretary-Treasurer. Jeff Braun-Jackson was hired as a Research Analyst.
I continued to hold the position of Executive Vice–President of the OPFFA until June of 2008. The District Vice-Presidents from 2003 to 2008 included Barry Quinn, Jim Byatt, Terry Colburn, Ed Dickson, Randy Richards, Joe Adamkowski, Marc Leduc, Randy Richards, Greg Colton and Ernie Thorne at different points in time. To the best of my recollection, these were all of the Board members of the OPFFA Executive Committee.
In my role on the OPFFA Executive Committee, among other things, I lobbied the government for legislative change. This included efforts to have certain forms of cancer and other diseases recognized as occupational diseases, such as would allow firefighters and/or spouses of deceased firefighters to seek compensation from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
Meeting Colin and Paul and their role on the WSIB Committee
I met Colin and Paul sometime in or around 2001. Paul was a firefighter with the Toronto Firefighters’ Association. Colin was a firefighter with the Hamilton Firefighters’ Association. Both of them were involved in advocacy work on behalf of firefighters.
By 2001, both Colin and Paul were members of the WSIB Committee. The purpose of the WSIB Committee was to educate active firefighters about working on firefighter WSIB claims. In addition I understood that Colin and Paul were both involved in WSIB advocacy work for retired firefighters and spouses of deceased firefighters, neither of which were merbers of the OPFFA
At that time the OPFFA was not reimbursing Colin and Paul for expenses relating to retiree and spousal claimants, nor providing them with additional compensation for taking on these these files.
The ODC Committee
In or around 2005, the OPFFA established an Occupational Disease Committee (the ODC). Colin and Paul were appointed as its only members.
The OPFFA created so–called Letters of Agreement (based on a precedent created by the Hamilton Firefighters‘ Association) pursuant to which retiree and spousal claimants would be asked to make a voluntary donation to the OPFFA. The donation was calculated as a percentage of the WSIB award. The initial percentage amount was 1.5%, which was increased over the years. Just prior to my stepping down from the QPFFA Executive Committee in or around June 2008, the percentage was increased to 5%
The retiree and spousal claimants were not obligated to give a donation. The donation was entirely voluntary.
Active firefighters were not asked to make a donation at all
The intention was to place the donations into a separate fund – the “Retirees Cancer Claim Fund” – to be used to offset the expenses for all of the other, unsuccessful claims. I do not recall any separate account ever being established for this purpose.
Knowledge of Colin and Paul’s gift
Sometime around 2005, Colin and Paul approached the OPFFA Executive Committee about offers of money they were receiving from the retiree and spousal claimants in recognition for their work on the WSIB files.
The issue of their compensation was discussed among members of the OPFFA Executive Committee, including myself, on numerous occasions between 2005 to 2008. LeBlanc was also involved in these discussions, as was Barry Quinn. I cannot recall which of the District Vice-Presidents was involved in these discussions, although I recall that several discussions took place on this issue over the years during which I was on the OPFFA Executive Committee
I do recall that some members of the OPFFA Executive Committee were uncomfortable with the notion of Colin and Paul receiving money from retiree and spousal claimants. Other members, including me, were not. There were, at that time, no rules prohibiting the receipt of monetary gifts from third parties involved in the claims. I was aware – as, to my knowledge, were the other OPFFA Executive Committee members – that interest arbitration advocates were also receiving monetary gifts from the arbitrated Locals from time to time.
I personally felt – as did some of the other members of the OPFFA Executive Committee –that the receipt of monetary gifts by Colin and Paul was no different than receipt of monetary gifts by the Interest Arbitration Advocates.
We, the OPFFA Executive Committee, discussed the fact that it would be difficult to penalize Colin and Paul for receipt of such funds on the one hand while not penalizing the interest arbitration advocates for receipt of their monetary gifts on the other
Ultimately, the OPFFA Executive Committee simply made no decision on the issue (at least not prior to my stepping down in 2008). We did advise Colin and Paul, however, that any money received by them would have to be reported by them for tax purposes. This was in keeping with the advice provided by the OPFFA’s accountant. I, and the other Executive Committee members, were advised by the OPFFA’s accountant that any monetary gifts received from interest arbitration had to be reported for income tax purposes by the individual recipient as income.
31. Although I have no personal knowledge of their business(es), the fact that Colin and Paul would establish a corporation or corporations in connection with their advocacy work does not surprise me.
32. I, personally, did interest arbitration advocacy work until approximately 2005 or 2006. I similarly deposited any such funds received into a business account and reported it as business income.