West Lincoln Councillor and truck driver Harold Jonker is suing the Township of West Lincoln after being reprimanded for participating in the Freedom Convoy earlier this year.
In July, the town council voted to penalize Jonker by suspending his pay and requiring him to reimburse any gifts he received in the form of food or fuel during the convoy trip.
On Monday, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announced a lawsuit on behalf of Jonker.
“This lawsuit seeks to strike the decision to financially punish Mr. Jonker. Justice Centre lawyers assert that the decision is invalid due to procedural irregularities, factual errors and flawed findings in the investigative report prepared by West Lincoln’s Integrity Commissioner, most notably the finding that Mr. Jonker participated in an illegal activity,” wrote the JCCF in a release.
“The lawsuit also claims that the decision violated Mr. Jonker’s Charter right to freedom of expression”
In July, the law firm Aird & Berlis LLP published a report on Jonker’s actions finding him to break the code of conduct on two counts. Jonker was cited for requiring a duty of loyalty to residents and accepting gifts or benefits. The investigation focused on Jonker’s involvement in leading the Niagara convoy.
According to Jonker, he was among the first trucks to arrive on Parliament Hill. He did not attend the demonstration as a councillor but as a truck driver, he said.
“Me going to Ottawa was not me in any way, shape or form as a Township of West Lincoln councillor but as a truck driver and a business owner and as a father who has a lot of concerns of where we are going in society today,” Jonker told Blacklock’s Reporter.
“I hope and pray we as council can see through this confusion.”
The JCCF argues that Jonker was “punished for his political position.”
“In Canada, we must tolerate strong differences in political opinion. Elected politicians should not be permitted to weaponize codes of conduct to silence and intimidate their political opponents,” JCCF lawyer Jorge Pineda said.
“The Charter is intended to guarantee free expression. Canadian democratic institutions cannot survive if such guarantees can be easily ignored through these kinds of tactics.”
Hearings for the commission investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act to quash the convoy have been postponed to October 13 due to the commissioner’s health.