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Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson at a presser about the city's annual homeless count, at the Kettle Friendship Society in Vancouver, B.C., on March 24, 2015. David Wotherspoon, a lawyer from the firm Fasken Martineau, told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday that the actions of Mayor Gregor Robertson and councillor Geoff Meggs during last fall’s election campaign put them in a conflict of interest that could have caused the public to lose confidence.Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

A lawyer for a citizens group says Vancouver's mayor and a senior councillor should be removed from office because they crossed the line by appearing to suggest they were promising more union jobs at city hall in exchange for a campaign donation.

David Wotherspoon, a lawyer from the firm Fasken Martineau, told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday that the actions of Mayor Gregor Robertson and councillor Geoff Meggs during last fall's election campaign put them in a conflict of interest that could have caused the public to lose confidence.

The firm was hired by five people affiliated with activist groups that have repeatedly challenged the Vision Vancouver party.

Mr. Wotherspoon also argued that Justice Elliott Myers does not need conclusive proof there was a conflict, only that there might be one.

The case revolves around a taped conversation leaked to the media in which, Mr. Wotherspoon said, Mr. Meggs went beyond information about Vision Vancouver policy last fall as he was talking to a union group about getting campaign money from them.

"The mischief, I say, was that Mr. Meggs … moved from a general policy statement to commitments to undertake certain benefits to [Canadian Union of Public Employees] members," said Mr. Wotherspoon.

Mr. Meggs was in the courtroom all day, but the mayor did not appear.

The surreptitiously taped remarks by Mr. Meggs came from a meeting in which several candidates from different parties had come to talk to the union executive about campaign donations.

Mr. Wotherspoon said it was all right when Mr. Meggs told the executive of CUPE 1004, which represents the city's outside workers, that Mayor Robertson "has again recommitted to not extend contracting out."

But, he said, Mr. Meggs went beyond that by saying that, whenever any "new process" came to city hall, "members of 1004 will be there delivering those services."

Mr. Wotherspoon said the final piece of evidence that there was an implied deal to exchange jobs for money was when one of the union representatives said, after the politicians had left, that the donation was aimed at currying favour with Vision Vancouver and should not be given unconditionally.

CUPE 1004 eventually decided to donate $34,000 to the Vision Vancouver campaign. The party spent $3-million in the campaign and raised $2.5-million in total, with the biggest chunk coming from donors in the development sector.

The judge disallowed large segments from the affadavits of the five people whose names are on the lawsuit.

He also disallowed parts of the affadavit from Mr. Meggs.

If the lawsuit is successful, control of council would pass to the Non-Partisan Association and the party's mayoral candidate, Kirk LaPointe, who lost to Mr. Robertson by 10,000 votes.

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