Joe Fontana Scandal: London Mayor Refuses To Quit

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 London Mayor Joe Fontana says he will not step down in the wake of allegations he used more than $20,000 in federal government money to help pay for his son's wedding reception in 2005. (CP)
London Mayor Joe Fontana says he will not step down in the wake of allegations he used more than $20,000 in federal government money to help pay for his son's wedding reception in 2005. (CP)

LONDON, Ont. - London Mayor Joe Fontana says he will not step down in the wake of allegations he misused public funds.

Fontana posted a letter on his website Tuesday saying he's not going anywhere despite what he calls "serious" allegations against him.

But the letter does not directly address the allegations that the former federal cabinet minister used more than $20,000 in federal government money to help pay for his son's wedding reception in 2005.

A motion to be tabled at the city's Finance Committee on Monday will call on Fontana to temporarily step aside as mayor pending the outcome of an RCMP investigation.

City council is expected to vote on the motion next month. Fontana has previously denied the allegations.

A previous motion asking Fontana to temporarily step aside was introduced at council on Oct. 30 but was shut down without debate.

Fontana says in his letter that he is not taking the allegations lightly.

"Make no mistake, I treat the allegations that have been levied as serious, but I have not and will not allow them to be a distraction from my duties and obligations of my office," Fontana wrote.

"It is apparent to me that Londoners are extremely fair-minded and believe in the principles our justice system works on."

Fontana did not make himself available to reporters for questions about the letter, but some city councillors spoke of their concerns.

"It still has been over four weeks, and I certainly haven't heard a definitive answer from the mayor with respect to the allegations," said Coun. Paul Hubert. "We are going into budget, and it continues to be my belief that our budget chair should be above reproach."

Coun. Joni Baechler said as long as issues surrounding the mayor's integrity remain unresolved, a cloud will continue to hang over council.

"He suggests that it hasn't been a distraction at all, and I would suggest to you, given the comments that we see, given the concerns raised in the public everywhere I go, at every moment, at every opportunity, that it is without question a significant distraction," she said.

(AM980)

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