Graydon Smith, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka and newly appointed Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, has been charged with violating Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. The charges were laid by private citizen Michael Opara.
Smith, the former Mayor of Bracebridge, was named along with the municipality and two Bracebridge employees in charges related to allegedly causing harm or harassing Blanding’s turtles, and impacting their environment. The turtles are a protected species in Ontario.
The charges remain unproven, and a court date has been set for September 21, 2022.
The charges arise from road grading work undertaken by the Town of Bracebridge in 2021.
According to a story written by CBC News reporter Mike Crawley, Sarah Hahn, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Town of Bracebridge said she is confident the charges will be thrown out. “It is unfortunate that town resources must now be used to respond to these baseless accusations,” Hahn was quoted as saying.
The complainant, Michael Opara, is a Bracebridge activist who has appeared before council on numerous occasions, at times accusing council and then-Mayor Smith of inappropriate actions. Sources tell Doppler there has been an acrimonious relationship between Opara and council for years.
When reached for comment, Smith told Doppler that he is unable to comment on the matter at this time.
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