St. Catharines regional councillor Andy Petrowski allegedly has yet to pay back the $5,500 in legal fees he owes to the Niagara region following an attempt to sue local government. Petrowski’s alleged inability to compensate the Region has led to an interim policy. This will stop councillors from claiming legal costs as an expense under the Regional Code of Conduct. This controversy is not the first involving the Councillor; following several inflammatory social media posts and an incident involving a pornographic image.
In May of this year, Petrowski took an official leave of absence from his position after an incident involving an email sent from Petrowski’s account. While responding to an email from a regional employee in regards to a local infrastructure project on St. Paul Street West, Petrowski sent a nude photo of a woman in a sexually suggestive pose to nearly a hundred recipients. Petrowksi’s sending of the explicit image drew outrage from the local community and Niagara residents. In a public statement, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle made his views on Petrowksi clear: “The councillor in question has shown no contrition for his actions whatsoever. Even after multiple findings of wrongdoing from the regional Ethics Commissioner, this pattern continues… Mr. Petrowski must resign, and allow council to get back to the important work of serving the people of Niagara.” Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin also publicly called on Petrowski to resign from his position following the email scandal.
Additionally, regional integrity commissioner John Mascarin has lobbied official complaints against Petrowski, in regard; statements Petrowski made about the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an. Petrowski also criticized then-President Barack Obama for making a statement in support of marriage equality in 2015.
On Twitter, the councillor can be found under the moniker hadndle @John14V27. Petrowski’s biography on Twitter reads: “Pro-Jesus, Pro-Trump, Pro-Life, Pro-Arms, Pro-Constitution, Pro-Free Speech, Pro-Business, Pro-Creation, #MCGA #MAGA #BoycottFakeNews #DrainTheSwamp”. With approximately twelve-thousand Twitter followers, Petrowski frequently re-tweets posts in support of U.S. President Donald Trump. In fact, Petrowski’s current display picture features an image of the current President, with a banner reading “Make America Pray Again”.
Following the incident with the explicit email, Petrowski sued regional council and its members, in what was reported as an attempt to stop integrity commissioner Mascarin from releasing reports on Petrowski’s official conduct as a public official. Petrowski claimed that the release of the reports violated his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Petrowski’s attempts at legal remedy led to the court ordering him to cover Regional legal fees.
Reports have stated that Petrowski has not paid the $5,500 he owes to the Council in legal fees. Also, various local media outlets have reported that Petrowski received a payout from the Region to the total amount of $44,571 for the councillor’s legal fees.
When reached for comment, Petrowski stated “The expenses that I filed were wholly related to the three Code of Conduct complaints. The invoices that I submitted were three invoices and each invoice was directly related to three Code of Conduct complaints.” The councillor also stated that, “When anyone has their Charter Rights violated, they would be advised to receive substantial legal advice”.