Former MPP gives up law licence after admitting to misconduct

A Brampton, Ont., lawyer and former MPP has voluntarily surrendered his licence to practise after admitting in a disciplinary hearing to professional misconduct.

An order summary released last week by the Law Society Tribunal granted John Carman McClelland “permission to surrender to the law society his licence to practise law in Ontario.” The tribunal also ordered him to pay costs of $10,000.

According to the order summary, the tribunal found McClelland had, among other things, borrowed money from clients, including a loan of $25,000 from the mortgage proceeds of a client; filed annual reports that were misleading or inaccurate; failed to serve clients in mortgage transactions and the purchase of a commercial property; misapplied funds and mishandled money held in trust for clients; failed to keep proper records; and failed “to be on guard against becoming the tool or dupe of unscrupulous clients and/or third parties while acting for the vendor on a sale transaction.”

In the agreed statement of facts filed with the tribunal, McClelland “admits that these facts establish that he engaged in professional misconduct.”

 “There was an agreement by Carman that he had made a number of errors and there was a joint position on penalty that was accepted by the panel,” says McClelland’s lawyer, William Gilmour. “It was an appropriate resolution under all the circumstances.”

According to an article in the Brampton Guardian, McClelland’s licence was already suspended earlier this spring, when more allegations against him surfaced, including “an accusation from Bank of Montreal surrounding a $437,000 cheque the financial institution suspects was ‘counterfeit’, and a complaint lodged by McClelland’s sister, who accuses her brother of taking advantage of their ailing mother.”

McClelland, according to the article, has called those accusations “absurd and defamatory” but didn’t contest the proceedings that resulted in the suspension of his licence.

That suspension, Gilmour says, was on an interlocutory basis and not on a finding of culpability.

Leslie Maunder, who represented the law society during the hearing, said the law regulator would have suggested suspending McClelland’s licence for two years if he hadn’t given it up voluntarily.

McClelland, according to Gilmour, has also been struggling with crippling mental-health issues.

“He suffered some psychological torment and paralysis which interfered with his ability to practice law and he has taken an opportunity to carry on and heal himself as he gets on with the rest of his life,” he says.

McClelland was an MPP for the Liberals from 1987 to 1995, representing Brampton North. In 2007, he ran unsuccessfully as a Progressive Conservative candidate. He was named president of the Brampton Board of Trade in 2008.

According to the agreed statement of facts, McClelland was born in Angola and raised in Brampton. He worked for 10 years as a counsellor for youth in conflict with the law before obtaining his law degree at the University of Windsor.

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