Back Story: Last November a jury at the Superior Court in Newmarket found that on 20 March 2014 at the PC provincial candidate’s nomination meeting in Aurora Steve Hinder punched Anthony Pullano in the chest but that the subsequent infection of Pullano’s ICD (like a pacemaker) was not caused by the blow. Earlier in 2018, Hinder launched a counter-claim against Pullano for defamation which succeeded. The jury awarded Hinder $50,000 in damages. Hinder has been associated with Magna and the Stronachs for many years, wearing several different hats. Anthony Pullano is a long-time Auroran businessman.
By Thursday of this week (31 January) Steve Hinder must submit to the Superior Court a tally of his legal costs. Anthony Pullano is on the hook for $50,000 in damages for defamation and for Hinder’s legal costs which are likely to be huge. At this stage, I do not know if Pullano is going to appeal.
I sat through the entire trial and one matter continues to perplex me.
When Hinder was being quizzed by Pullano’s lawyer, William Reid, about his employment history with Magna/Stronach we learn in excruciating detail how much he was paid, his employee benefits and so on. Personally, I thought this was a bit intrusive.
Land development = Bonus
And then I learned that Hinder signed a consultancy agreement with Stronach Consulting (part of the Stronach Group) which promised him a bonus if the Stronach “excess lands” were approved for development. That raised my eyebrows.
At the time I recall asking myself why Hinder would be entitled to any bonus at all unless he was facilitating (or thought to be facilitating) the development of the so-called “excess” or surplus Stronach lands in some way. Perhaps the people in the Stronach Consulting Group who signed off on the contract believed Hinder could oil the wheels and get things moving faster than would otherwise be the case.
Hinder told the Court that though entitled to a bonus he hadn’t received anything - at least up until the afternoon of Wednesday 28 November 2018 when the question was put to him.
He was not asked how much the bonus was worth and what he had to do to secure it and he did not volunteer this information.
Pullano’s lawyer, William Reid, pointedly asked if he was a lobbyist for his employer. Hinder was adamant he was not and never had been.
Hinder explains why he went along to Jane Twinney’s provincial nomination meeting on 20 March 2014:
“I was there for the Stronach Group. The faster the development (of the surplus Stronach lands) the bigger the bonus. That’s the way it reads in the contract.”
“The lands are owned by Stronach not Magna. One spot is being developed.”
Where are the Surplus Lands?
The applicant for the Stronach South Development Lands is Aurora Bayview SouthEast Development Inc. (shown on the Planning Applications Status Map September 2018 as ID8)
“This is a Draft Plan of Subdivision to divide 9 future development blocks and 1 natural heritage block and a public spine road network.”
The applicant for Adena Views (ID 35) is Leslie Wellington Developments Inc.
“This Draft Plan of Subdivision proposes 145 lots for single detached dwellings and an Environmental Protection block.”
From what I can gather (and there is a multiplicity of entities here) Aurora Bayview Southeast Development Inc and Leslie Wellington Developments Inc were acquired by 2272804 Ontario Inc in 2011 and are subsidiaries of it.
Belinda Stronach is a Director of 2272804 Ontario Inc.
Planning approval was granted by the Town of Aurora in December 2016 for the Adena Views development (ID35) and construction is now underway with a few model homes finished. I assume this is the development Hinder was alluding to when he said in November that one spot (of the surplus lands) is being developed.
The Stronach Family Feud
All this is happening against the backdrop of a very public feud between Frank and his daughter Belinda, among others.
Last October Frank Stronach launched a Court action against his daughter Belinda, suing her for $520M on the grounds that she had seriously mismanaged the family fortune.
The Toronto Star tells us:
At the heart of the dispute lies “a fundamental disagreement over the proper test to be applied to managing the business and affairs” of the closely held Stronach Group, Belinda Stronach said in her statement of defence.
The affairs of the Stronachs are certainly complicated.
“The parents’ initial lawsuit described TSG (the Stronach Group) as having 253 Stronach family-owned corporations, trusts and other entities established in various jurisdictions around the world.”
In the course of the Pullano v Hinder trial we learned about the nature of Hinder’s employment with Magna and with Belinda Stronach.
Steve Hinder: a man of many parts
After leaving the Toronto Police Service Hinder started his own consulting business and landed a contract working on “corporate security matters” for Magna. When Belinda Stronach was Newmarket-Aurora’s MP from 2004-2008 he was her constituency office manager. When she switched parties and moved from the PCs to the Liberals he followed suit. From 2006-2009 he created a security program for the Magna Campus. After Belinda Stronach left politics in 2008 Hinder became a Magna employee as Head of Campus Security. He then went on to work for Magna but in a different role – Magna for Community. He was responsible, amongst other things, for developing the Neighbourhood Network bringing together volunteers, community groups and charities.
Magna donates, on average, 2% of its pre-tax profits (the percentage varies year by year) to worthy causes in the local community. Hinder told the Court the Stronach family were “very philanthropic folks” and
“It is my responsibility to understand what the needs are in the community.”
Eyes and Ears
Steve Hinder was and is Magna’s eyes and ears in the local community, recommending people (and politicians) for financial support though the final decisions lay elsewhere.
It is part of Steve Hinder’s job description to keep his finger on the pulse of the Town of Aurora and, clearly, he is very good at what he does.
Hinder sits on the Town’s Economic Development Corporation, a non-share, not-for-profit corporation which was set up last year and which
“provides strategic leadership and coordination of community economic development… to strengthen and diversify existing business, attract new business and investment, and coordinate strategic economic development initiatives within the community.”
No surprises there. Steve Hinder is very engaged in a lot of things. And that is to his credit.
But I still find it curious that he gets a bonus when the Stronach Surplus Lands are developed.
What am I missing?