Condo board battle: String of disputes raises questions about elected
The Globe and Mail
Joe Friesen and Tu Thanh Ha
15 May 2017
On a muggy evening last summer, unit owners from the Five Condos tower
in downtown Toronto gathered at the InterContinental Hotel for the
meeting that would elect from among them five directors to oversee over
their new building’s $2.5-million budget.
Three of the elected candidates, Darryl McGregor, Ray Blanchard and
George Laczko, sat separately, not acknowledging that they knew one
another. They in fact represented the same unit, No. 1306.
“They never said, ‘We’re three hombres together running as a team to
take the majority.’ They didn’t act like they knew each other. They
didn’t announce which apartment they owned,” a defeated candidate, the
retired brewing executive Richard Scully, recalled.
Within weeks, the results were challenged and court claims filed.
the spectre of a concerted
attempt to seize control of Toronto condo boards and their multimillion
It was part of a series of fierce battles punctuated by allegations of
voting irregularities that have raised the spectre of a concerted
attempt to seize control of Toronto condo boards and their multimillion
One of the consequences of Toronto’s condo boom has been the creation
of hundreds of mini-governments run by elected directors. These boards
collect fees from unit owners and sign contracts for property
management, security, cleaning and repairs.
Budgets in some buildings in Toronto run as high as $3-million annually.
Court files, condo documents and interviews show that Mr. McGregor or
Mr. Blanchard or people linked to them have been involved in elections
in at least six different condo complexes in recent years.
Conflicts at condo boards aren’t unusual, but the number of boards in
which these individuals are involved and the trail of disputed
elections have raised eyebrows.
Mr. Blanchard says he is self-employed in the financial, restaurant and
real estate industries, and is a cost-conscious investor who own
Mr. McGregor is the only listed officer at Perfect Clarity, a company
that says on its website that it is one of Canada’s largest energy
Reached by The Globe and Mail, Mr. McGregor said that condo election
disputes are common and that “I am flattered that I’ve became a source
of adulation but I don’t have anything to say.”
He referred queries to his lawyer, Brian Horlick
He referred queries to his lawyer, Brian Horlick, who also acts for Mr.
Blanchard. Mr. Horlick did not respond to several phone calls and
Mr. Blanchard and Mr. Laczko also did not respond to e-mailed questions
and could not be reached by phone.
Reaction to their campaign has ranged from bafflement to outrage.
“They’re fighting hard to be on boards and that should raise a big
question: Why? I’m on one board and God, it’s work. Why would I want to
be on a board in a building I’m not even living at?” Ray Chepesiuk, a
unit owner at Icon I condos, said in an interview.
At Five Condos, the acrimony started after Mr. McGregor acquired unit
1306 in June, 2016. Property records only mention Mr. McGregor, but Mr.
Blanchard said in a court affidavit that he, Mr. McGregor and Mr.
Laczko co-own the unit.
The trio was elected to the board at the July 27 turnover meeting, the
gathering at which control of a new building’s corporation is handed to
the unit owners. However, a lawyer for the condo’s developer later
raised concerns because 34 proxy ballots didn’t actually name specific
Another vote was ordered, but the three men got a court order
postponing it to October. Meanwhile, the interim board in which they
held a majority voted in September to terminate the contract of the
property management firm, FirstService Residential.
FirstService said it was notified by e-mail at 9:40 p.m. on a Friday.
By 10 p.m., the office locks had been changed.
FirstService is now suing for $600,000 in damages
FirstService is now suing for $600,000 in damages, saying in its court
claim that the directors “acted deliberately and maliciously in
pursuant of their own personal agendas.”
L Tower condos
It was not the first time that FirstService had crossed paths with Mr.
Blanchard, Mr. McGregor and Mr. Laczko. In 2015, the three were elected
to the board at L Tower condos, a high-rise in the St. Lawrence
They then dismissed FirstService as the property manager, to be
replaced by “a lower-cost alternative,” the Blanchard affidavit said.
At The Element condos, in the Entertainment District, Mr. Blanchard was
named to the board on Sept. 14, 2016, despite the fact that he didn’t
own or reside there.
The director who nominated him was Kaive Wong, a realtor who also
served on the L Tower condo board with Mr. Blanchard and Mr. McGregor.
Mr. Wong said it was necessary to meet quorum and keep the board
“Ray Blanchard was appointed given his previous board experience and
given that no other members of the ownership chose to run in the last
election,” Mr. Wong told The Globe in an e-mail. He also denied being
part of a group trying to win control of condo boards, saying he seeks
board seats as a way to monitor his investments.
Mr. Blanchard then ran for election at the Dec. 14, 2016, annual
general meeting. Scrutineers’ documents show he received 99 votes, all
of them from proxies.
Intrigued by the high number of proxies, some unit owners later asked
to see them, but they were told that a flood had damaged them.
Icon I condos
A week before Mr. Blanchard’s election at The Element, Mr. McGregor was
involved in another vote, at a nearby building, the Icon I condos. On
Dec. 2, 2016, he purchased a unit with his spouse, Liliane Vieira,
financed with a mortgage at the high rate of 8 per cent.
The transaction took place five days before the building’s annual
assembly. At the meeting, Mr. McGregor showed up with proxies
supporting him and Ms. Vieira, according to a statement of claim filed
this spring by the building’s corporation. Mr. Wong was also a
candidate for the board, but was defeated.
Ms. Vieira withdrew from contention, but Mr. McGregor was elected.
The corporation now alleges the proxies had forged signatures. “Without
the invalid forged proxies, McGregor would not have been elected,” the
court claim said.
Mr. McGregor denies using tampered proxies and has filed his own court
In April, 2013, Mr. McGregor co-purchased a unit at the Charlie Condos,
in the Entertainment District. Mr. Blanchard and his spouse at the
time, Celina, also bought a unit in the same building.
Mr. Blanchard and his wife ran for the board at the turnover meeting
but weren’t elected. Mr. McGregor won a seat on the board.
In early 2016, an election for a board seat was won by a man named Tom
Meta, who worked at Mr. Wong’s brokerage. But questions about the
voting were raised by a condo resident who had signed a proxy and then
decided to attend the meeting. When he asked for his proxy back, he
discovered there were two such ballots in his name. Mr. Meta chose not
to take his seat.
“Based on several of the owners concerns (myself included) that were
raised at last night’s AGM, specifically surrounding the integrity of
the voting process, proxies etc., and the perception of an unfair
election, I feel that I have no choice in the matter,” he said in his
A building with
a January, 2017, turnover
According to a recent briefing document shared by two Ontario condo-law
specialists that The Globe and Mail obtained, three members of a slate
ran for the board of a building that held its turnover assembly in
The document said the meeting was cancelled because several proxies
appeared forged and members of the slate acted in an aggressive manner.
“They were told that they were trespassing and that if they did not
leave the premises the police would be called.”
The names of the building and of the slate’s members were redacted from
the document, but it said they were criticized at another condo
election for submitting 34 incomplete proxies and were involved in
several litigations—an apparent reference to events at Five Condos.
The turnover meeting for the newly renovated Imperial Plaza condos took
place on March 29. The property manager, FirstService, hired a company
to conduct its proxy balloting through electronic voting.
According to Audrey Loeb, a lawyer representing the condo’s
corporation, one of the candidates was a woman who identified herself
as Lily Marques-Viera, a name that appears very similar to that of Mr.
McGregor’s spouse. She was defeated.
On the website of a Brazilian law firm, a Liliane Vieira is identified
as a lawyer who was once “legal co-ordinator” for Perfect Clarity. The
firm lists the Imperial Plaza as one of its addresses. She did not
reply to an e-mail requesting comments.
“Where are you going with this? … Why is that an issue? I mean, people
run for condos all the time,” Mr. McGregor said when asked about his
spouse and the Imperial Plaza election.
While he did not want to comment further, his involvement in condo
elections is now part of two separate pieces of litigations that remain
unresolved in Ontario Superior Court.