Eye On Regulation


the case

In Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (Complaints Inquiry Committee) v Mathison, 2024 ABCA 33, the majority of the Court of Appeal upheld a finding of unprofessional conduct against a chartered professional accountant.

The regulated member, Mr. Mathison, was employed as the CFO of Canada Pump and Power (“CPP”). It was alleged that Mr. Mathison made unauthorized payments to himself and to corporations that he was affiliated with while he was employed by CPP.

The Discipline Tribunal found that Mr. Mathison was guilty of unprofessional conduct and imposed a number of sanctions, including a 2-year suspension of Mr. Mathison’s registration and an order requiring Mr. Mathison to pay 100% of the costs of the investigation and hearing. Both the sanction and the finding of unprofessional conduct went through the appeal process: first to the Appeal Tribunal, then to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

At the Court of Appeal, the majority upheld the decision that Mr. Mathison was guilty of unprofessional conduct and reinstated the Discipline Tribunal’s decision on sanctions.

However, Justice Wakeling wrote an intense dissenting opinion. He would have overturned the Discipline Tribunal’s finding of unprofessional conduct. Justice Wakeling was especially concerned with the Discipline Tribunal’s reliance on the evidence of Mr. Leonard, the CEO of CPP. He referred to Mr. Leonard as the CIC’s “star witness” and concluded that “[w]ithout [Mr. Leonard’s] testimony, the prosecutor had no case” (para 115). Justice Wakeling emphasized that Mr. Leonard was a partial witness and ultimately concluded that accepting his evidence was “unjustified” (para 397).

In particular, Justice Wakeling took issue with Mr. Leonard’s motivation for filing the complaint. During the hearing, Mr. Leonard admitted that he brought the complaint in hopes that a finding of unprofessional conduct would enhance CPP’s position in any civil litigation relating to Mr. Mathison’s termination of employment. Justice Wakeling found that the Discipline Tribunal did not properly consider Mr. Leonard’s partiality and “malice” towards Mr. Mathison when considering the latter’s testimony.

our two cents for free

Justice Wakeling’s dissent raises some questions about the relevance of a complainant’s motive in bringing a complaint. In our view, a complainant’s motive is not relevant to the substantive issue of whether a professional has engaged in misconduct. Professional regulators have an obligation to protect the public, and whether a finding of unprofessional conduct helps the complainant in another civil matter does not change the fact that the investigated member acted unprofessionally. In this case, whether CPP and Mr. Leonard would have benefited from disciplinary action against Mr. Mathison is secondary to the Discipline Tribunal’s determination that a chartered professional accountant transferred company funds to himself without authorization. It is in the public interest that accountants refrain from such behaviours, and whether that helps or hinders CPP’s civil case is besides the point.


Justice Wakeling’s comments are useful, however, for decision makers at the first instance to assess credibility in witness testimony. How does your organization prepare complainants before they provide evidence at hearings?

Eye on Regulation is RMRF’s monthly newsletter for the professional regulatory community. Each month we offer:

  • A Case: a (very) brief summary of a recent and relevant case;
  • Our Two Cents for Free: practical insight inspired by the files on our desks right now; and
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