Skip to content

Former OPSEU financial services administrator countersues union, denies misconduct

Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks to reporters at Queens Park in Toronto, on January 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — The former financial services administrator of an Ontario public sector union is countersuing the organization, claiming he didn't receive any payments he wasn't entitled to and always upheld his responsibilities. 

The Ontario Public Services Employees Union is suing former financial services administrator Maurice Gabay, along with former president Warren (Smokey) Thomas and a former vice-president, for nearly $6 million it alleges they unlawfully transferred to themselves, including in strike fund cash and union vehicles. 

In a countersuit and statement of defence, Gabay argued he had done nothing wrong. 

"Gabay denies that he engaged in any misconduct, including any serious misconduct, as alleged by OPSEU. Gabay denies that he received any payments, funds or compensation from OPSEU to which he was not entitled," the statement of defence said.

"Gabay denies that he failed to uphold his responsibilities to OPSEU, and denies that he failed to enforce OPSEU’s policies and procedures."

OPSEU’s statement of claim alleged union money was used to pay for home repairs and moving expenses for someone with whom Gabay had a personal relationship.

Gabay's statement of defence said he did not arrange for the purchase, sale or transfer of any vehicles during his employment and alleged the union terminated his 14 and a half years of employment in April without cause after a new president and vice-president were elected.

"Gabay denies that OPSEU had just cause or after acquired cause to terminate his employment," the statement of defence said.

The statement of defence said Gabay is asking the court to declare that OPSEU breached the memorandum of settlement between him and the union after the termination of his employment and to order the union to pay damages for the breach of his contract.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. 

The union didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Gabay's countersuit and statement of defence. 

In a statement of defence and countersuit filed earlier this month, Thomas alleged the claims against him are part of a campaign by president JP Hornick along with vice-president and treasurer Laurie Nancekivell to undermine his reputation and deflect negative attention from their leadership.

Thomas, who retired in April 2022 after 15 years as OPSEU president, is seeking $4.5 million in damages, including for breach of contract, conspiracy and defamation, plus another $1 million in punitive damages.

Thomas's defence argued the claim against him has "no basis in reality, and is entirely manufactured."

In a statement, Hornick and Nancekivell said they were limited in what they could say publicly but called Thomas's defence and counterclaim "fiction at best." They were elected to their current positions in April 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023. 

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Looking for Ontario News? viewed on a mobile phone

Check out Village Report - the news that matters most to Canada, updated throughout the day.  Or, subscribe to Village Report's free daily newsletter: a compilation of the news you need to know, sent to your inbox at 6AM.