A report from Dryden’s integrity commissioner finds that Councillor Nick Beyak, Councillor John Carlucci, Councillor Martin MacKinnon and Mayor Greg Wilson did not breach provisions of the code of conduct regarding impartiality, conduct respecting others, and conduct respecting staff.
Two complainants alleged the mayor and specified council members breached the code of conduct, and integrity commissioner Guy Giorno combined those two complaints into one report with permission from both complainants.
“The issue involves a public policy debate, not a breach of the Code,” Giorno wrote in the report.
“In late 2017 and early 2018, city council had examined various models for providing fire services in the community. In part, this involved examining whether the City of Dryden would be most effectively served by a volunteer, paid, or a mixed model of firefighting services. It is not my place to evaluate this public policy issue and I take absolutely no position on it,” the report reads.
Complaints alleged a pattern of behaviour amounting to collusion, bullying, intimidation and harassment, and a belief that council failed to act in a transparent or democratic manner in making changes to the provision of Dryden’s fire services, which respondents denied. Giorno found that mayor and specified councillors did not grant special consideration, treatment or advantage, noting, “Dissatisfaction with a policy decision does not support a complaint of differential treatment.”
Language used by respondents did not rise to the level of indecent, abusive, or insulting words or expressions under the code of conduct, the report says, with the situation not amounting to abuse, bullying, intimidation, discrimination or harassment under the code as well.
“For several months there was public disagreement about a significant policy decision,” Giorno wrote. “The respondents were active participants in that debate, but debating such issues does not contravene the code.”
While he accepted that volunteer firefighters could be considered staff, Giorno found that the complaint regarding conduct respecting staff “would apply only if the respondents were trying to influence the volunteer firefighters, which was not the case.”