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Councillor apologizes for offensive email

UPDATE NOV 27: Council accepted the recommendation of the Integrity Commissioner that councillor Bill Roberts is hereby reprimanded.

Roberts addressed council noting most people appreciate that “I’ve worked pretty darn hard for Sophiasburgh and the County on some very crucial files”, he said noting several examples. “That said, I completely understand that this item is upsetting, because it upsets me, as inadvertent as it was. But I wanted to share with council, and with the public, that I intend to reach out a third time to the resident involved, with a further apology for this inadvertent, but I agree, offensive, email – by the end of the week.

“I feel badly about the lapse of judgement that went with this. Councillors, even as in my case, at 11 p.m. on the Friday before my ship sent off to Antarctica, should still be held to a higher standard.”

Integrity commissioner recommends reprimand

Councillor Bill Roberts

NOV 25: Prince Edward County’s integrity commissioner is recommending councillor Bill Roberts be reprimanded for sending a “reply all” email “containing vulgar and abusive language”.

Acting on a complaint filed by a resident last month, council directed the commissioner to investigate Robert’s action.

Council had received the resident’s request to enforce the Council Code of Conduct in relation to an email received by all members of council, the clerk, the CAO and the resident. The next day, Roberts sent an apology for sending the email, to the same recipients.

In the Code of Conduct it states all members of council have a duty to treat members of the public, one another and staff, with respect and without abuse, bullying or intimidation.

“I will not repeat any of the language contained in the email but find it abusive and includes loutish name calling directed at the resident recipient,” stated Swayze in his analysis, noting the response from councillor Roberts was lengthy and articulate. “He regrets sending the email and did not purposely copy the email to the large group. He intended the email to go to one councillor only, but pushed ‘reply all’.”

While Swayze points out the next day apology email and a response to him from Roberts promising never to do anything similar again, he declares that “circulating such an email whether on purpose or through inadvertence cannot be excused.”

Swayze recommends a reprimand but not any suspension of Roberts’ salary.

The Municipal At 2001 authorizes council, where it has received a report by its integrity commissioner that there has been a violation, to impose either of the following sanctions:
– a reprimand
– suspension of remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a member of council or a local board for a period of up to 90 days.

The municipality approved the Code of Conduct for Council in May 2016. Swayze, a Toronto area lawyer, was appointed the municipality’s integrity commission on an as-needed basis, for a five-year period.

Council will respond to the findings at Tuesday night’s council meeting at Shire Hall.

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