Dufferin News Municipal Politics

Mayor Currie Doubtful of Integrity Commissioner’s Value

Amaranth Mayor Bob Currie Questions Value of Integrity Commissioner

“I think if the people that started this, if they had to pay for it, it’d be a different story”, asserted Amaranth’s Mayor Currie, after the line item of the Integrity Commissioner entered the 2021 budget discussions for the township on November 10, 2020. “That’s my problem with it, it’s a disgrace.”

Clip from November 10, 2020 Amaranth Special Meeting of Council

The Township of Amaranth and its council have experienced a number of issues this year. These range from accusations of bullying, producing a toxic work environment, and hate speech. In addition to this, a councillor resigned during a meeting. The Mayor claimed soon after that he was going to quit too, calling fellow councillors ‘scumbags’ and ‘trash’ before prematurely exiting the meeting. This turned out to be an empty threat, which residents have called him out on. Events such as these have led to many complaints being made to the Integrity Commissioner.

In total, all costs attributed to the Integrity Commissioner for 2020 were $31,097.12. At the November 10th meeting, it was explained that a vast majority of this stemmed from a workplace harassment investigation that originated from complaints made by Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits. In a summary of the report that the investigator produced, it was stated there was evidence supporting allegations that Mayor Bob Currie had cultivated a poisonous work environment dominated by fear and intimidation. An audio clip of Bob Currie’s response to the investigation can be heard here. In a revised version of the draft budget released later that day, it was shown that this investigation alone cost the township $28,070.09. The draft budget shows that in 2019, the Integrity Commissioner line item was less than $600.

A few minutes earlier, Councillor Gail Little had said, “It is a disgrace, it’s a disgrace that we had to do this.”

The Mayor interrupted with a “Yep.” Councillor Little continued with, “And you should accept some responsibility for the that.”

“No, I should not. I did not get a hold of the Integrity Commissioner. I did not get a hold of anybody,” answered Mayor Bob Currie, “All I got was dragged through the ringer, that’s all I got. There was nothing else accomplished.”

“We’re improving council-staff relations, so that’s what we accomplished,” explained Deputy Mayor Gerrits. At the previous meeting, Gerrits advocated for a protocol to be developed regarding council-staff interactions. He went on to mention how there were allegations of ‘bad behaviour’ that the Integrity Commissioner had investigated, as well as some councillors’ names being ‘cleared’ of unsubstantiated claims.

With that, Mayor Bob Currie moved onto the next line item in the draft budget.

A few minutes later, when a line item about conferences and conventions came up, council discussed the importance of them for educational purposes. Councillor Little suggested that training for council be accounted for in the budget. Mayor Currie explained how this is not anyone on council’s first term, and he did not believe any of them needed training. Councillor Heather Foster reminded the Mayor that they had agreed to a workplace harassment seminar, and also suggested that they should budget $3000 for training in the 2021 budget. The Mayor said how he hadn’t agreed to this, “that’s for sure”.

For the record, Mayor Bob Currie voted in agreement with the rest of Amaranth’s council on the motion related to the workplace harassment information seminar at the November 4th meeting. The audio of this vote can be found here.

Before moving on, Mayor Bob Currie muttered an unclear remark about the training.

Councillor Foster responded, “Well that’s the way it is”.

Budget discussions are scheduled to resume at the November 17th special meeting of council, starting at 9 am.

References – Mayor Currie Doubtful of Integrity Commissioner’s Value

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