Complaint laid against Colchester County councillor after remark at Christmas party

A complaint has been laid against a Colchester County councillor by a female employee after a remark was made at a municipal Christmas Party in Debert, N.S.

Bob Pash represents District 9. He was a councillor two decades ago and was elected once again in 2016.

"It was an inappropriate comment that she took the wrong way," said Pash. "I grew up saying that to people and they'd either laugh or say thank you very much."

Pash declined to elaborate on the remark. He insists it was not vulgar.

'I'm not that type of person'

"I'm not that type of a person," said Pash. "It wasn't meant the way she perceived it."

Pash said he would have apologized immediately if the woman had raised concerns at the time.

It is unclear how the complaint will proceed.

CBC

"Your guess is as good as mine," said Pash. "They can't take my council seat away."

Calls from CBC to Colchester's chief administrative officer and mayor were not immediately returned.

No policy in Colchester County

Colchester County has not yet adopted a code of conduct for elected officials even though the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities sent a template to all municipalities last April.

Colchester County does not have a sexual harassment or respectful workplace policy posted on its website.

There are only 3 other counties — Digby, East Hants and Yarmouth — that don't have any of those policies posted on their websites. In Guysborough County, there is only a values and ethics policy.

A couple of counties without code of conduct policies for elected officials do have rules for preventing or dealing with sexual harassment.

Cumberland County's policy states that 'sexist jokes that are embarrassing or offensive will not be tolerated.' The policy also outlines a process for a complaint to be investigated.

Kings County has a code of conduct and a separate policy outlining how investigations of complaints should be handled, including timelines, the scope of investigations and any correction actions. Councillors could receive a warning, a reprimand, be asked to apologize or be removed from a council committee.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a code of conduct for elected officials, a respectful workplace policy and an ethical conduct policy.

The Halifax Regional Municipality adopted a code of conduct in 2009 for municipal councillors and updated its workplace rights and harassment policy after a Nova Scotia human rights ruling in 2018 involving a transit employee.

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