Carlow Mayo Township council heard from the Integrity Commissioner, Tony Fleming from Cunningham Swan Lawyers, at their meeting on Oct. 10, concerning multiple breaches of the Municipal Code of Conduct by Mayor Randy Wallace. For these breaches, Fleming recommended council issue a reprimand, a further reprimand plus having Wallace apologize to a staff member, and a suspension of the Mayor’s pay for 30 days. Council agreed with these recommendations and resolved to enact resolutions at their next meeting in November to sanction Wallace.
Fleming appeared via Zoom at the Carlow Mayo council meeting on Oct. 10 with his colleague, James McCarthy, who he says had done the bulk of the investigation into this matter, and could answer any questions council may have. He told council that he and McCarthy were there to provide a high-level overview of the report and to have council decide what to do with the recommendations and penalties they put forth for Wallace’s breaches of the Municipal Code of Conduct.
Fleming said they had a number of examples before them of behaviour that they investigated and made findings on. Numbering seven in all, these complaints were made to the Integrity Commissioner on April 24, 2023. Several of the examples presented in Fleming’s report did not constitute a breach of the code of conduct, specifically examples 1, 2, 3, and 5 (as contained within Fleming’s report). For more details on these examples, go to www.carlowmayo.ca and look at the Integrity Commissioner’s report posted there.
However, a few of the examples did constitute a breach, specifically examples 4, 6 and 7. The first example that constituted a breach of the code of conduct presented by Fleming was Wallace’s intent to use municipal equipment at the Public Works yard.
“Our finding was that the mayor was in the equipment and did intend to operate the equipment and that is a breach of the code. This isn’t about whether the mayor is qualified to operate the equipment, that’s beside the point. The code of conduct is very clear that municipal equipment cannot be used by members of council. And there’s other reasons we don’t do that, insurance and so forth. So that was a breach of the code,” he says.
The next two examples cited by Fleming that they found were breaches of the code of conduct pertained to generic harassment complaints, which according to Fleming’s report, Wallace denied in his written response to the Fleming. One incident was the mayor suggesting that a member of staff be put in a dunk tank. He said that the context of that discussion led them to find that the mayor’s response was inappropriate with respect to that staff person. Other examples included singling out staff, and being disrespectful to staff.
“With respect to a bylaw investigation on a dog bite incident, the mayor wasn’t satisfied with the staff’s investigation. The mayor raised his voice, was disrespectful, and was directing staff. There were a number of issues associated with that. And one of them was that after I gave this council training on Integrity Commissioner code of conduct issues, one of the things we talked about was not directing staff. And one of the things we talked about was how to manage complaints. And I was very clear to council that when a complaint comes in, it’s absolutely appropriate for council to relay that complaint to staff but that’s the end of council’s role. And council is not to go back to staff, repeatedly telling them how to do their jobs or telling them they need to do a different form of investigation or more investigation, or call this person or that person. That is inappropriate and is a breach of the code of conduct,” he says.
Fleming said that this was what they came up with, in a very high-level fashion, with regard to findings and breaches. He also had a general comment with regard to Mayor Wallace, who they found was a very hands-on mayor and liked to get things done. He said that was all well and good as long as the mayor “stays in his lane,” which is to set policy and give direction with the rest of council, but not as an individual.
“Even in some of the other examples, where we didn’t find a breach, I think it’s important to appreciate that the mayor is the representative of the municipality and some of the things we investigated, which while they didn’t breach the code of conduct, don’t necessarily place the municipality in the best light in terms of third parties and other levels of government. So, it’s just a reminder to the mayor to think about the role and how best to approach the role,” he says.
Regarding the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendations to council, Fleming recommended a general reprimand from council to the mayor to indicate to the public that the behaviour of the mayor is not something council endorses or condones. With respect to the harassment complaints set out in example 6, Fleming recommended a reprimand and that Wallace apologize to the staff member in question. For example 7, which found a number of breaches of the code, including directing staff, bullying and harassing staff, Fleming recommended that council impose a suspension of the mayor’s pay for 30 days to demonstrate to the public and to the mayor that the behaviour is inappropriate and cannot be repeated.
As contained within Fleming’s report, he finally recommended that council and staff conduct a thorough review of the Municipal Code of Conduct.
“During our investigation, we noted that on a number of occasions
The township’s code is silent or unclear on matters which are routinely addressed in municipalities’ other codes. Ultimately, it is up to council to decide what conduct is and isn’t appropriate, and it is certainly within Carlow Mayo’s discretion not to adopt approaches and practices present in other municipalities. Our recommendation however, is that the township update it’s code of conduct to address behaviours that we were unable to deal with in this investigation,” he said in his report.
Fleming concluded his presentation and asked if there were any questions from council, which there were not. Council accepted Fleming’s report, and resolved to come up with the verbiage for the resolutions to reprimand the mayor and suspend his pay for 30 days at their next council meeting on Nov. 21 at 9 a.m.
The Bancroft Times reached out to Wallace and Deputy Mayor Eldon Stewart for comment on the Integrity Commissioner’s report and recommendations, but did not receive a response by press time.
After the meeting, Jenny Snider, the CAO/clerk-deputy treasurer, posted the Integrity Commissioner’s report on the township website at www.carlowmayo.ca, so it can be viewed by the public, in accordance with section 223.6(3) of the Municipal Act.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times