Resident calls on Essex integrity commissioner to consider further action against Vander Doelen

·2 min read
Sarorn Sim says he's filed a new complaint against Town of Essex Coun. Chris Vander Doelen with the town's integrity commissioner. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)
Sarorn Sim says he's filed a new complaint against Town of Essex Coun. Chris Vander Doelen with the town's integrity commissioner. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)

The former vice president of the Windsor-Essex Cambodia Cultural Association would like to see the integrity commissioner for the Town of Essex consider further complaints against Chris Vander Doelen following the statement the councillor gave Monday as well as a regarding a possible conflict of interest.

"He really shocked me, and I was taken back by the way he presented himself and also in the language that he continued to use which the Asian-Canadian community defines as offensive and with commissioner Swayze's findings being racist," Sarorn Sim said.

In a statement that lasted over eight minutes at Monday's special council meeting, Vander Doelen defended his use of the term "Chinese flu" in a tweet he posted in April after contracting COVID-19 and said he refuses to apologize again, remove the tweet or take diversity and inclusion training as recommended by the commissioner.

Essex Town councillor Chris Vander Holden used the term "Chinese flu" in a tweet in April which he has refused to take down despite calls to do so from within town council and from the public at large.
Essex Town councillor Chris Vander Holden used the term "Chinese flu" in a tweet in April which he has refused to take down despite calls to do so from within town council and from the public at large.(Chris Vander Doelen)

The council voted to uphold a report that requires Vander Doelen follow through on the commissioner's recommendations or face a 60-day suspension from council without pay.

Further violations alleged

Sim said he submitted the new complaint to commissioner Robert Swayze Thursday evening, saying that be believes that Vander Doelen further violated the municipal code of conduct at the meeting and that he was in conflict of interest when he voted on the matter concerning himself.

He has verbal support from some Essex councillors and is currently seeking support from the Essex County Chinese Community Association, he said.

While he isn't a lawyer, Sim said he had been studying the relevant municipal bylaws since filing an initial complaint about Vander Doelen's tweets, and he consulted with legal council in deciding whether or not to submit the complaint this time.

"I fear that by not saying anything and not doing anything, we become an accomplice for him to keep doing what he's doing and for him to keep saying what he's saying," Sim said.