Wheatland County councillors allegedly breach “code of conduct”

·2 min read

Three Wheatland County councillors appear to have been found in breach of the council’s code of conduct, but details are obstructed because the issue appeared in closed sessions.

The conduct violations are allegedly associated with comments made during the Feb. 16 council meeting regarding provincial COVID-19 public health restrictions.

During the March 2 council meeting, a resolution was passed in a closed in-camera session directing administration to hire an independent investigation team, in accordance with the county’s code of conduct bylaw, for an official complaint filed against Deputy Reeve Scott Klassen and Councillors Jason Wilson, Tom Ikert and Ben Armstrong. This was according to the meeting’s published minutes.

Several resolutions related to the investigation were addressed during the March 23 council meeting. Motions were passed indicating the investigators concluded Wilson, Ikert and Armstrong breached the code of conduct, but Klassen did not.

However, details of the investigation, including the specifics of any conduct breaches, alleged or proven, were not presented during the public portion of the meeting and have not been released to the public. A report was provided to council by the investigators, however.

During the March 23 meeting, independent motions were made directing administration to prepare a letter of reprimand to each councillor found to be in violation of the code of conduct, in accordance with that bylaw. Each motion failed, however.

Reeve Amber Link and Councillor Glenn Koester supported each of these three motions. Armstrong supported the motion directed at himself but said he does not regret the intent of his comments within the discretion of council.

“I will not vote in favour of reprimanding an individual for spending time with their family or speaking against provincial regulations even though it goes against our code of conduct bylaw,” said Wilson, during one of these motions.

Link said the proposed letter of reprimands are in relation to violations of council’s code of conduct, rather than for discussing any issue.

Koester proposed a motion for Armstrong, Ikert and Wilson to provide a letter of apology to council. This motion failed 5-2, with only Link and Koester supporting it.

Wilson said he will not be apologizing for his actions.

“I stand beside what I did and if I have to, I will gladly do it again,” he said.

Armstrong said he does not regret the intent of his comments made on Feb. 16.

A motion directing administration to provide council options for media relations for general training and education passed 6-1, with Armstrong voting in opposition.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times