Response to Ms. Maxey’s letter

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Diane Maxey’s letter.

Here are the facts: the Mayor broke the law by releasing privileged and confidential material to David Kircher. She then misled Council about it, twice, and even suggested (as reported in this newspaper) that someone else was responsible. These events are serious breaches of numerous laws governing members of Council. If a member of the Town’s staff did this, they would be fired.

The Mayor has apologized and claimed that she did these things to exonerate the Town’s staff and advisors. Yet her prior public comments and emails to staff and Mr. Kircher reflect an effort to wrongly impugn these professionals and the information they provided to Council.

I am deeply troubled by this pattern of behaviour. In the past year, the Mayor has taken steps to unilaterally instruct lawyers for the Town, which only Council can do. She has unlawfully claimed to be the acting CAO of the municipality and wrongfully used that presumed authority to block me from getting information from staff. She has requisitioned consultant reports without Council approval. She has taken actions which have resulted in legal threats from our economic development services providers. These are not mere allegations – the Mayor has either admitted to doing these things, they are matters of record, or they were findings of the Integrity Commissioner.

Our democratic system requires that the accountability of elected officials be known and considered in public. Likewise, I disagree with Ms. Maxey’s assertion that I should not share my concerns about the Mayor’s actions publicly. I don’t work for the Mayor – I work for our citizens, and it is part of my duty as a councillor to address impropriety within the municipal corporation and to hold my colleagues accountable for exercising their role in accordance with law. There is no glory in being the messenger on these issues, and I take my fair share of abuse for it, but the public has a right to know.

I am aware that my website and social media distinguishes me from other members of Council. It is how I choose to keep my constituents informed about my position on an array of issues and the business before Council. I also use social media to bust myths and misconceptions about municipal government and to correct misinformation. Sometimes that makes me unpopular, but it is the public who will ultimately decide what is acceptable to them. Most people appreciate that I make municipal affairs and information accessible to them and respond directly to their comments and questions.

While I have serious concerns about Mayor Caul’s pattern of acting without lawful authority, it is important to note that the Mayor and I agree on many of the issues that come to Council. The majority of work that is done at Council goes ahead without disagreement and typically does not attract attention from the public. That work continues.

But in municipal government, like all public institutions, following the process matters just as much as the outcomes. You can’t do the wrong thing for the right reasons. We must adhere to the laws governing the institution.

I am going to continue to use my platform to keep the community informed about the issues before Council, including on matters of accountability and law, and issues where I part ways with Council decisions. I am also going to continue to provide a strong voice for change and renewal at Council, and to continue raising the concerns of young families in our community.

Douglas W. Judson