City hall was rocked earlier this year with accusations of workplace misconduct against Doug Gillard, manager of Municipal Enforcement Division (MED). Those allegations included harassment and bullying of staff, as well using city security cameras to look at women. City council subsequently ordered an inquiry, which later concluded that an initial investigation in 2014 was handled properly and that misconduct involving city security cameras “more likely than not” occurred. Gillard remains on the job. Mayoral and city council candidates were asked for their opinion on how the current council handled the allegations. Answers will be posted as we receive them.
Niels Konge, city council candidate
Being an incumbent I am obviously biased on this. Yes.
Robin Williams, city council candidate
Yes I do. An independent investigation was commissioned and found the city handled the situation appropriately.
William Gomes, city council candidate
In my position, as a new candidate with a limited access to inside information, I am not comfortable to make an opinion on this issue; however, the concerns that the citizens of Yellowknife raised during my door-to-door visit are as follows:
- More transparency between the city and stakeholders
- Reduce the communication gap
- Address real-time issues on a timely basis
- Focus on accuracy
- Communicate the outcomes in a timely manner.
Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate
I think the council was operating under the advice of their lawyers. They should not have created an environment that could be abused.
There is no reason for a live streaming video environment. If they wanted cameras there should be a requisition process in order to investigate incidents only. Nothing else should be viewable. You can have security cameras that record and store information without live monitors. I am strongly against government surveillance in general.
Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate
I think more could have been done, however we all learn from these situations. I think the recommendation to review policy regularly is a great start. I also think the city implementing a code of conduct, the whistle blower initiative, the employee survey as well as putting the camera policy in place will help deal with any future problems and hopefully avoid incidents like the MED allegations.
Julian Morse, city council candidate
Yes, council launched an official inquiry into the misconduct allegations, which was an appropriate course of action considering the nature of the allegations. A number of policy changes were made by council, including several which council only recently directed administration to make, and will be coming to the next council for approval. On top of this, I would like to see the next council engage in a conversation about how accountability can further be improved, potentially through a mechanism for third-party investigations when officer conduct is called into question, similar to how RCMP operates. A discussion is also needed on the overall mandate and enforcement policies of our MED dept., to ensure the department is operating in line with council's priorities and objectives.
Rommel Silverio, city council candidate
Yes. The city council has commissioned an independent third-party legal counsel to further investigate whether the allegations were properly handled by the city. In my opinion, an external third party to investigate is the best way to detach from any biases and partialities. The learning that we can get from this experience is to have better policies enforced such as the Whisteblower Policy, Camera Use Policy, Complaint Process Policy, and other related disciplinary policies. It reminds all employees and elected officials about our Code of Conduct, transparency, and restores public trust and corporate image.
Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate
It has become apparent to me that many senior managers at city are unaware of what a conflict of interest even is. The only way to fix THAT is to find competent senior managers that understand what a conflict of interest is and what the guidelines are to avoid one. If my proposed ombuds office is formed, that would be the correct avenue for issues like the MED scandal to be addressed towards.
If elected, I will bring a swift and immediate stand that the personnel in question (Doug Gillard) is suspended with pay pending the outcome of a decision on the ongoing investigation into this person's conduct. I do not know Mr. Gillard. I only know his wife because of the election, and she is the city clerk. What I have read in the media and what I have read on my Facebook page after that letter (a deposition by a former officer) was posted (I took it down quickly) is what informs me on this. Bad behavior in my administration will not be tolerated and will be dealt with expediently before the ombuds panel (basically a new city court) at arms length from mayor and council. Over the ensuing decade, I imagine a city clean of this kind of malpractice.
Mark Bogan, city council candidate
City council has a reputation of being mute period. Council meetings are largely held in-camera. Responding to the people’s letters, calls or emails lacks substance.
My wishes are for citizens to enjoy an open, transparent, accountable, inclusive, accessible plus responsive municipal government.
Edwin Castillo, city council candidate
There’s always room for improvement in retrospect in the handling of such sensitive issues. Proper policies and processes need to be in place through which the council and the mayor can make decisions in a systematic, consistent and timely manner. With these in place, the new council and mayor would be better positioned to objectively address relevant risks and mitigate them while ensuring that people affected are treated reasonably, fairly and respectfully.
Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate
City council shouldn’t have to wade into personnel matters at all. But when things are mismanaged at the highest levels, as they were in 2014, council needs to have a tool for holding those responsible to account. An official inquiry would seem to be that tool, but there is no policy in place to instruct council on conducting such a process. Without a clear policy, council didn’t have a means of ensuring the inquiry was as transparent as possible, or even that council itself would be privy to all the relevant details. Given these shortcomings, I think council tried its best. But an official inquiry policy must be put in place ASAP so that in the rare cases when things go wrong at the highest levels, it has a means of holding those responsible to account.
John Dalton, city council candidate
The way this was handled has brought loss of respect to council and mistrust of this council to do the right thing. In any organization if serious accusations are made about any staff member, action must be taken immediately. The individual should have been suspended with pay, as is the legal requirement, until a comprehensive investigation is completed. In this situation, as I understand it, the individual continued to attend meetings and work. Also the terms of reference for the review were not comprehensive.
Stacie Smith, city council candidate
There is more to the Municipal Enforcement allegations that has not been divulged to the public. Without full transparency to the public I cannot determine a true stance on whether the appropriate course of action was administered.
Shauna Morgan, city council candidate
While it is well outside the role of city council to hire, fire or discipline anyone, the critical role council does play is to guide overall policy, and to ensure that rights are being protected -- both rights of the public and rights of city staff. These include rights of the public to privacy and respectful treatment by any city staff member. They also include rights of staff to safe and respectful workplaces, and the right to have personnel matters handled confidentially, fairly and professionally.
To this end, over the past year, city council has introduced a Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy, a Security Camera Policy, a Whistleblower Policy, a Public Complaints Policy, and a much-strengthened Council Code of Ethics which includes the appointment of a new and independent integrity commissioner. In addition, the city has taken significant steps through our extremely competent SAO to improve overall workplace culture. I believe we are in a much better position now to make sure that, going forward, any behaviour resembling the allegations concerning MED could not happen.
One highly problematic area in council’s handling of the situation was when we encountered information leaks about confidential personnel matters, shared during in-camera meetings, to the public and/or media. This is a violation of our code of ethics and counteracts the positive efforts underway to improve workplace culture and morale.
Dane Mason, city council candidate
The report summary states "this misconduct was not reported to City staff outside of those involved with the Department of Public Safety and that there was no indication City staff outside the Department of Public Safety ought to have been aware of this misconduct prior to these allegations becoming public in the fall of 2017”, but CBC published an article in Jan. 2018 which stated that emails in regards to the complaints were sent to both the SAO and the mayor in June 2015, which were met with the response, "If you continue to harass me with these delusional emails I will be contacting your currently [sic] employer".
This tells me two things:
(1) the scope of the inquiry has been modified to exclude some complaints, and
(2) in the absence of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, information is being leaked to the press without the proper vetting to ensure that it does not compromise the expectation that citizens have of the city to protect the personal information collected of them.
Making internal policies accessible, and adopting access to information and protection of privacy measures will make both of these issues much more manageable in the future, and we'd be able to see the full scope/methodology section instead of a summary, without any personal information, instead of just speculating on it.
Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate
Yes. The senior administrative officer (SAO) of the city is following through on recommendations contained in the full report.
Chris Gillander, city council candidate
I am not in a position to comment until I have full information. That is until such a time as I have reviewed all relevant documentation, unavailable to the public. Until then, I do not wish to pass final judgement.
Terry Testart, city council candidate
Josh Campbell, city council candidate
No it was handled terribly. City council and Mayor Heyck failed to address this transparently. I can personally speak to this as a family friend of Gary Jaeb, who was manhandled by two officers from the city. Look up the video of the incident, it's on Youtube. I addressed the mayor and council on this incident back in 2014 ... two councils ago. City council can't brush this under the rug. They cannot say "its a personnel," matter as I was told in 2014.
The victims, and those embarrassed need to get closure and at the very least an apology from the city. There should've have been a publicly available document of the review. Now it looks like two botched reviews, little public or third party oversight, and no communications plan to share those findings with the media and public.
Moving forward I also feel bad for the head of MED Doug Gillard. He has taken the brunt of this. If the letter from MED staff and former Mayor Dave Lovell are true, then we have a lot of work to do on the next council to make amends and do things right.
If residents want MED to be a police department, then more money must be poured into the public safety department, and proper policing training needs to take place. From my research, a municipality shouldn't have a police force unless our population was at 60 thousand plus. We contract the RCMP to do the crime investigations and policing. MED is for traffic stops, speed control, parking metres, and hopefully dog bylaw enforcement. As I said before, the city needs to get back to the basics of community governance: dogs, ditches and dumps. We're not Toronto, We're not Vancouver, We're not Halifax .... We're Yellowknife!
Steve Payne, city council candidate
I think city council did what we could to handle the situation. Anytime we are dealing with employee issues, we have to be careful as to not open the city up to future litigation.