Embattled bylaw boss stays put for investigation update

by Avery Zingel - May 29, 2018

Bylaw boss Doug Gillard remained in a committee meeting while senior administration detailed next steps into the city’s mounting investigation into workplace misconduct allegations made against him. Before senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett provided councillors an update on the official inquiry, Debbie Gillard, who is Doug Gillard’s wife and the city clerk, left the meeting, but Doug stayed.

He sat at the back of the room of a municipal services committee meeting, while the SAO detailed the coming phases of an investigation into allegations that he made sexually innapropriate comments about women who worked at the city, spit on officers sunglasses and hit them in the groin.

He is also alleged to have used city-owned security cameras to look at women he found attractive.

Coun. Adrian Bell questioned Bassi-Kellett about why Gillard had stayed in the room.

“I note that Mrs. Gillard has excused herself of conflict. Mr. Gillard is in the room. I don’t know if that is an issue of conflict or comfort for discussion,” said Bell.

Debbie Gillard has routinely left proceedings where Doug Gillard has been discussed, said Bassi-Kellett.

“Ms. Gillard leaves the room any time that the official inquiry is discussed, given that there have been discussions both in public and in camera,” she said. “The optic has been that for any discussion whatsoever that she leaves the room so that its very clear she is never part of the discussions and deliberations in her role as city clerk.”

However, Gillard stays in public meetings because he and fire chief John Fredericks are representing the public safety department.

“For the public part of this, he is here as a member of the senior management team in an acting capacity,” said Bassi-Kellett.

Gillard is not privy to discussions that would occur in closed door meetings, she said.

Yellowknifer asked city officials to clarify Gillard’s role.

A city receptionist volunteered information to Yellowknifer that the MED boss is sharing the role of acting director with fire chief John Fredericks.

City communications officials state the opposite.

“Mr. Gillard is not acting director of Public Safety,” said communications officer Richard McIntosh in an email to Yellowknifer.

“Until a director of public safety is hired, the manager of municipal enforcement and the fire chief report directly to the senior administrative officer.”

Miller Thomson LLP, a national law firm contracted by the city, has hired Dev Chankasingh as the investigator for the official inquiry.

Chankasingh specializes in labour, employment and administrative law. He has extensive experience in matters of workplace harassment, having provided his services as an independent advisor to the Edmonton Police Service.

Chankasingh is in phase one of the investigation, which involves reviewing allegations of workplace misconduct in the municipal enforcement division dating back to 2014.

Chankasingh is also commencing phase two, which investigates the alleged inappropriate use and access of security cameras as part of the misconduct allegations, said senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett.

The investigator will travel to Yellowknife in June to conduct in-person interviews with individuals deemed “relevant” to the investigation and individuals who have contacted the city on matters related to those allegations, she said.

A formal complaint made by Shayne Pierson in 2014 alleges physical and sexual harassment by Gillard.

At the time, former-SAO Dennis Kefalas and director of public safety Dennis Marchiori directly oversaw Gillard in his managerial role.

Both Kefalas and Marchiori resigned in the weeks leading up to the official inquiry.

Throughout the investigation, MED manager Gillard has remained in his post as MED manager.