Deputy mayor quits to ensure vote on ‘personnel matter’

by Mike Bryant - August 30, 2018

Yellowknife city councillor Adrian Bell says he quit as deputy mayor Thursday morning to ensure his voice would be added to what he called “an expression of council’s position” during a closed door meeting where a “personnel matter” was being discussed. 

Adrian Bell: stepped down as deputy mayor today so he could vote on a “personnel matter” during an in-camera meeting.

Bell wouldn’t name the city employee up for discussion but did say it was related to the now closed official inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct within the city’s municipal enforcement division.

The city ordered the inquiry after accusations from several former bylaw officers came to light earlier this year alleging that municipal enforcement manager Doug Gillard had acted inappropriately on the job. Those allegations included hitting subordinate officers in the groin, making lewd and sexually suggestive comments about female staff at city hall, and perhaps most troubling, using city security cameras to ogle attractive women.

Gillard has remained on the job throughout, and to date has yet to comment on the allegations.

On Tuesday, the city released a statement from Vancouver law firm Miller Thomson LLP, the company hired by the city in March to conduct the official inquiry, which concluded workplace misconduct related to use of the security cameras had “more likely than not” occurred.

Bell wouldn’t say whether he believes that statement gives the city the green light to fire Gillard but did agree the “more likely than not” term most commonly refers to the burden of proof required to win a case in civil court.

“That’s my interpretation of what that means,” Bell said when reached this evening for comment.

Elaborating on his decision to step down as deputy mayor, a position he has held for almost three years, Bell said he feared he would be rendered mute if he walked into the lunchtime in-camera meeting Thursday holding the position. That’s because under current council rules the mayor may switch seats with the deputy mayor so he can vote and discuss issues before council. The mayor, as chair of the meeting, is typically not allowed to debate matters before council and may only vote should there be a tie.

“I didn’t want to go into that meeting and risk losing my vote,” said Bell, adding he feared the in-camera vote would be close.

When asked why he thought Mayor Mark Heyck would’ve voted differently than him, Bell said: “I can’t answer that question without discussing confidential in-camera matters.”

Bell, who is seeking to be elected mayor in the Oct. 15 municipal election, also wouldn’t say how voting on the personnel matter at Thursday’s meeting went but did say he was “very glad” he had stepped down as deputy mayor so he could vote.

On his Facebook page, Bell noted that changes coming to the Council Procedures bylaw will allow future mayors to weigh in on debates and vote.