Gillard inquiry could be a boondoggle

by Editorial Board - April 3, 2018

The inquiry into allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Yellowknife’s manager of municipal enforcement, Doug Gillard, is threatening to descend into a boondoggle. Gillard was allegedly behaving scandalously for well over a decade, say 11 former officers who worked at MED between the early 2000s and 2014.

The city launched an inquiry into allegations of his workplace misconduct in January after a Yellowknifer investigation revealed he had been accused of a litany of offences. The city has hired national law firm Miller Thompson LLP to oversee the inquiry.

Last week it was revealed the inquiry might be severely limited in its scope. The terms of reference suggest the only thing that may be investigated are the allegations by a single complainant, former constable Shayne Pierson, and how they were handled in 2014. In fact, over the four pages of the terms the year is mentioned 11 times.

Not a word is shed on the most serious allegation, that Gillard used closed circuit cameras to spy on women at city facilities. Two former officers made sworn statements to a lawyer handling a wrongful dismissal claim by former corporal Doug Norrad, claimed to have knowledge of that.

Other allegations — some found in Pierson’s complaint, some coming from other former officers — include making highly inappropriate sexual comments about female city employees, rubbing spit on officers’ sunglasses and hitting them in the groin, pressuring a former officer to drink alcohol and then threatening to share inappropriate videos of him while he was highly intoxicated, and making homophobic remarks about officers and members of the public.

Complaints weren’t just directed at Gillard, however. Several former officers described an institutional problem that included Gillard but also people above and below him in the chain of command. One former female officer, Dana Jones, who worked at the Municipal Enforcement Division from 2002 to 2006, said she twice took complaint to upper management but was twice brushed aside.

City councillor Adrian Bell, who has been the most vocal about proceeding with an inquiry, insisted other accusations – in particular, the allegations about the cameras – will be included. But it’s troubling he would have to force the issue.

If this inquiry is about assuring the public, leaving the cameras out of its terms of reference and other alleged misdeeds going back years, was a serious blunder.

Producing a conclusion that sidesteps all of that would be even worse.

Coun. Shauna Morgan has a point. Considering how none of the allegations are recent, the value of an inquiry at this stage is questionable.

The fact remains, some terrible, but long buried accusations have finally burbled to the surface. There is a horrible stink but it’s hard to see what digging deeper into it will do.

If this inquiry reveals nothing the public hasn’t learned already, and corrects nothing that hasn’t already been corrected, it will be one big expensive waste of time that serves nobody but the lawyers charging city taxpayers for billable hours.

In light of the explosive charges, none of them denied by Gillard nor anyone else, council obviously felt the need to act.

But this inquiry is a field of landmines. Be careful where you step.