Councillor’s behaviour breaches code of conduct protocol (letter)
London Community News
Editor’s Note: This is a copy of a letter sent to London Mayor Joe Fontana and members or London City Council.
It is distressing to witness the ongoing verbal abuse and harassment that has become commonplace between council members. It is even more so when a council member does this to staff members. Council members are expected to be community leaders. In their role as employers, they carry power over city employees.
Calling well-respected and hardworking employees “vindictive” undermines their authority within the organization and the community. It is a clear breach of the City of London’s Code of Conduct for Members of Municipal Council and a breach which needs to be taken seriously. It is this type of behaviour that contributes to a hostile and poisoned workplace, something the Corporation of the City of London has been trying to change for the past several years.
As you may be aware, it was reported in numerous media and blogs that at the Sept. 24 Planning and Environment Committee meeting, Councillor Henderson stated, “Too often, city hall staff are basing their decisions on who you are. It’s vindictive because there’s history.”
In attacking and abusing two well-respected members of the senior management team, rather than receiving their professional opinions, Councillor Henderson abused his position of power. He has contributed to a poisoned work environment leaving respected and experienced professionals in a position where they may start second guessing their expertise for fear of being chastised.
Councillor Henderson and all those council members present who failed to hold him accountable for his behaviour owe both the Directors of Planning and Engineering as well as all city employees an apology.
Further, I would strongly recommend Councillor Henderson enroll in a refresher course of the City of London’s training for all staff, “I Step Forward to End Violence and Abuse in My Community, Workplace and at Home,” to allow him to fully understand the implications of his behaviour to the individual he attacked, as well as to the organization and the community.
I am attaching below the sections of the Code of Conduct for Members of Municipal Council relevant to Councillor Henderson’s behaviour.
5(30) Code of Conduct for Members of Municipal Council:
That the Code of Conduct for Members of Municipal Council be established; it being pointed out that this code is designed to establish guidelines for ethical and interpersonal standards of conduct for Members of Municipal Council in the performance of City business and that duties of elected office and to provide a process for resolving complaints about inappropriate conduct that might arise.
Purpose: The purpose and intent of this Policy is to establish guidelines for ethical and interpersonal standards of conduct for Members of Council.
B. CONDUCT TO BE OBSERVED
1. Foster Respect for Decision-making Process
All Members of Council shall accurately and adequately communicate the attitudes and decisions of the Council, even if they disagree with Council’s decision, such that respect for the decision-making processes of Council is fostered.
C. INTERPERSONAL BEHAVIOUR OF MEMBERS OF COUNCIL
1. Treat Every Person with Dignity, Understanding and Respect
Members of Council shall abide by the provisions of the Human Rights Code and, in doing so, shall treat every person including other Members of Council, corporate employees, individuals providing services on a contract for service, students on placements, and the public, with dignity, understanding and respect for the right to equality and the right to an environment that is safe and free from harassment and discrimination.
3. Not to Engage in Harassment
In accordance with the Human Rights Code, harassment shall mean engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.
(d) Make written or verbal abuse or threats;
(h) Make unwelcome remarks insulting gestures or jokes which cause embarrassment or awkwardness;
D. ALLEGATIONS OF PROHIBITED ACTIVITY
Organizations or individuals (including the public, Members of Council, and corporate employees) who have:
• Identified or witnessed any prohibited activity by a Member of Council under this policy;
• Witnessed or been subject to discriminatory treatment by a Member of Council under this policy; or
• Witnessed or been subject to harassment by a Member of Council under this policy may address the prohibited behaviour or activity as set out below.
2. Other Complaints made by Any Person (Allegations of Activity Other Than in 1. above)
Any complainant may take the following steps, if applicable, to address prohibited activity by a Member of Council:
3. (a) A complainant may advise the Member of Council verbally or in writing that the activity contravenes this by-law.
(b) A complainant may encourage the Member of Council to stop the prohibited activity.
Thank you for addressing this very serious issue.
Megan Walker, executive director, London Abused Women's Centre