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December 3, 2021 December 3, 2021

Punishment doesn’t fit the actions with town councillor found in breach of code of conduct

Posted on November 18, 2021 by Taber Times

If we show up to our workplaces appearing inebriated, we’re sure it wouldn’t take us long to be in serious trouble. However, for a member of the public body in the Town of Taber — it seems a slap on the wrist is all that’s required.

Coun. Jack Brewin was noticeably slurring words and appeared intoxicated during the swearing in and regular council meeting on Oct. 25, and concerns have been raised over his demeanour throughout the meeting.

At the Town of Taber’s special meeting on Nov. 15, Coun. Brewin was found in breach of the Town of Taber’s Code of Conduct. A motion was carried to sanction Coun. Brewin and requested a written public apology to the mayor, council, administration, and the people of Taber by Nov. 22, 2021 regarding the events of the Oct. 25, 2021 meeting of council.

We understand it was the only offence that has been caught, and we understand that council may not have wanted the punishment to be too harsh. However, we believe there should have been more consequences — and while we hope there won’t be a next time, if there is, we hope council recognizes the repeating of offences.

In November 2019, three M.D. of Taber councillors were found in breach of the Code of Conduct and were censured. Coun. Tamara Miyanaga was sanctioned for Council Code of Conduct Bylaw contraventions by requiring a letter of apology to the complainant, a letter of apology to council, removal from council appointed committees until March 1, 2020, and associated committee remuneration be reduced until March 1, 2020, Coun. John Turcato was sanctioned for Council Code of Conduct Bylaw contraventions by requiring a letter of apology to the complainant, a letter of apology to council, removal from council appointed committees until the M.D. of Taber 2020 Organizational meeting, and associated committee remuneration be reduced until the 2020 Organizational meeting, and Coun. Brian Brewin was sanctioned for Council Code of Conduct Bylaw contraventions by requiring a letter of apology to the complainant, a letter of apology to council, removal from council appointed committees until the M.D. of Taber 2020 Organizational meeting, and associated committee remuneration be reduced until the 2020 Organizational meeting.

Now, these punishments were much more harsh than what Coun. Brewin has received, and we feel more should have been done in this instance, too. A removal from committees and associated committee remuneration should have also been applied here. Why should a councillor who makes big decisions for the town be held to a lesser account than regular residents?

This also begs a question — Is swearing in while intoxicated even legally binding? In the Government of Alberta’s Information and Instructions for Commissions or Oaths, it states “You may only administer the oath, affirmation or solemn declaration if you are satisfied that the person has in fact understood what was read.”

Mayor Prokop said in an interview with the Times that “The bottom line would be that the lawyer Mr. Mark Baldry is the one taking care of the swearing in portion and as long as that gentleman is satisfied and signs off on it, it is binding accordingly.”

It is also very important to remember that within Section 17.2 and 17.3 of Bylaw No. 1 — 2018 for the Town of Taber. It states that: “Any individual who identifies or witnesses a behaviour or activity by a Councillor that they reasonably believe, in good faith, is in contravention of this Code of Conduct may file a formal complaint. All complaints shall be made in writing, using, the form attached as Schedule ‘A’ to this Bylaw and shall be dated and signed by an identifiable individual.”

Then, in 17.7, it states that, “Each formal complaint submitted shall be placed as an in-camera item at the next available Council Meeting.”

The Times has also been receiving phone calls from a number of concerned citizens since the meeting and they have a right to be upset over the issue.

They pay taxes and ultimately pay councillor salaries, and when one shows up in that state, they should be upset. It’s a bad look for the Town of Taber and residents should be making calls to their local elected officials.

Always remember to hold your elected officials accountable and to the highest standard. They represent us on a global scale and should be under a microscope.

Breaches such as the one at the Oct. 25 council meeting should not be tolerated by these officials — so if you notice anything, make sure to file a complaint. It is your right.

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