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RE: Workplace Investigation Report - Clarification of Comments made within Mayor Bradley's

By City Staff

Date: October 7, 2016                          
Release Date: Immediate
From:  Andre Morin, Acting City Manager
Subject: RE: Workplace Investigation Report – Clarification of Comments made within Mayor Bradley’s “Letter to the People of Sarnia”

I am Acting City Manager in respect of the complaints made against the Mayor.  As such I have reviewed the Mayor’s “Letter to the People of Sarnia” issued today.

It is not my intention to get into a debate with the Mayor.  As a civil servant, that is not my place and it would not be helpful.  However, it is important that I clarify some points – my silence on other points in no way should be taken as agreement.  As resolved by Council, “Mayor Bradley’s behaviour was a serious multi-faceted violation of the Harassment Policy and is not supported by the City or in keeping with its values.”  I regret that the Mayor’s letter appears to confirm the veracity and importance of Council’s resolution.

First, the Mayor claims “the issues and allegations in both reports are the same.  I disagree.  Read the reports.  Mr. Swayze was concerned with the Code of Conduct – that is his expertise as Integrity Commissioner.  Mr. Swayze expressly deferred to Ms. Bernardi in respect of issues of workplace harassment arising under the City’s policy and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  If you review the CV’s of Ms. Bernardi and our external legal counsel, James Knight, it is plain that they are experts in that area of the law.  It is also plain that workplace harassment is of great significance in Ontario’s workplaces, which are legally required to be civil and respectful.

Second, the Mayor claims that he was denied the opportunity to resolve the issues.  I disagree.  Read Ms. Bernardi’s report.  This allegation is dealt with at pages 38 and 39.  Indeed, it is notable that the Mayor chose to send his “Letter to the People of Sarnia” rather than addressing these views to Council at either meeting on September 28 or October 6, 2016 – neither in person, nor through his legal counsel, nor in writing.

Third, the Mayor claims that he is entitled to have legal fees paid for by the City under the Indemnification By-Law.  His request was reviewed by external legal counsel months ago and the Mayor was advised that there was no basis for his claim and it was denied.

Fourth, the Mayor seems to challenge the integrity and fairness of Ms. Bernardi’s investigation.  He has never once made such an allegation until today even though the investigation has been ongoing for months.  He has had Ms. Bernardi’s report for two weeks.  Indeed, I understand that, through his legal counsel, he has communicated the opposite.  As set out by Ms. Bernardi in her report at page 2, “the Mayor and his legal counsel commented during the investigation that they appreciated the manner in which the investigation was conducted.”

The Mayor ends his letter by reiterating earlier comments he made when he attacked the report of the Integrity Commissioner.  The Mayor again says, “it is time to move on” and “we must be willing to set aside our competing interests”.  I agree.  Unfortunately, I respectfully suggest that the Mayor’s letter does exactly the opposite, especially when he renews damaging and hurtful attacks on pages 2 and 3 of his letter.  I remind you of Ms. Bernardi’s conclusion at page 43 of her Report:

[Mayor Bradley] harassed and bullied all four complainants. In fact, Mayor Bradley engaged in almost all of the different forms of harassment listed above, including verbal abuse, psychological abuse, supervisory abuse, relational aggression and character assassination.

***

This was not a matter of the complainants being unable to stand the ordinary pressures of their jobs. This was not a question of a strong leadership style, and this was more than the Mayor not understanding the boundaries of his role. I find that Mayor Bradley deliberately bullied and harassed the complainants, repeatedly and throughout their employment.

***

I find that the harassment and bullying was ongoing, very serious, and severely impacted the complainants both personally and professionally.  

Mayor Bradley raises as an issue the costs of these Asp.  The costs are significant and they are ongoing.  Three of the complainants – valuable and effective senior staff - have left employment because of Mayor Bradley’s actions and have issued demands that may yet translate into serious legal actions against the City.  Staff morale is low and the City’s morale has been harmed.

In terms of responsibility for the costs, read the Reports.  As Acting Manager, I and my staff have done the work we are legally required to do and that Council has directed us to do.  In the face of ongoing and very serious harassment and bullying by Mayor Bradley, we are trying to create a safe and healthy work environment for the City Manager and for all staff.  The best way to end the cost to the City is to stop the bullying and harassment.  The best way to have avoided the costs in the first place was for Mayor Bradley to have conducted himself in accordance with the law and City policy.  Read Ms. Bernardi’s report to understand why the City is facing these kinds of costs:

Mayor Bradley … has engaged in a course of vexatious comments and conduct which created a poisoned work environment for the complainants. In other words, he harassed and bullied all four complainants. In fact, Mayor Bradley engaged in almost all of the different forms of harassment listed above, including verbal abuse, psychological abuse, supervisory abuse, relational aggression and character assassination.

This article was posted Friday, October 7, 2016 4:05 PM

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