Letter: A clarification of a councillor’s heartfelt apology letter

A lack of clarity has caused more confusion and unnecessary attention

To the Expositor:

The following is in response to the March 4 letter to the editor by Central Manitoulin Councillor Dale Scott, ‘The damages of Councillors working outside the chain of command.’

I, as well as many others, have read the heartfelt apology from Dale Scott that was addressed to myself, George Strain, and we all seem to have the same questions: Just what was the letter for, what was it addressing and why did it come to be? 

In my opinion, the letter dances around the issue without ever actually accepting any responsibility or acknowledging the wrong that was done. Neither was the actual reason for the letter ever addressed. 

The letter by Mr. Scott was originally addressed in council at my request. Since Mr. Scott is an elected official of the municipality and took local gossip and coffee talk as a trusted account of events, it was important his error be addressed. Mr. Scott was given two options by myself: Either write a public apology or a grievance would have to be addressed by the Integrity Commissioner. The apology was to have two items within it: The affected employee’s name and what the apology was specifically addressing. 

In response to Mr. Scott’s letter, I feel nothing needed to be de-escalated by a municipal councillor. The issue between a local business owner and paying customer (and not a municipal employee) did not need to be turned into an inflammatory issue for public concern. I questioned Mr. Scott about the informers and his source of interpretation of the events in question. He declined my requests. I repeatedly heard second-hand stories that Mr. Scott was actively investigating the event. It seems that he wants to bring the story to the public. Mr. Scott repeatedly misrepresented the issue using the guise of de-escalating the situation as a municipal councillor. 

Without going into details or using names, the incident in question had nothing to do with my position as an employee of the municipality. The incident in question occurred on my own time and was my own personal business. I was not even aware that I had upset the employee of the business in question and personally spoke to her and offered an apology.

Mr. Scott assumed it happened in my professional role so pursued the investigation against me. He approached the business owner and asked if they wanted to fill out a formal complaint against me as a municipal employee, but the owner declined. When I later spoke to the business owner, he indicated it felt like a “witch hunt” to him. I later found out that Mr. Scott was questioning my fellow employees regarding my duties and confronted me in the municipal parking lot about my future employment plans.

The apology letter was requested by myself and agreed upon by the mayor and the clerk after a meeting with the mayor, Mr. Scott and me. The letter was to be presented at council as an acknowledgement of a wrongdoing that had taken place. Mr. Scott used his position as a councillor and involved himself in something that did not concern him or the municipality. This behaviour should not be tolerated in any workplace and should serve as an example, especially in a government atmosphere. An employee should not fear any repercussions when bringing forward these types of concerns.

I feel that Mr. Scott was unclear in what his apology was addressing and, in the end, caused more confusion and drew unnecessary attention to a non-municipal issue.

Thank you,

George Strain

Providence Bay