No public apology for councillors named in workplace harassment allegations
Councillors were named in harassment case during fire optimization debate last year
Sudbury city council voted down a motion to issue a public apology for naming two councillors in a recent workplace harassment case.
The allegations, investigated by the Ministry of Labour in February 2018, named councillors Gerry Montpellier and Michael Vagnini.
The allegations were made in 2017 by the Sudbury Professional Firefighters Association, claiming then fire chief Trevor Bain was being harassed.
Vagnini submitted a motion to city council Tuesday night, asking for his fellow councillors to "exonerate" the accused councillors.
But council did not agree, voting it down by a margin of 8-4.
"This was a matter of workplace harassment of an employee," Mayor Brian Bigger said. "And there is no diplomatic immunity of any person that can freely harass an employee."
Brief standoff between Tom Price and <a href="https://twitter.com/BiggerSudbury?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BiggerSudbury</a> (off screen) on a point of order. Meeting called to recess. Price remains in chambers. <a href="https://t.co/uXOHcGKSMp">pic.twitter.com/uXOHcGKSMp</a>—@StrangeSea
Kevin Fowke, the city's general manager of corporate services, said he wasn't interested in debating councillors.
"Does our workplace violence harassment policy under the Ontario Health and Safety Act apply to city councillors, or apply to a visitor in the building?" Fowke said. "The answer to that, four square, is yes."
The heated discussion in council chambers visibly angered Vagnini, whose voice carried well over his powered-off microphone. After his motion was defeated, Vagnini left chambers.
Citizen Tom Price was also named in the investigation as one of the people allegedly harassing the fire chief.
During the proceedings Tuesday night, Price stood up during the debate, citing a point of order, which prompted Mayor Bigger to call a recess to restore order before council eventually voted to defeat the motion.