Prince Albert City Council has slapped Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha with sanctions after he made what were described as “inappropriate, disrespectful and derogatory” comments on social media during a Prince Albert Raiders game.
The comments were provided to paNOW on the condition they not be republished.
Council voted 6-1 to impose penalties, with only Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp opposed. Botha and Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick were out of the room during the vote due to a conflict of interest.
Botha will soon be removed from all boards, committees, and official bodies, and will lose his right to speak as a representative of council at public events for one year. He will also have to make a public apology for his comments to the Prince Albert Raiders Hockey Club, City Council and the public on social media for three weeks in a form and wording approved by council.
Both Botha and Ogrodnick declined to comment after the meeting.
The move comes after Botha's potential violation of the Code of Ethics Bylaw was reported to the executive committee April 9. The complaint alleged Botha violated Sections 9 and 10 of the ethics bylaw, which outline the standards and values expected of council members when dealing with each other and employees at City Hall. Sections 9 and 10 say council members “shall treat every person, including other members, municipal employees and the public, with dignity, understanding and respect,” and say councillors shall not “engage in discrimination, bullying or harassment in their roles as members.”
At the start of Monday's meeting, Botha made a move to adjourn the matter to the next available date, explaining how his lawyer wanted an opportunity to speak, either in-camera or in public. Botha also said he believed the information contained in the report was one-sided and said the sanctions amounted to “censorship of myself as a representative and speaker on behalf of members of my constituency” and the “punitive removal from the boards I have the privilege of sitting on.”
His request was narrowly defeated.
After the meeting, Mayor Greg Dionne said Botha’s ability to speak on behalf of his constituents will not be stifled by the sanctions. He said Botha will only be barred from speaking at events on behalf of the city.
“That means I will not appoint him to speak at [events like] the country music awards or to speak at the sportsman dinner,” Dionne said. “He can speak to his residents and things like that, but he will not represent the city on behalf of me for the next year. I am not gagging him; that is a privilege.”
Dionne also took aim at Botha’s attempt to delay the matter. The mayor said he was “shocked” Botha attempted to seek legal counsel and intervene at the last minute. Botha had nearly a month to do so, the mayor said, and he was told in advance what the punishments would be.
The mayor said it was "sad the event happened,” but noted some things said online are unacceptable and must be dealt with.
“I want us to get along, but we are nine individuals and sometimes that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “I don’t see this affecting us. I still believe he can be effective on council and that we can move things forward.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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