Council split over mayor’s Code of Ethics complaint

While five councillors voted in favour of reprimanding Coun. Evert Botha, two of their colleagues had different perspectives

Herald file photo.

City council was split Monday whether to reprimand Coun. Evert Botha over a pair of code of conduct complaints he levelled against Mayor Greg Dionne.

While the majority of council voted in favour of the reprimand, two councillors spoke up against the decision.

Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller believed that while one of Botha’s complaints could be considered a breach of the Code of Ethics, the other was not.

“In one case, I don’t believe he was in breach,” she said during a brief debate on the topic.

“In the other, I do. It’s unfortunate we have to go through this, but we do. They make these rules (in Regina).”

Unlike her colleague, Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp disagreed with finding any fault in Botha’s actions.

“I’ve seen no evidence that convinces me that Coun. Botha breached his Code of Ethics,” Lennox-Zepp said.

“I want individuals to bring complaints of Code of Ethics items forward when they see something they believe to be a breach of ethical obligations or conflicts of interest. From the evidence I have seen, I believe Coun. Botha was acting in good faith and should not be found in breach or sanctioned.”

In a recorded vote, Couns. Blake Edwards, Dennis Ogrodnick, Dennis Nowoselsky, Don Cody and Ted Zurakowsky voted in favour of the reprimand. Lennox-Zepp and Miller both voted against. Dionne and Botha recused themselves from the discussion and the vote.

While Lennox-Zepp said there was no evidence Botha breached the Code of Ethics, the tribunal of councillors addressed that concern in their initial ruling, according to Dionne’s Code of Ethics complaint considered by council Monday.

The document said that the tribunal of councillors, which adjudicated the complaint, considered whether evidence Botha intended to breach the Code of Ethics was necessary.

The majority ruled that breaching the code need not be intentional, and that conduct through “reckless disregard, negligence or indifference” can be enough to violate the standard set out in the Code of Ethics.

The tribunal wrote it was satisfied that Botha pursued his complaints either with intent to harass the mayor “or at least with a recklessness and indifference to whether his allegations were supported by or refuted by evidence known or available to him.”

— with files from Jason Kerr.