The mayor and members of Moose Jaw city council are speaking out after a recent investigation led to disciplinary sanctions against three councillors.
Mayor Fraser Tolmie said he was made aware of a serious personnel matter within the Downtown Facilities and Fieldhouse (DFFH) board on July 5.
Tolmie told 980 CJME he brought it to council’s attention, where three members — those involved with the board — had to recuse themselves.
That left three councillors, including the mayor, to move forward on a third-party investigation into the allegations.
“That revealed some governance issues, so there’s been a couple of findings in our report in regards to governance, breach of confidentiality and a serious personnel issue,” Tolmie said.
The investigation found Councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese failed to address the personnel issue, thereby violating the code of ethics bylaw.
On Monday, Tolmie, along with Dawn Luhning and Chris Warren, voted unanimously to impose disciplinary sanctions on their colleagues.
“It was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right decision,” Tolmie said, adding the sanctions have ripple effects on city administration.
“We have to fill in some of the areas here that are now void of council positions. These weren’t decisions made lightly.”
Public concern over privacy
Councillors Warren and Luhning acknowledged the decision to keep the matter confidential has led to concerns.
“I would ask the community to have some patience and just understand that some of the details that haven’t come out are to protect people’s rights,” Warren said, adding others have reached out in support.
“People recognize that, again, these are tough decisions and we didn’t shy away.”
Deputy Mayor Luhning also responded to public criticism, noting she doesn’t read the speculation online.
“We have every right to do that in the case that we’ve been dealing with … the continual comments that we’re being secretive is just off-base,” she said.
“People tend to forget there are individuals involved in that facility, and individuals on the board, that we had to protect what was going on.”
Disciplined councillor speaks
One of the councillors who received disciplinary sanctions spoke with 980 CJME Tuesday.
“I participated 110 per cent with the investigation process. I provided timelines and all I possibly could to bring this to the quickest resolution,” Crystal Froese said.
“Hindsight is 20/20 … so looking back and seeing my errors and my shortfalls, I completely take responsibility.”
Froese said her concern has always been with the health and well-being of the staff at both organizations, adding it was a “huge relief” having council move ahead on an investigation.
“I’m an honest and truthful person, doesn’t mean I’m a perfect person,” she said.
“It was a very complicated and complex personnel issue, and I’m happy that it came to the resolution.”
Until August 31, 2019, Froese will not be allowed to hold the position of deputy mayor, chair or vice-chair of any standing committees or advisory committees. The councillor noted the disciplinary sanction is fair, and doesn’t affect her ability to represent constituents.
“The sanction I received is a reminder of my shortfall in the actual process at the board level.”
980 CJME also reached out to the other two councillors who violated the code of ethics. McMann declined to comment and Swanson has yet to respond.