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Dennis found in breach of Code of Conduct again: Integrity Commissioner bills mounting

Bill Dennis upended another council meeting earlien this year with personal verbal attacks directed at the mayor and other council members.

As council sits down today to review the latest Integrity Commissioner report about Coun. Bill Dennis’ behaviour March 11, it won’t be known until October what this round of investigations cost taxpayers.

However, Integrity Commissioner Benjamin Drory’s most recent bill for the six month period from Oct. 2023 to March 2024 totalled $18,469.

For that, Drory received five Code of Conduct complaints, only two of which were investigated. He judged the other three to either not warrant investigation or were received incomplete.

One investigation led to sanctions against Coun. Dennis who was docked two-day’s pay as a result of his behaviour outside council chambers in October.

In submitting his invoice in March, Drory wrote that his office received a fifth complaint that was forwarded to him as a resolution of city council on March 18 after Coun. Dennis repeatedly interrupted council business and disrespected both the mayor and other council members at the March 11 regular council meeting. 

That meeting, like one in October, was adjourned prematurely when Coun. Dennis contravened the Code of Conduct.

City council is scheduled today to receive the Integrity Commissioner’s 60-page report on the March 11 incident and to decide what to do with it.

Drory’s report says he found that Coun. Dennis blatantly disrespected fellow members of council and broke the Code.

“I find that Coun. Dennis failed to follow the Chair’s direction more than once, and that he spoke in accusatory and condescending tones towards other council members,” Drory wrote.

“…Frankly the analysis of this issue is straightforward,” the report continues. “Coun. Dennis spoke disrespectfully about other members of council in referring to them as ‘clowns.’”

Drory also found that Coun. Dennis was not using “political speech” and seeking to promote any kind of policy or outcome. Rather, Drory wrote, “It was simply rude, disrespectful, and uncontrolled conduct, outside of that expected of members of council.”

He recommends that Coun. Dennis receives a 45-day pay suspension this time. 

“Coun. Dennis’ breaches of decorum on March 11 2024 were significant and they were not the first time that Coun. Dennis has been observed exhibiting similar behaviour,” Drory’s report says.

Several comments by Coun. Dennis on social media were also concerning, said the Integrity Commission.

But the city has no social media policy for members of council, Drory noted. “Without one, the expectations upon elected and appointed officials are only weakly clear or enforceable.”

Drory, a lawyer with ADR Chambers Inc. law firm in North York, was hired as Sarnia’s Integrity Commissioner in April 2023. He is not on retainer but is paid $300 an hour to provide advice on matters governing council’s ethical behaviour and compliance with the City’s Code of Conduct. He also assesses and investigates complaints about alleged breaches of the Code or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

Drory has indicated that his invoice for Coun. Dennis’ March 11 breach will not be available to the public until fall.

The Integrity Commissioner’s full report is part of today’s council agenda and can be viewed at The meeting begins at 1 p.m. on Zoom.

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