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Disgraced Councillor docked 45 days’ pay

Sarnia City Council met virtually again this month.

Coun. Bill Dennis was unapologetic as council voted 6-2 in favour of suspending his pay for 45 days for what the Integrity Commissioner called deeply disrespectful behaviour at the March 11 meeting.

In fact, Dennis came out swinging with more insults and put-downs toward his fellow councillors, reiterating many of the things that got him into trouble March 11.

“I’m not afraid of these complaints,” he said. “I see them for what they are and I believe everyone else does too…I refuse to look the other way when it comes to council and staff performance.

“I am outspoken and I do speak my mind. I do sometimes cuss and I call it like it is, but am I dangerous? Get real.”

When it came time to vote on Dennis’ discipline as recommended by the Integrity Commissioner, Dennis declared a conflict of interest. Coun. George Vandenberg and Coun. Terry Burrell voted against any sanction.

Before the vote, Coun. Chrissy McRoberts explained why she didn’t accept Dennis’ defence that he acts with passion.

“Coun. Dennis on several occasions has had an amazing point to make when he has spoken and then loses it when he takes things emotionally and personally and has the outbursts,” she said.  “…Don’t confuse passion with trying to put other people down, or the name calling, the swearing. If you could just stay on subject and on point, you would have a lot more pull and a lot more alignment and agreements with some of the motions you make. I don’t see an end to this. I’d like you to just stop the extra…and I would have a lot more respect. 

“But please do not call it passion when you are calling the rest of council ‘clowns’ or when you are putting Sarnia down and referring to it as a ‘s _ _ thole in public. That’s unacceptable,” said McRoberts.

“That is not passion. That is something else and I just don’t want it in council anymore,” she said.

Council also addressed a second recommendation from the Integrity Commissioner and voted 6-3 against having staff draft a social media policy that would set standards for elected officials’ behaviours online.

Mayor Bradley said he voted against such a policy because he doesn’t believe social media standards can be defined. Those who voted in favour of a policy were Coun. Gillis, Coun. Kilner and Coun. Boushy.

You can view the full report from Integrity Commissioner Benjamin Drory here.

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