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Inequitable sanctions against Gautreau, then appointed chair of MPC

Last October, we filed a code of conduct complaint against Councillor Gautreau. Council finally dealt with it at its January 14th meeting. Councillor Gautreau was found to have violated the code of conduct with respect to both issues raised in the complaint. His punishment/sanction will be to issue a public apology at the next council meeting.

Interestingly, one of the complaints was for his participation in sharing the county lawyer’s response with an independent lawyer that he had hired along with Councillors Wright, Hanson and Kissel. This was the “offence” for which the other three were sanctioned last June. The three councillors’ punishment for this was to be removed from all council committees and to have their pay cut by 30%.

The second complaint against Gautreau was for discourteous language he used in Facebook posts in which he accused residents of lying and made other comments that some saw as threatening and intimidating. Given the complete disparity in his sanctions relative to those imposed on Hanson, Kissel and Wright, the only conclusion appears to be that the council majority believes that attacking specific residents are far less serious than making generic opinion statements in letters to the editor. Gautreau only had to apologize while the other three were prohibited from communicating with any county staff except during council meetings.

Unlike Gautreau, they were not given the option of apologizing before harsher sanctions were imposed. It is hard not to see this as different rules for different people. We would have thought that procedural fairness required the same penalties for the same transgressions – unfortunately that does not appear to be true in Rocky View.

Shortly after imposing the “sanction” on Councillor Gautreau, the majority on council elected him as Chair of the newly created Municipal Planning Commission – the body that is taking over all subdivision decisions from Council and many development permit decisions from Administration. At the same time, Council made it clear that, under their sanctions, Councillors Wright, Hanson and Kissel will be excluded from the MPC. The differential treatment continues.

The MGA clearly states that sanctions cannot interfere with a councillor’s ability to do his/her job. We would have thought that participation in planning decisions is a core part of a councillor’s responsibilities. In fact, prior to the establishment of the MPC, all subdivision decisions and many planning decisions for properties covered by Direct Control bylaws have been made at Council meetings.

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