Skip to main content

Stratford councillor looks to suspend policy behind temporary bans from city hall


A city councilor is looking to suspend Stratford’s Respectful Workplace Policy, after a year of disruptions and controversy at city hall.

The new policy was implemented last year.

“It’s for workplaces, including council meetings, where everybody's respectful but still allowing for disagreement but just to everyone's respectful,” said Councillor Cody Sebben.

Back in February, Mike Sullivan and Barb Shaughnessy were temporarily banned from council meetings after they allegedly used “unreasonable, inappropriate and harassing” language towards council and staff that was “known, or ought reasonably to have been known as unwelcome.”

After the pair were banned, Sebben said it’s time to take another look at how the policy is being used.

“The important thing right now would be to just hit pause, step back and review the process that's taking place and give everyone an opportunity to … reflect and review and see how we can improve moving forward,” he said.

According to Sebben he has heard from residents that bans enforced by the city is keeping people away from city hall.

“People who have reached out, they're afraid to speak at a meeting, because they're afraid of receiving a letter from a lawyer that they just don't want to have to deal with,” Sebben said.

A group called Save Our Speech Stratford have formed to fight what they call the heavy handed use of this policy by the city.

“There's been a major attack on free speech and democratic principles at city hall.” Said Robert Roth, a spokesperson for the group.

Roth sid the group applauds Sebben’s motion to review the policy.

“It is not to be weaponized against ordinary citizens at a public forum, a public forum has special obligations to maximize free speech,” said Roth.

Sebben’s motion to suspend and review the policy is expected to be discussed at a council meeting on July 22. Top Stories

Stay Connected