Wilmot Township council suspends pay for mayor after second code of conduct violation
KITCHENER -- Wilmot Township councillors have decided Mayor Les Armstrong will receive a pay suspension following a second code of conduct violation.
The decision to suspend his pay for one day was made after a lengthy discussion at a Monday night meeting.
While his first violation was in regards to a controversial social media post, the second one was about his comments made toward a local newspaper about council's vote to remove statues from their Prime Minister's Path.
In the article, Armstrong stated the decision to remove the statues from Castle Kilbride was dictated by 'outsiders' and that the majority of Wilmot residents wanted to keep them.
The township's integrity commissioner stepped in after complaints were made about the mayor showing a lack of respect for the decision-making process and misrepresented the motives of the councillors who voted for the statues' removal.
"I want to be clear: the code of conduct is not saying you as members of council cannot have viewpoints or strong views," integrity commissioner Robert Williams said during the Monday night meeting. "It says once council has made a decision, council is expected to honour that decision."
The commissioner found that Mayor Armstrong is free to criticize the move while in council chambers, but an elected official cannot publicly disparage the decision or question the motives of councillors.
"People are worried the code of conduct doesn't allow us to go outside our council meeting and disagree or speak our mind, but I think it does," said Coun. Jeff Gerber. "There are ways to do it, so I'm left with the unfortunate conclusion that, if not the letter of the code of conduct, then the spirit of the code of conduct was indeed violated by Mayor Armstrongs' comments as they were."
The commissioner recommended a 30-day suspension of pay, but council decided on a one-day suspension.
Many on council voiced a need to move on from the incident during the Monday night meeting.