OPINION: Decision in council’s hands

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Three months’ docked pay.

That’s the recommendation from the municipality’s Integrity Commissioner in penalty for the actions of North Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville.

Some will say that is incredibly harsh; while others will decry it as too mild.

Jubenville defends her comments as freedom of speech.

The reality is that nothing is set in stone just yet on the penalty for Jubenville’s posts on social media and her related behaviour.

Mary Ellen Bench, the Integrity Commissioner, in a 47-page report, said in both instances, the councillor is in violation of C-K council’s Code of Conduct.

Bench said she had received “many complaints” in regard to Jubenville’s actions between April and June of this year. She added that she discarded many of those complaints, but said there were grounds for penalty in several instances.

Those include what occurred in regard to her notice of motion to ban all special-interest flags from flying from municipal flagstaffs.

Bench also addressed comments made by Jubenville on social media in regard to the Pride flag flying underneath the Canadian flag at a local high school. It ultimately led to police cautioning a man after threats were made against the school about removing the flag.

In the report’s conclusion, Bench states that Jubenville breached the code by “engaging in behaviour that unduly used her influence as a public official and did so to be intimidating and use bully tactics to silence her critics.”

Council will vote on the matter Aug. 14. That meeting should prove to be very interesting indeed, not just in terms of what is on the agenda, but also who attends and how they may act.

Jubenville has supporters and haters. It appears there is little middle ground, at least judging on the social media comments made on our stories on the councillor’s efforts to date.

The councillor has surely seen the quick and en-masse response from her supporters in her online urgings. Bench believes the councillor is “aware of the power she wields through her use of social media.”

The problem is that encouraging people to take action can empower some individuals to go to extremes.

One Jubenville supporter warned Bench that the “real violence will be incited if this investigation results in her being disciplined or shut down by this finding.”

That is downright worrisome, for council, the municipality and the police.

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