The following is a report prepared by Mark G. McDonald, Integrity Commissioner for
the Municipality of Central Elgin on the Conduct of Mayor Sally Martyn. This seems
to be an ongoing issue for Central Elgin Councils which indicates that there might be a need
for more training for all members of Council and Central Elgin staff on how to treat
people with respect and dignity. Readers you be the Judge!
Report Regarding The Conduct Of Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn Prepared by,
Mark G. McDonald
On July 5, 2019 the Integrity Commissioner received a duly authorized Affidavit
from a Central Elgin Resident (complainant) alleging that Mayor Sally Martyn contravened
Council's Code of Conduct (The Code) by making disparaging comments about the complainant
during a ‘road trip' attended by Council and a number of staff on May 3, 2019. The
complainant further alleges that the comments were relayed by parties in attendance
with direct knowledge of the offending statements.
It is important to note that a number of other allegations were presented that go
beyond the scope and jurisdiction of the Integrity Commissioner such as a procedural
matter and other issues that fall within the purview and authority of Council in
its decision making capacity. These matters are not the subject of this inquiry
for obvious reasons.
Prior to the issuance of the affidavit, the Integrity Commissioner met face—to-face with
the complainant to review the allegations and to determine if there was merit in
going forward. This is called the ‘intake' stage of an inquiry. The Integrity Commissioner
suggested that, in the circumstances, the complainant first try to resolve the matter
informally by contacting the Mayor directly with the intention of describing the
offending language and providing the Mayor with an opportunity to respond to the
allegations. This was done by email, the Mayor responded and the complainant was
not satisfied with the response as the complainant was seeking an apology for specific
statements allegedly made by the Mayor. The Mayor denied making these alleged remarks
and therefore did not apologize for them. This lead to the filing of the affidavit
The Mayor was then given a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond to
the various allegations contained within the affidavit. The Mayor's response was
then shared with the complainant who, in turn, provided feedback to the Integrity
Commissioner. The Integrity Commissioner then met with the Mayor face—to-face and
provided the Mayor with preliminary findings and an opportunity to respond to these
Principals of the Code of Conduct:
One of the primary purposes and intent of ‘The Code of Conduct' is to encourage
and ensure interpersonal conduct, communications and interactions are consistent
with legal requirements and that elected representatives are accountable for the
interpersonal conduct standard of the Code of Conduct.
Through the affidavit, the complainant alleges that the Mayor was overheard making
specific disparaging remarks about the complainant. The Mayor, in response, admits
to making specific other statements about the complainant that she acknowledges
as offensive to the complainant and is willing to apologize publicly for this breach
of The Code. The complainant, upon learning of this offer, chose not to accept it.
The Mayor, by her own admission, is willing to apologize for statements that in
her words were "not pertinent and may well have offended" the [complainant]. The
complainant, on the other hand, believes the suggested apology is for a "sanitized
version of her comments".
The Integrity Commissioner is of the view that the Principles of the Code of Conduct
shall prevail. In other words, elected officials must be held accountable for their
behaviour and adhere to interpersonal conduct standards in The Code. Specifically,
Section 5.3 states in part that Members....." focus on issues rather than personalities"
while Section 8.1 dictates a "duty to treat members of the public with respect and
dignity". The rule in Section 11.3 states that "Members shall refrain from making
disparaging remarks about other members, members of the public, ‘etc.'.
Clearly, the Mayor has breached these sections of The Code and she is willing to
apologize for it. Thus, the accountability principle is enforced.
While there is a difference of opinion as to the exact wording of the offensive
language, there is an acknowledgement by the Mayor of the use of language that is
offensive. Determining, through a prolonged investigation of more than a dozen potential
witnesses, whether one version of the language used was more accurate than another
would lead to the same conclusion and findings. That is, a breach or breaches occurred
and accountability should be the outcome.
For these reasons, I see no value in conducting a more fulsome investigation only
to reach the same findings.
Council's Code of Conduct has been violated in specific sections mentioned above.
The Mayor has acknowledged this and will be making a formal apology at the time when
this report is under consideration. Her apology satisfies the principle of accountability
under The Code. When determining recommendations on Code infractions to Council,
the Integrity Commissioner gives weight to first-time infractions and the willingness
of elected representatives to admit fault and to take responsibility for it.