RESPONSE - REPORT REGARDING THE CONDUCT OF COUNCILLOR DAN MCNEIL: Report
submitted by Mark McDonald, Integrity Commissioner
"It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right." Winston
1. The 'Report' submitted by Mr. McDonald is superficial. It lacks sufficient depth
and analysis to take any action as recommended.
2. The 'altercation' in question took place between Mr. Harding and me with no witnesses.
It lasted no more than 30 seconds. Mr. McDonald makes claims based on his telephone
call with me, without having offered me any opportunity to review his interpretation
of that discussion. Furthermore, Mr. McDonald makes pronouncements on my beliefs
without any foundation for those severe judgements: "What is concerning is Councillor
McNeil's total disregard for Council's Code of Conduct and his behaviour, tone and
substance of interpersonal interactions." The investigation he conducted was not
sufficient to warrant this blatant hyperbole.
3. Given the circumstances, Mr. Harding had every right to raise a complaint. I,
as the object of that complaint, had every right to a reasonable and objective investigation.
Mr. McDonald had a responsibility to conduct an investigation sufficient to support
his assertions and commensurate to sustain his harsh recommendations. He did not.
4. "Context" is very important. "Perspective" is also very important. The Integrity
Commissioner tabled a Report with no context and with a very limited perspective.
His analysis of the altercation is based on his limited appreciation of my own admissions
in a five-minute phone call.
5. Mr. Harding has had an open vendetta against Central Elgin since several important
"In Camera" decisions were made in December 2016. He took exception to those decisions
and has been derisive and critical in his demeanour towards Council and Staff since
then. On many occasions his behaviour in public towards me has been offensive. He
has continually attempted to get me to break my code of conduct obligations to reveal
details of our in-camera decisions:
Code Of Conduct Section B
"3. Release of Confidential Information Prohibited Members have a duty to hold in
strict confidence all information concerning matters dealt with at In-Camera meetings.
Members shall not, either directly or indirectly, release, make public or in any
way divulge any such information or any aspect of the In-Camera deliberations to
6. Mr. Harding initiated the altercation. He, no doubt anticipated, expected and
possibly even wanted the reaction he got. Everyone knows I am more a sailor than
a saint. Although provoked over more than a year, I was wrong to use foul language.
I apologize to my Council and to Mr. Harding for this transgression.
7. Mr. McDonald telephoned me to discuss the 'altercation'. In this, single, five-minute
phone call with the Integrity Commissioner I told him that Mr. Harding deserved the
"fuddle duddle" he was seeking. I also told him I considered the confrontation as
'private' because there were no observers. Thus, I did express my incredulity that
such an incident deserved this level of attention and any potential censure under
our Code of Conduct. Mr. McDonald disagreed.
8. There are portions of Mr. McDonald's Report that I do not recall, nor understand.
There was no mention of "stood tall", "a raised middle finger" in our telephone
conversation, nor do I remember those actions. His quotes regarding my basic attitude
towards the Code of Conduct are, at best, his interpretation of the conversation,
with no context. Any comment I made about the Code of Conduct was made in view of
the 30 second confrontation with Mr. Harding. My wife, who listened to my half of
the telephone call was apoplectic at the comments written in the Report and attributed
9. Mr. McDonald chose to table his Report publically, naming names, at the request
of Mr. Harding. He did this without informing me of its content, as is his right.
Nevertheless, it was not his right to attribute to me a blanket derogation of our
Code of Conduct, certainly not without further discussion, investigation and analysis.
In this way he fed the enmity Mr. Harding was holding against Central Elgin.
10. Mr. McDonald went further to state that: "I do not recommend any remedial actions
in this instance. Remedial actions require participation of the Member which seems
unlikely." This comment was totally unwarranted, insulting and without basis in
11. Mr. McDonalds appointment gives him power as a 'quasi-judicial authority'. With
this authority he has a responsibility to act in a fair and consistent manner. These
responsibilities include the duties of "due process", "fairness" and of upholding
the very important legal concept of "reasonableness". I have been a Councillor since
2010. I have actively participated in all of our discussions and debates to put
in place Central Elgin's Code of Conduct. The record proves my support for good
governance procedures including arguing for, and voting in favour of, our current
Code of Conduct. In publishing this Report Mr. McDonald has over-reached his authority
by casting dispersions on my support for the Code without sufficient evidence. His
audacity to intimate that I am "irredeemable" is unnecessary and further compounds
13. Despite my criticism of the way this inquiry was conducted and reported upon
there are lessons to be learned from this occurrence. I will review and pay more
attention to our Code of Conduct.
14. I have been very proud of Central Elgin's Staff and Council. The working environment
has been extremely positive and a great deal has been achieved. I am not at all
proud at my behaviour in this incident. CE's Code of Conduct is a necessary, important
tool to assist the Staff, Mayor/Deputy Mayor and Council in producing the decorum
necessary for good governance.
15. An independent and objective Integrity Commissioner is also important to ensure
the Code is used effectively, and maintains its credibility. I hope our Integrity
Commissioner will have the opportunity to review his responsibilities and learn
more about how a quasi-judicial authority is meant to operate.
17. It is recommended that the Report dated 14 February 2018 from the Integrity
Commissioner, along with this written response, be noted and filed.
Dan McNeil, Councillor Ward One
I do not resent criticism, even when, for the sake of emphasis, it parts for the
time with reality." Winston Churchill