VOICE Opinion Column
“COUNCILLOR docked pay for ‘vociferously’ endorsing Hamilton police budget as son is staff sergeant: report.”
That was the heading of a CBC story on Wednesday with the subheading: “Ward 7 Coun. Esther Pauls acknowledges she was in the wrong and won’t vote on the police budget Wednesday.”
Pauls was reprimanded by Hamilton’s integrity commissioner for not recusing herself from past votes because her son is a staff sergeant with the Hamilton Police Service (HPS), whose salary is included in the police budget. Pauls is a member of the police services board, the CBC reported.
What made all of this pretty disgusting is that the integrity commissioner’s report found Pauls had debated “with vigour” and “vociferously” endorsed and voted for the police budget at the board meeting in late 2022.
Pauls admitted her conflict of interest, but said she had done so “unknowingly and unintentionally.”
But then, she IS a politician, no?
Why do I question her truthfulness?
Because the integrity commissioner report said Paul had been warned by the staff three times about her conflict of interest. They told her NOT to participate in the debate and NOT to vote.
She can remain on the board, but she has to be especially vigilant on declaring conflicts, the CBC reported.
THAT brings us to Surrey where the Surrey Police Union revealed that Surrey Connect Councillor Rob Stutt had “ never disclosed that the RCMP employs his son in the Surrey Detachment, nor has he ever declared that his daughter is assigned to the RCMP via secondment from the City of Surrey” and submitted a formal request to the Office of the Surrey Ethics Commissioner to investigate Stutt’s alleged breach of the City of Surrey’s rules around conflict of interest.
As The VOICE wrote on March 1: “On November 14, 2022, Stutt voted in favour of a motion to end the transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service. If he had recused himself – as he should have ethically done – that motion would not have passed.”
What is more, Stutt was appointed the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, “which she claims will offer a new standard for accountability and oversight over the RCMP should it remain as Surrey’s Police of Jurisdiction,” as the SPU put it.
We pointed out that Stutt in an interview with a local Surrey paper never mentioned the fact that his son is a Mountie.
We then asked a series of questions:
“Why, Stutt, aren’t you proud of having a Mountie son?!
“You didn’t even mention it in your bio on the Surrey Connect site — or anywhere else?
“Or were you trying to hide something?
“In any case, why didn’t you tell your fellow Surrey Connect councillors and [Surrey Mayor Brenda] Locke about your son?
“Or did they all know about it, but kept quiet?
“If they all knew about it, then they too are guilty of deception, aren’t they?
“Locke, didn’t you know that Stutt’s son was a Mountie?
“Didn’t you ever ask him what his kids do when you accepted him as a Surrey Connect candidate? (That’s called “due diligence,” by the way!)”
On March 7, the City of Surrey announced that the City had chosen a new ethics commissioner – lawyer Peter Johnson.
We will have to wait and see what Johnson’s ruling will be in Stutt’s case.
But we would advise him to take a good look at the Hamilton case because all of Canada will be watching his ruling.