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Interim statement on Investigation into allegations of abuse and harassment

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

At the Annual Members Meeting on November 27, 2022, the Board of Directors presented their report on the Investigation into the allegations of abuse and harassment that certain members of City Council had made against Engage Barrie Organization’s then-Chair Alyssa Wright in the week of September 27.

This report will be made available to the public at a future date, but is being kept confidential for now, pending the completion of further actions undertaken as a result of the conclusions reached.

In the meantime, the following details are being made available to the public:

  • The Board carried out investigations into the allegations of harassment and abuse made by members of Barrie City Council against then-Chair Alyssa Wright, through the months of October and November.

  • Our investigation included:

    • A full review of the correspondence sent to us by the accusing council members, as well as the accusations printed in local media and their social media accounts

    • A full review of the referenced Twitter account and website

    • Invitations to the accusing councillors and the election candidates who had been included in email conversations from the accusers to provide any additional “substantive, specific examples of threats, abuse or harassment” to forward them to our Interim Chair (no such submissions were received)

    • Review by independent third parties to get their opinions on the material/claims that had been presented, both in the media and through direct communication. This included legal experts in the field of defamation, slander, and libel.

  • Through this investigation, neither the Board nor any of the independent third parties were able to substantiate the claims of harassment based on the examples provided – while the involved parties were invited to provide additional examples, no submissions were received.

  • The legal experts each referenced the content from the website and social media account in question as “fair comment as public interest”, and cited Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada’s upholding of the essential connection between freedom of expression and the political process.

  • All actions taken by Ms. Wright on behalf of EBO have been conducted under the principles of EBO.

  • As a result of this investigation, no further action will be taken regarding Ms. Wright in this matter. The Board will continue to count Ms. Wright as an active member of EBO and extend to her full rights as such a member, including the opportunity to run for, and sit on, the Board.

The members in attendance at the Annual Members Meeting were in agreement with the decisions made in the investigation, and the proposed further actions.


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