top of page

Contact Your Councillor: What Is Happening At Barrie City Council?

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

During an Oct.20 General Committee meeting, councillors received a report on a workplace harassment investigation that is subject to solicitor-client privilege. (This means that communications and documents are confidential as between the client and the lawyer. What might otherwise be relevant evidence or information, admissible in court or required to be disclosed to the other side in a lawsuit, can be kept confidential.)[1]


Video: https://youtu.be/qau2WjQaDbI

Minutes: http://barrie.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=M&ID=810648&GUID=CC9E1D0B-16FE-4C79-9425-9C24D46176B0


CUPE Local 2380 president Mike Murphy, who represents unionized employees at the city, confirmed to Simcoe.com that the alleged incident happened less than a year ago and involved a member of Council and a full-time, unionized city employee. “I can’t give you names because there is a confidentiality piece,” he said. “There were a number of allegations that were made, and many of them were substantiated.” [2]


As a result, the Committee has asked the city’s Human Resources Director, Clerk, Integrity Commissioner and legal counsel to amend municipal anti-violence and workplace human rights procedures. The goal is to remove language identifying roles and responsibilities for City Council and staff while investigating “complaint allegations involving council and committee members.” [3]


The Committee also wants the clerk to determine whether there is a need to amend Council’s Code of Conduct to clarify the “roles and responsibilities” of the Integrity Commissioner on complaints related to workplace violence or harassment. [4]



During the Oct.20 deliberation, Deputy Mayor Barry Ward tried to make an amendment to the above motion which called upon the Integrity Commissioner to investigate the allegations set out in the confidential staff report. This amendment failed to pass:


  • Councillors Clare Riepma, Keenan Aylwin, Ann-Marie Kungl, and Barry Ward all voted IN FAVOUR of this amendment.

  • Councillors Robert Thompson, Natalie Harris, Gary Harvey, Jim Harris and Sergio Morales all voted AGAINST this amendment.

  • Councillor Mike McCann abstained from voting.

  • Mayor Jeff Lehman, who chairs the committee, only votes to break a tie, which was not needed in this case.




Deputy Mayor Barry Ward put forth another amendment, which requested that “the matter be referred to external legal council to provide an opinion on alternative actions that could be undertaken in response to the results of the investigation in the confidential staff report HRS00220.” This amendment also failed to pass. Once again:


  • Councillors Clare Riepma, Keenan Aylwin, Ann-Marie Kungl, and Barry Ward all voted IN FAVOUR of this amendment.

  • Councillors Robert Thompson, Natalie Harris, Gary Harvey, Jim Harris and Sergio Morales all voted AGAINST this amendment.

  • Councillor Mike McCann abstained from voting.

  • Mayor Jeff Lehman, who chairs the committee, only votes to break a tie, which was not needed in this case.




You can watch these votes here: https://youtu.be/qau2WjQaDbI


The original motion (referenced above) was passed, and will potentially be ratified at City Council on October 26th.


What Does This Mean?

Council has passed a motion to have its current code of conduct evaluated, as well as the Integrity Commissioner’s role in workplace violence/harassment cases assessed as a result of the information in a confidential staff report which discusses a workplace harassment case between a member of City Council and a unionized, city employee. Many of the facts in this workplace harassment investigation have been SUBSTANTIATED, which means they have been proven to be true. However, Council FAILED to pass an amendment to the motion which would require the city’s Integrity Commissioner to investigate these allegations, and also failed to pass another amendment which would refer this matter to external legal council. Council has agreed to have their code of conduct adjusted, but has refused to address the workplace harassment situation that is happening between someone around their table and a city employee. They are excusing the harassment in place of a bandaid solution, where the council member who is responsible for harassment will receive no punishment, repercussions, or accountability. Once again, these are the members of Council who voted AGAINST an investigation into the workplace harassment case, and AGAINST referring to external legal council to provide alternative action and opinions on the case: Councillors Robert Thompson, Natalie Harris, Gary Harvey, Jim Harris, and Sergio Morales.



1. https://www.canadaemploymenthumanrightslaw.com/2018/07/solicitor-client-privilege/

2. taken from Chris Simon’s article: https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10230391--uncharted-territory-barrie-committee-meets-in-camera-over-workplace-harassment-investigation-invo

3. Taken from official minutes of the General Committee Report from the meeting held October 20th, 2020: http://barrie.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=M&ID=810648&GUID=CC9E1D0B-16FE-4C79-9425-9C24D46176B0

4. ibid.

0 comments