Coun. Martin apologizes for behaviour that prompted investigation

Having been subject to an investigation by the township’s integrity commissioner, Coun. Murray Martin this week apologized for the actions at the root of public complaints. His colleagues accepted the apology and the consultant’s reports, opting to move on past the incident.

Woolwich’s integrity commissioner recommended council censure Martin for violating the township’s code of conduct in relation to a gravel pit proposed for the Maryhill area.

An investigation was launched when two complaints were filed following a July 13 committee meeting chaired by Martin at which the Capital Paving application was discussed.

Bonnie Bryant of the Hopewell Creek Ratepayers Association alleged Martin had cut her off during a scheduled presentation and subsequently made an untrue statement related to her comments. Another resident, Susan B. Campbell, alleged Martin was in violation of the code by leaving early from the meeting and prejudging the Shantz Station pit application; the latter was upheld.

The complaints were handled by the township’s contracted service provider, ADR Chambers.

In a report dated September 30 for inclusion in the October 5 committee-of-the-whole agenda, integrity commissioner Ellen Fry recommended Martin be directed to apologize to Bryant for interrupting her to contradict her, that council reprimand Martin for prejudging the gravel pit application, and that Martin be excluded from any future meetings in which the application is considered.

Martin apologized Tuesday night, satisfying that aspect of the recommendations.

“At the meeting of July 13, 2021, I violated the procedural bylaw and code of conduct by interrupting Ms. Bryant. I would like to apologize to Ms. Bryant and to this council for the interruption and for the violations,” he said before leaving the meeting to allow other councillors to discuss the commissioner’s reports.

Mayor Sandy Shantz said the township had received legal advice noting there is no mechanism for removing Martin from future discussions of the gravel pit.

“We don’t have authority to remove Coun. Martin from his duties that he was duly elected to do. We can suggest or recommend to him that he recuse himself, but we don’t have the authority to remove him,” she said.

Coun. Scott McMillan said that council should accept Martin’s apology and move on.

“I don’t think any other further action is required or appropriate from council.”

Council’s decision didn’t sit well with Bryant, however.

“I was very disappointed in the outcome of the integrity commissioner report. I reported Murray Martin to the CAO and spoke to the mayor regarding Murray Martin fettering his discretion in the fall of 2019. Nothing was done at the time and Murray sat in on all meetings involving Capital Paving. He should have been reprimanded two years ago,” she said in an email following the meeting.

In her report to council dealing with Bryant’s complaint, Fry found there was insufficient information to determine if Martin had made an untrue statement, adding that preventing Bryant from making her full presentation did not violate council’s code of conduct.

“However, in interrupting Ms. Bryant to contradict her, I find that Councillor Martin violated the procedural bylaw as required by the code of conduct. I recommend that council direct Councillor Martin to apologize to Ms. Bryant and to council for doing so, as contemplated by section 13(e) of the code of conduct,” she wrote.

With Campbell’s complaint, Fry found that Martin did not have a pattern of leaving meetings early, dismissing that portion while upholding the allegations of prejudging the application.

“It is reasonable to conclude that Councillor Martin prejudged the Shantz Station pit application, and in doing so violated the code of conduct. I recommend that council reprimand Councillor Martin for doing so, as contemplated by section 13 of the code of conduct. I also recommend that if in future the application comes before the committee of the whole, council remove Councillor Martin from membership in the committee for any portions of meetings in which the application is considered, as contemplated by section 13 of the code of conduct.”

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