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Support for resolutions pleases Ritchot mayor

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 12/5/2017 10:00 AM

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Ritchot mayor Chris Ewen said he remains hopeful widespread support for a pair of AMM resolutions will allow municipal councils to respond more decisively to belligerence around the council table.

"Those two were absolutely great to see," he said, following last week’s annual convention of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities in Brandon.

The first resolution, supported by 91 percent of delegates, asks the province to bolster existing "prevention, investigation and enforcement mechanisms available to municipalities" dealing with harassment or bullying among elected officials or staff.

The second, which resonated with 86 percent of delegates, requests an ombudsman to hear code of conduct complaints. It would also extend current powers of censure and afford Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act protections to municipal officials.

AMM will now lobby the province to adopt the recommendations.

Although Ritchot council was the site of poor behaviour by former councillors as recently as spring, Ewen said he did not feel Ritchot was singled out at the convention.

"Ritchot’s name came up a few times," he said. "But I don’t feel like we were put in the limelight."

He characterized former mayor Jackie Hunt’s exasperation with aggressive councillors as a problem that galvanized informal conversations already occurring across the province.

"I think it was a movement that wasn’t started in Ritchot…but people looked to Ritchot to see what was going on," he said.

"It was good to see that people were watching and following what happened."

Ewen said he has not spoken to Hunt since the convention. The former mayor, who Ewen defeated in the July byelection sparked by council turmoil, did not respond to requests for a interview.

He explained his support for the resolutions were motivated not by mayoral obligation, but by basic decency.

"I think we should always support the idea of no bullying in any form, be it workplace, or at home, or in public," he said.

"Nothing is productive when somebody’s harassing you at work…there should be things put in place to make sure people feel safe and comfortable wherever they go."

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