THREE COUNCILLORS SANCTIONED
FOR STANDING UP FOR WHAT'S RIGHT!
Residents in three of Rocky View County’s nine divisions are experiencing taxation without representation. Councillors Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Samanntha Wright are sanctioned for standing up for your rights – for trying to bring transparency and accountability to questionable Council processes.
In sanctioning our three elected representatives, the majority on Council has effectively sanctioned 40% of the County's residents. As well, all councillors represent and make decisions for the entire County. The sanctions silence all our voices - HELP STOP OUR SANCTIONS!
WHAT ARE THE SANCTIONS?
Hanson, Kissel and Wright are subject to the following:
Zero access to all staff including the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), except during twice-monthly council meetings
Removal from all boards and committees (list of Rocky View Boards and Committees)
Restrictions on their ability to represent residents at County conferences, meetings, events and activities
30% loss of wages
WHAT DID THEY DO?
Last December, Hanson, Kissel and Wright, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, sought legal advice regarding the process used to hire the CAO
For sharing a County document with their lawyer, they were sanctioned for allegedly “breaching confidentiality”
This is nonsensical – lawyers are bound by solicitor-client confidentiality
In April, acting on the advice of their lawyer, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Alberta Ombudsman and the County’s own lawyers, Hanson, Kissel and Wright tried to introduce a motion to create a CAO hiring policy
The Council majority refused to let their motion be introduced, let alone debated
Hanson, Kissel and Wright then wrote a letter to the editor informing residents about what happened and expressing their frustration at having the Council majority abuse its power to silence them
They were sanctioned for allegedly using “language that was without courtesy and respect” - click here to read the letter
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Hanson, Kissel and Wright represent over 40% of Rocky View taxpayers - these taxpayers no longer have effective representation
Hanson, Kissel and Wright are now prohibited from doing the job you elected them to do
The majority on Rocky View’s Council is using your tax dollars to defend their actions
Hanson, Kissel and Wright ask hard, awkward policy-focused questions and provide balance to what would otherwise be a one-sided Council
The sanctions are an attack on free speech which is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Code of Conduct has been weaponized - this was never its intent
There is no proportionality to these sanctions - they are akin to taking a sledgehammer to a fly
The County Plan and the Bearspaw Area Structure plan are being reviewed, how can these councillors effectively participate in the process if they have been shut out?
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Hanson, Kissel and Wright have already spent over $25,000 of their own money to defend themselves against these questionable sanctions. They need your support to fight this injustice so they can continue to provide effective representation to all Rocky View residents.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs has refused to intervene without a request from the council majority or a petition from county residents. For obvious reasons, the council majority has rejected both mediation and intervention from the Minister. As a result, a legal challenge to the Court of Queen's Bench is the the only option left for our Councillors to remove their sanctions so that they can get back to work and represent our interests.
There are two things that you can do:
1) Challenging the sanctions in court is expensive. Help fund this worthy cause and bring accountability back to Rocky View County. Click here to link to the fundrazr page.
2) We have started a petition asking the Minister of Municipal Affairs to do an inspection into Rocky View County. If you'd like to read more about the petition, please click here. To sign the petition, please drop us a line letting us know - firstname.lastname@example.org. We will arrange for someone to come and get your signature.
WHY A PETITION?
Challenging the sanctions at the Court of Queen's Bench is something that the councillors can do. That said, the court date keeps changing - it was originally set for September 18th, then October 10th. It is now set for January 22nd. There is no guarantee that the date won't change again. The dates for this challenge keep being delayed meaning there may be no end in sight. We believe that this is unacceptable and are willing to take action.
Many residents wrote to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to ask him to investigate the sanctions and the issues with council in general. The Minister responded to all those residents stating that he would not get involved without a petition.
A petition requires signatures of 20% of a municipality's population. For Rocky View, this means approximately 8,000 signatures. These sanctions directly affect 16,000 residents but have severe repercussions for all Rocky View residents. The councillors have asked for mediation and an inspection but their colleagues keep refusing. This council is dysfunctional - and the madness needs to stop.
Councillor Division 9
"I ran on a commitment to all residents of Rocky View County - to listen to their opinions and suggestions. I want to rebuild the faith that Rocky View councillors are working in the residents' best interests."
Councillor Division 3
“I’m not sure anyone truly realizes that it’s municipal politics that touches them on a daily basis. My diverse professional background and board experience provides me with a unique perspective on governing - one that values accountability above all else."
Councillor Division 8
"It is at the local level of politics where individuals should have the most say over what goes on around them. It is imperative that Council operates under complete transparency and that residents are represented by someone who reflects their values and puts them first."
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE SANCTIONS
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW?
There were four councillors who shared the legal opinion with their lawyer. Only three were sanctioned. The fourth, Jerry Gautreau, was not sanctioned. Why not? How can a "breach" only apply to some participants and not all?
Hanson, Kissel and Wright have four legal opinions stating that sharing the document with their lawyer is not a breach of confidentiality - lawyers are bound by solicitor-client privilege. How can councillors get legal advice on questionable decisions if they can’t share information with their lawyer?
In terms of discourteous and disrespectful language, the Reeve has said much worse throughout his career. He has called other council members “corrupt” and suggested these three councillors "move to a communist country". Why has he never been sanctioned?
Most of the sanctions last until October, 2020. Why does the majority want these councillors silenced for so long?
The Municipal Government Act and Rocky View’s Code of Conduct both state that sanctions cannot impede a councillor’s ability to do his/her job. These sanctions make it virtually impossible for these councillors to do their jobs. Why aren’t sanctions vetted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs before they are imposed?
Hanson, Kissel and Wright asked for mediation, as recommended by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. When that failed, they asked for a review by Municipal Affairs. Both options were rejected by the majority on Council. Why? What do they have to hide?
A month before Council imposed its sanctions, Hanson, Kissel and Wright were sanctioned by Council’s sole employee, CAO Al Hoggan. They have a legal opinion stating that this is beyond the CAO’s authority. Were Council’s sanctions imposed to obscure the CAO’s illegitimate sanctions?
The lawyer acting as Rocky View’s code of conduct investigator did prior work in Kneehill County when Al Hoggan was their CAO. Is this a coincidence?
The CAO was hired on one interview for a job that pays over $235,000 per year. He also crafted his own contract. Is this what you expect from your County's leadership?
Canada is a democracy that protects our freedom of speech under its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Still, the three councillors have been sanctioned for expressing their opinion in a letter to the editor and for referring to the "tyranny of the majority." Aren't the sanctions unconstitutional and tyrannical?
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2019 survey reveals Canadians view municipal governments as the most trusted order of government to improve quality of life in their communities. Is it fair that these sanctions could ultimately impact your quality of life?
Rocky View Weekly - Sept 10, 2019
Calgary Herald - Sept 10, 2019
Rocky View Weekly - Sept 13, 2019
Rocky View Weekly - Sept 20, 2019
Rocky View Weekly - Sept 27, 2019
Rocky View Weekly - Oct. 11, 2019