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Finally - the apology - and a comment about a head of counsel who continually seeks out opportunities to cause quarrels and distress'

By Pepper Parr

June 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Finally, with the Mayor away – her daughter graduates from Western University and Momma wants to be there for that event, Councillor Shawna Stolte, serving as the Deputy Mayor and Chair of the city council meeting got to read out her apology to staff member Georgie Gartside.

Stolte began:

“ I’m going to start with a comment to say that it really saddens and distresses me that we have a head of counsel who continually seeks out opportunities to cause quarrels and distress at the expense of honest and genuine work of councillors. The statement I’d prepared for today is an apology to a staff member named Georgie Gartside for comments made by myself that she was concerned had impugned her professionalism.

“I’m not sure how the mayor came to know the details of the issue  which were a private matter.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

“I had come to a genuine and heartfelt resolution that had resulted in the Integrity Commissioner determining that a public report and discussion was not necessary, as Ms Gartside and myself had reached a satisfactory resolution to her concerns. I’m concerned that the mayor’s behaviour has only served to taint and cheapen what was meant to be a positive and collaborative closure for Ms Gartside and myself.  Having said that, I’d like to take the time now to read the statement that I’d prepared and I hope that she’s listening and that I hope that her experience has not been too tainted by the display earlier today.

“The statement I’d like to make is that creating and maintaining positive and productive relationships with staff at the City of Burlington is very important in our role as counsellors.  It came to my attention, that a direct quote of mine in an article in the Burlington Gazette resulted in a city staff member feeling as though their character or reputation had been affected and this is not something I take lightly.

“I’d like to express my sincere regret that my involvement in an article in the Burlington Gazette on April 11 of 2020  caused distress to a staff member,  Ms Georgie  Gartside, as this was certainly not my intention. The nature of my interview for that article was very casual regarding the first year of being a new counsellor. And my answer to the general open ended question of what was the first few months like was described in a casual storytelling manner, which was intended to be only background material for what I assumed would be an edited article.

“Had I understood that my general and casual comments were be going to be printed verbatim in a series of articles, I certainly would have taken greater care to ensure that the explanation of my own experiences did not have any potential to negatively impact others. While I did not mention Ms Gartside specifically by name, I can certainly appreciate that she felt as though she’d be too easily identified by the comments in the article. It came to my attention that Ms  Gartside felt that the comments made it sound like she had spoken to myself in a rude manner and that she did not want to be a counsellor assistant or that she planned to leave the counsellor’s office as soon as she could or that we did not work well together.

“I absolutely acknowledge Ms  Gartside is concerned that my comments could have been misinterpreted in this manner. I want to state without hesitation that was certainly not in any way what I intended to communicate, and I regret any misunderstanding that caused Ms  Gartside distress. Ms  Gartside was very professional, upfront and honest and advising me during the first week of this term of counsel that her preference would have been to have stayed in the clerk’s department to further her career objectives. And I appreciated that honesty and I supported her desire to continue her career path.

This is the paragraph in the April 11th, 2020 interview that led Georgie Gartside to think that she was the staff member. The Gazette was not told who the person was.

“Ms Gartside remained my ward for assistant for a period of seven months in 2018 and 2019, before being requested to fill a temporary vacancy in the mayor’s office. And during those seven months, Ms Gartside was always highly professional, collaborative, polite and helping to navigate the steep learning curve at City Hall.

Upon learning of Ms Gartside’s concern I immediately sent her a private apology as I would never intentionally cause a respected colleague distress. Miss Gartside indicated it was important to her that her colleagues and the public hear directly from me that I have nothing but the utmost respect for her work and her commitment to her career. And I was more than willing to clear up this misinterpretation. If it brings comfort and resolution to a colleague for whom I have nothing but respect for.

“I want to conclude by stressing that positive and respectful relationships between staff and council are important to accomplishing the good work of the city. And I truly hope that this apology brings Miss Gartside, some peace of mind.”

The complete story of how this disturbing situation came about will follow.

Related news:

The interview that started it all.

The Mayor sets out to squash a city councillor – it backfires.

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4 comments to Finally – the apology – and a comment about a head of counsel who continually seeks out opportunities to cause quarrels and distress’

  • Wendy

    watching June 21 Council meeting on YOUR TV and absolutely disgusted with the actions of our Mayor and watching Councillor Nisan smirking. What color will you “light up the Pier” for Bullying Awareness week Mayor ????

  • Sharon

    Shawna would have my support if she ran for Mayor.

  • Denise W.

    If Shawna ran for mayor, she would have my every support and vote!

  • Penny Hersh

    The person on council who came across as professional today was Shawna Stolte.