Shawna Stolte and the Integrity Commissioner

By Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2022



The Director of Communications for the city took exception to the views in this opinion piece maintaining that there were errors.  We replied to the Director in this article Differences of opinion and attempts to manipulate which you can read HERE

There are two issues when we talk about Shawna Stolte and her campaign for re-election as the Council member for ward 4

We covered what she has done and what she said she would do in a previous article.

The second issue with Shawna Stolte as an elected official is her behaviour as seen by the Integrity Commissioner.

The Integrity is in place to ensure that members of Council follow the rules they set out for themselves and a place citizens can register complaints

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

Early this year two members of Council filed a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner over a statement Stolte made related to how much the city was going to pay to purchase the Robert Bateman High School site.

She said in a council meeting that the sum was in the order of $50 million dollars. Stolte did not release the exact number but she is believed to have been very close that whatever the number is.

The Integrity Commissioner accepted the complaints and did an investigation and came to the conclusion that Stolte did indeed reveal to the public information she learned of in a closed session of Council.

That is a no no – and Stolte admitted as much saying that she felt very strongly about the public’s need to know what kind of spending Council was talking about in CLOSED sessions of Council.

The Integrity Commissioner decided that an appropriate punishment was to dock the Council member five days pay.

Stolte accepted the decision and said later that if it took five days pay to get information before the public it was money well spent.

The Integrity Commissioner took exception to that remark and said later that if he had known there was little in the way of remorse he would have considered docking the Council member 30 days pay.

There was considerable difference of opinion on just what this should mean. Many thought that deciding to release the $50 million number was an egregious mistake while others saw it as a matter of principle.

Stolte did not benefit from the release of the information; the public interest was in no way damaged. The sale/purchase of the property was not impacted.

Agreed that Stolte made public information that was discussed in a CLOSED session of Council and It is important that Council members be fully aware of that.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

She took the position that it was a matter of principle and that the public had a right to know.

One of the things that came out of the incident was the bringing in legal specialists who did a survey of the manner in which Council made public matters that were discussed in a CLOSED session and made more than a suggestion that Council tighten up the way it keeps the public informed.

That report, to a considerable degree, supports the principled decision Stolte made.

The second matter relating Stolte that went to the Integrity Commissioner should have never been accepted by those people.

Stolte did an interview with the Gazette in which she talked about what the first couple of years as a Council member was like.

One of the bumps she ran into was getting an administrative assistant. In Burlington every member of Council has an administrative assistant. None of the other municipal councils in the region provide that level of support to their Council members.

Stole didn’t name the person assigned to her. So what was the big deal?

Well the big deal was that the woman, who turned out to be Georgi Garside has worked for the city for more than 20 years. She was Marianne Meed Ward’s administrative assistant when she was the Councillor for ward 2.    Garside was not a recent city employee.

The two women are quite close and are reported to entertain each other in their homes.

Shawna Stolte with her father.

When Stolte learned of Garside’s concern she immediately offered to apologize. Quite why she would apologize is beyond me.

Where the error was made, we believe is that the Integrity Commissioner should have kept their sticky fingers out of the issue.

They did say that there was no breach of the Code of Good Conduct and they should have left it at that.

But they chose to get involved in the writing of the apology.

Where the City Manager, Tim Commisso was in all this defies understanding.

This was a Human Resources issue and there should have been a reprimand to Garside. Staff accept the assignments they are given and if they don’t like the assignment take their concern to Human Resources or look for another job.

The City Manager apparently said nothing.

However, Stolte said she would apologize and she was going to stand by that decision.

Then it got really silly and very very nasty.

Stole advised the Mayor and the Clerk that she would be reading her apology during the Comments part of the council meeting, which was her right.

The Mayor was having none of it. She decided she was going to re-arrange the Agenda, which was her right, and have Stolte read her apology into the record at the beginning of the meeting so that Garside, who was participating virtually, could hear what she had already read.

Had Stolte done that the matter would have become debatable and Stolte would have had to defend was took place to any member of Council that chose to question her.
Stolte was having none of it.

That is when the Mayor made a total fool of herself and damaged forever the reputation she had for being a decent person.

The Gazette has published her 14 minute shameful display of sheer nastiness many times. Click on the link to hear it for yourself. Listen to it several times to understand how controlling and manipulative your Mayor is.

We don’t want to appear to be commending Stolte for the principled decision she made. What it did was bring to the surface how treacherous Mayor Marianne Meed Ward can be.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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4 comments to Shawna Stolte and the Integrity Commissioner

  • Cathy

    Stolte appears to be in regular touch with the Gazette and is known to “set the record straight” in the comments section.

    I look forward to her comment distancing herself from the Gazette blaming Gartside and re-stating her apology is without reservation.

    Stolte should never have talked about her direct report in the Gazette like she did. She must own there is a power imbalance with the councilor and Gartside, and a public apology – not private one – was necessary.

    Editor’s note: For the record Shawn Stolte is not regularly in touch with the Gazette. We seldom hear from her directly. And at times she chooses not to respond to our questions.

    Every member of this council struggles with transparency and accountability. They speak of serving as an “honour” then for most of them fail to really serve.

  • Mary Hill

    Was it not only just yesterday the Gazette said in relation to Councilor Kearns’ breach of confidentiality “loose lips sink ships”. And yet today the Gazette lauds Councilor Stolte for committing the same breach. But it’s OK because Stolte broke the rule because of a principle she held. So if you have a reason to break the rules, the Gazette thinks it’s OK. Stolte obviously does not see living by tge rules as being a principle in life. (no politician does – wink wink)

    The end never justifies the means!

    Stolte then showed absolutely no remorse. Whereas Kearns apologized. Yet in the Gazette’s weird view Stolte is ok and Kearns not so much.

    The Gazette says “the public interest was in no way damaged. The sale/purchase of the property was not impacted.” How does the Gazette know that? It might have impacted the negotiations with the school board which at that time were still ongoing. The Gazette, nor I, nor anyone outside of the negotiations loops knows if it did or did not.

    I live in Ward 4. I have already cast my vote in favour of Stolte. Both Stolte and Kearns deserve re-election.

    Gazette, please try to be more balanced and consistently balanced

    Editor’s note: What Ms Hall does not appear to understand is that the piece was an opinion. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Re: “…she felt very strongly about the public’s need to know…” – that’s fine, but it was an error in judgment to reveal any confidential information. The correct approach would have been to raise her concern with Council and abide by Council’s subsequent (reveal or don’t reveal) decision. Deliberately breaking confidentiality rules suggests someone who can no longer be trusted and the lack of remorse is disturbing. In the private corporate sector that would be cause for termination.
    The continuing rationalization of unacceptable behaviour by the Gazette is puzzling.

  • Lydia Fletcher

    Can we please move on……poor poor poor Shawna …..seems like nothing else is even taking place at city hall but this article that Pepper Parr continues to replay like a bad dream……quite frankly I’m sick of hearing how bad Shawna Stolte was treated …and yet it was so bad here she is running again…report on some other candidates for a change…..Groundhog Day again……