Kincardine councillor reprimanded for making obscene comment

by Pauline Kerr

The integrity commissioners’ report by John Mascarin and Meghan Cowan from Aird & Berlis LLP, presented at the July 4 meeting of council, came with a warning that it contained language some people might find offensive.
The exact wording of the statement made by Coun. Dave Cuyler at the April 4 council meeting was quoted in the report only once, but the integrity commissioners left no doubt about the statement, calling it “profane and degrading.”
On the recommendation of the integrity commissioners, Cuyler was officially reprimanded and given a 90-day pay suspension for making an offensive and obscene comment aimed at a female councillor. This was the strongest penalty an integrity commissioner can recommend.
Five formal complaints had been filed with the municipality following the April 4 council meeting. As is his right, the municipality’s usual integrity commissioner Harold Elston delegated authority for the investigation and report to Aird & Berlis.
The investigation revealed that the meeting had been recorded and broadcast live. Although the mayor and those in the council chamber had trouble hearing the comment (due to audio issues and Plexiglas barriers between desks), it was audible to those on Zoom and Rogers television. Mascarin said it generated “widespread … even international interest.”
The complainants alleged that an obscenity was uttered into an open microphone, directed at Coun. Laura Haight. Cuyler denied it had been directed at any individual.
The report concluded that the councillor made the comment that had taken place during a heated discussion with Haight in which the mayor repeatedly intervened.
The report also concluded there were inconsistencies in the councillor’s interview with the integrity commissioners.
While Cuyler argued (as per clause 51 of the report) “that his conduct and the comment were open to interpretation,” the integrity commissioners determined that he (as per clause 52) “had made the comment, it was profane and offensive and that any reasonable person would conclude that it was more likely than not, directed toward Coun. Haight.”
This was the third time Cuyler had been the subject of an integrity commissioner’s investigation. Council voted unanimously in favour of the recommended 90-day pay suspension in light of previous violations, number of complaints and severity of the offence.
When the matter of the penalty was put to the vote, Haight left the council room, saying she had been one of the complainants, and although she had strived to maintain an open mind about the matter, found that she could not.
Coun. Maureen Couture did not participate in considering the report, because of a perceived bias stated at an earlier meeting.
As directed by Mascarin, Cuyler, too, did not vote. He did state that “the matter would be before the court.”

Kincardine councillor reprimanded for making obscene comment was last modified: July 13th, 2022 by Hannah MacLeod

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