There was a recent story that Ward 3 Councillor Maggie Laidlaw was being investigated by the integrity commissioner after complaints were filed about some harsh words the veteran politician had at a committee meeting. But after an apology offered by Laidlaw to the complainants, the matter has been withdrawn and the probe ended before the results of the investigation could be brought to council.
The report was scheduled to come before council tomorrow night. The complaints, brought by executive director Janet Laird and two members of her engineering staff, alleged that Laidlaw had broke the Code of Conduct by writing e-mails and making statements "which amounted to abuse, bullying, intimidation and falsely injured (the staff members') professional and ethical reputation." The matter had been under investigation by integrity commissioner Robert Swayze since July.
The withdrawal of the complaints effectively ends the matter. According to the Guelph Mercury's 59 Carden Street blog, Swayze's report says that Laidlaw has admitted that she made an "error in judgement" calling a case before the Committee of Adjustment "ridiculous,"which she later followed with an e-mail alluding to "unsubstantiated information" about a staff member. But with the matter now closed, we, the public, may never learn the details as to why this action was brought in the first place, and the integrity commissioner doesn't work for free.
To that last point, I'm sure the bill for Swayze's time will eventually leak, or otherwise be released with little fanfare. When it does, the people will ask the first question, and justifiably so, a little more forcefully: just what was this money spent to investigate, and if an apology was all it took to bring it to an end, why did the integrity commissioner have to get involved in the first place? And lest the presumption is that all this took place in the dark, there's still a final report from Swayze that you can read here. It starts on page six, and I guarantee that it won't take you long to read it, and at the end you'll get as much information as you know right now.
If Laird and the others are satisfied by an apology, that's fine, and fair, but I think there maybe a broader question here about the use of the integrity commissioner, and the seemingly advance sensitivity covered by the Code of Conduct, because it seems in this instance as though someone scrapped their knee and they were taken into emergency surgery. In other words, we overspend on resources in proportion to the problem, as in government waste. Prove me wrong, City of Guelph.