The mayor of a small town in Newfoundland was fired after a state investigation found that she was responsible for harassment at work.
Debbie Brake-Patten was Mayor of Kippens on the west coast of Newfoundland until a report from the municipal affairs department upheld plaintiffs on allegations of harassment against her earlier this month.
A report (strictly censored) states that Brake Patten continued her actions after her first complaint and she refused to apologize though her identity was kept secret.
Municipal Affairs Minister Krista Lynn Howell told CBC News that the formal complaint included a “serious allegation of bullying and harassment” in the city council. She did not mention Howell did not tell what kind of harassment was reported due to the privacy policies.
The town of Kippens will elect a new council on Tuesday. However, Brake- Patten is excluded from the two-year run and is not included in the vote.
Graham Armour, a Kippens resident in support of the Brake-Patten, took up a decision by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to dismiss the mayor and showed in an interview Wednesday that the state government had interfered with local democracy.
“It’s the voters who decide, not the Minister of St. Johns,” Armour said. “She hasn’t committed a crime. Where is the trial? ”
Armour also suggested that the entire town hall should be responsible, and the CBC received several emails from locals that the problem was widespread throughout the town council.
” It’s the council of dysfunction and a completely toxic workplace, ” and they blame the mayor for all this,” said Armour.
Howell would not confirm receipt of any more harassment accusations from Kippens’ town hall but stated that future claims would be properly investigated.
“If it comes to our notice… then the same would apply to any circumstance involving any claims inside this council,” she stated. “So, if this is something that is ongoing and someone else believes that there is a need to examine otherwise, we’re not opposed to it either.”
Howell also stated that the department sought mediation and training before removing Brake-Patten.
“I believe there was sufficient time for a change in behaviour,” she stated. “As a result, our actions here were justified.”
Both Brake-Patten and the Kippens municipal council declined to comment.
The Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs stated in an emailed statement that the decision to remove Brake-Patten was not taken lightly.
“The report’s results and recommendations are consistent with previous steps that have been taken.”