Watchdog seeks police escort as Chatham politician hit with maximum penalty

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Watchdog seeks police escort as Chatham politician hit with maximum penalty
The watchdog determined her past behaviour, including social media posts, breached council's code of conduct

Author of the article:Ellwood Shreve • Chatham Daily News
Published Aug 15, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

CHATHAM – A municipal politician here was handed the maximum allowable penalty by her colleagues after a watchdog determined her past behaviour, including social media posts, breached council’s code of conduct.


Chatham-Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville remained defiant – “Democracy, I think, failed today,” she said – after a majority of council voted to suspend her pay for three months following integrity commissioner Mary Ellen Bench’s determination that Jubenville deserved a penalty.


Jubenville was found to have engaged in behaviour, including social media posts, that used her position as a public official to bully and intimidate, according to Bench’s findings.

A three-month pay suspension is the maximum penalty an integrity commissioner can recommend. Council can’t change the independent findings of the probe, but it can decide on a different penalty or no penalty at all.

Jubenville believes this decision will create a big division on council. “I’m going to continue to show up and take part in the democratic process and vote and vote as my constituents would want me to.”


More than 100 of her allies arrived in front of the Civic Centre in Chatham before Monday’s council meeting began as a show of support.

The commissioner’s investigation stems from social media posts after council defeated a motion by Jubenville last April to have Chatham-Kent fly only government flags, seen by critics as a way to ban pro-LGBTQ Pride flags. Deciding which organizations could fly flags on municipal property became a hot-button issue when council refused a flag-raising request from the group Life in Motion, an anti-abortion group.

Debate followed about flag-raising requests from other groups, such as Pride, LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter.


When asked if she will do anything differently when expressing an opinion on social media, Jubenville said: “Probably not.”


Jubenville’s lawyer, Michael Alexander, addressed council before it imposed a penalty against her to cite concerns over anonymous complainants. He also argued the case violates Jubenville’s right to freedom of expression in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bench, the integrity commissioner, said complainants will not be publicly identified. “I continue to remain concerned for the safety of the individuals if I were to make their names public.”

Bench added: “I have to be honest and tell you . . . I was concerned enough about my own safety that I asked for police to be present at tonight’s meeting.”

Bench’s report cited copies of social media posts that raised concerns about Jubenville’s comments and positions, as well as potential retribution from her supporters, online and in-person.

Earlier this summer, Jubenville spoke with The Chatham Daily News and defended her opinions and her right to express them.

“There are some voices out in our community that I guess don’t align or feel the same about my views,” she said. “I feel confident in saying that I represent thousands of Chatham-Kent residents who are conservative, or libertarian, or Christian. I’ve even had some people from the Muslim community reach out to me in support.”
 
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spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
36,327
3,114
113
Watchdog seeks police escort as Chatham politician hit with maximum penalty
The watchdog determined her past behaviour, including social media posts, breached council's code of conduct

Author of the article:Ellwood Shreve • Chatham Daily News
Published Aug 15, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

CHATHAM – A municipal politician here was handed the maximum allowable penalty by her colleagues after a watchdog determined her past behaviour, including social media posts, breached council’s code of conduct.


Chatham-Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville remained defiant – “Democracy, I think, failed today,” she said – after a majority of council voted to suspend her pay for three months following integrity commissioner Mary Ellen Bench’s determination that Jubenville deserved a penalty.


Jubenville was found to have engaged in behaviour, including social media posts, that used her position as a public official to bully and intimidate, according to Bench’s findings.

A three-month pay suspension is the maximum penalty an integrity commissioner can recommend. Council can’t change the independent findings of the probe, but it can decide on a different penalty or no penalty at all.

Jubenville believes this decision will create a big division on council. “I’m going to continue to show up and take part in the democratic process and vote and vote as my constituents would want me to.”


More than 100 of her allies arrived in front of the Civic Centre in Chatham before Monday’s council meeting began as a show of support.

The commissioner’s investigation stems from social media posts after council defeated a motion by Jubenville last April to have Chatham-Kent fly only government flags, seen by critics as a way to ban pro-LGBTQ Pride flags. Deciding which organizations could fly flags on municipal property became a hot-button issue when council refused a flag-raising request from the group Life in Motion, an anti-abortion group.

Debate followed about flag-raising requests from other groups, such as Pride, LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter.


When asked if she will do anything differently when expressing an opinion on social media, Jubenville said: “Probably not.”


Jubenville’s lawyer, Michael Alexander, addressed council before it imposed a penalty against her to cite concerns over anonymous complainants. He also argued the case violates Jubenville’s right to freedom of expression in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bench, the integrity commissioner, said complainants will not be publicly identified. “I continue to remain concerned for the safety of the individuals if I were to make their names public.”

Bench added: “I have to be honest and tell you . . . I was concerned enough about my own safety that I asked for police to be present at tonight’s meeting.”

Bench’s report cited copies of social media posts that raised concerns about Jubenville’s comments and positions, as well as potential retribution from her supporters, online and in-person.

Earlier this summer, Jubenville spoke with The Chatham Daily News and defended her opinions and her right to express them.

“There are some voices out in our community that I guess don’t align or feel the same about my views,” she said. “I feel confident in saying that I represent thousands of Chatham-Kent residents who are conservative, or libertarian, or Christian. I’ve even had some people from the Muslim community reach out to me in support.”
in regards to the ongoing flag debate, each municipality should only have 3 flags, federal, provincial, and municipal. no need for any more than that. 💡