I found the following comment from TSBP councillor Janice Jackson on her website. Kudos to Councillor Jackson for having the courage to speak out against the actions of the five councillors who rammed the indemnification by-law through.
Having been elected by the people to look out for their best interests as well as their money, this Bylaw is of great concern to me. I feel this bylaw is unnecessary and in my opinion, could possibly be illegal. The town’s insurance policy (which we pay handsomely for) covers Councillors, staff and volunteers (ie members of Committees of Council) in all situations where coverage is appropriate and is allowed. However, the Town’s current insurance policy does not cover consequences of intentional harmful acts, and does not cover acts done outside of one’s duties. If a person is found guilty, our insurance will not cover you. Fair enough!
In contrast, the Town’s new Indemnification By-law covers almost all costs. The exceptions are the payment of any damages, fines or costs awarded by a Court related to Criminal or Conflict of Interest matters. This exception applies only to employees and Councillors, but not “volunteers”. However, the exception does not apply to one’s own legal costs. Subject to these exceptions, the indemnification bylaw pays all costs regardless of the outcome as long as the act is deemed to be done in “good faith” and “in the course of one’s duties”. But who gets to make that decision? Council does! So we could break the law and be guilty as sin and all our own legal costs will be paid out of the peoples’ pocket. In addition, it appears that if someone through a guilty verdict or an unfavorable court finding faces a fine, an order to pay damages or pay the legal costs of the other party (with only a few exceptions as noted above) these costs, no matter how much, will be paid by the people too!
By definition of “Employee”, this bylaw covers all ex employees as long as the action occurred while he or she was an employee. It’s fairly clear to me that the by-law covers all previous employee’s legal fees to date and we still have ongoing cases. We’re even dealing with a counter suit for hundreds of thousands but through this new bylaw, the people will not only pay legal costs past, present and future, we’ll pay any judgment too! Of course this is as long as the majority of Council deems all actions as being in “good faith” and “in the course of one’s duties” at the time. Currently, there are several legal proceedings against members of council, employees, and volunteers. The Mayor is facing an ”Obstruct Justice” charge as well as a “Conflict of Interest” charge. Councillor Turner is currently fighting a “Conflict of Interest” charge. It seems to me both men could certainly benefit from this bylaw financially, as the by-law allows for payment of their legal fees (subject to a “good faith/ course of duties” decision by council).
As this bylaw has the potential to benefit all volunteers, employees and Councillors, to the detriment of the taxpayers, I felt very strongly that I had a pecuniary interest and therefore could not sit at the table during this discussion. If I did, I could be cited with a “conflict of interest” at anytime in the future. In my opinion, this bylaw financially assists Councillors. I couldn’t in good conscience sit and vote on it. My other issue with this bylaw is it passed all three readings in the very same night. This creates little chance for public input . When the issue arose at the end of the council meeting, I removed myself from the table refusing to take part in the discussion or the vote. Councillor Bowman followed then Councillor Standen joined us too. Councillor Thomas was absent. The bylaw unanimously passed with the remaining councillors.
(written by Councillor Janice Jackson – on http://www.jackson4saublebeach.com/ )