By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
KIPPENS – On Nov. 18, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs (MNL) released the results of the investigation into the harassment complaints against former Mayor Debbie Brake-Patton. In the Special Investigation Report, MNL concluded that the behaviour displayed by Brake-Patton was consistent with workplace harassment and bullying towards the complainant.
“The conclusions and recommendations of that report are consistent with other actions that have been taken over the past number of years to try to address complaints and issues. This includes an inspection by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers, mediation services, tailored training for council, several OHS orders to the town, and an independent investigation, which concluded that the actions of the mayor constituted harassment of staff. This was not a decision taken lightly by the Department. It does reflect the seriousness of the situation.”
Council nominations took place on Nov. 10, over a week before the decision, and Brake-Patton’s campaign signs were noticeably absent.
“The nomination of the individual is now void,” stated MNL in response to further inquiry. “Under legislation, if an individual is dismissed, they are not eligible to run in an election, including the nomination process for a period of two years after the date of dismissal.”
The investigation’s conclusion after the nominations did not sit well with some voters. John Hogan believes further review is necessary, as the removal of Brake-Patton does not resolve many issues that were already present on council.
“Like any other system, it is expected to work effectively and efficiently to produce the desired results. This did not occur in Kippens governance and produced notable errors with questionable judgment. Having this Special Investigation concluded is not going to resolve the governing body issues and challenges,” said Hogan. “Personally, I would like to see a special inquiry be conducted by a third party of peers to ensure a non-bias review can be done to produce a full and impartial report on the collapse of good governance for Kippens, so other communities can learn from these lessons as well.”
Debbie Brake-Patton has remained largely silent, but did issue the following statement.
“It is at this time I will address the residents of Kippens. I realize I have not made a public statement but please understand I have been working very hard to piece together what has happened to our beautiful town. I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the years but more importantly the last week,” said Brake-Patton. “Anyone who knows me will attest that I am a person of honesty and integrity. I take all leadership roles very seriously and am always willing to serve. This order has been devastating to myself, my family and the town. It would be remiss of me to stand by and allow my personal and professional reputation to be publicly destroyed. I chose to decline an interview with the media until I was fully informed and emotionally ready to speak. I am ready to do that now and I do so in an attempt to tell my story and protect both my reputation and hopefully the democratic rights of the people of Kippens.”
Brake-Patton has thus far declined to elaborate further for the time being. Meanwhile the town election was held on Nov. 30.
Mayor Mike Comerford has been elected, defeating rival Paul Noseworthy by 504 votes. The six elected councillors are Michelle MacIsaac, Julia Power, Carla Pearce, Regina Duffenais, Harold Doucette, and Jeffrey Young.