On August 9th, The Current reported on Council’s discussion of the alleged death threat made by Councillor Ernie Peplinski during a public meeting. Since the story broke, we have attempted to ask Peplinski as well as Mayor Love and CAO Suzanne Klatt questions relating to the recording. We also sent them a transcript of the recording, including the death threat uttered by Peplinski towards Roger Paul, which was revealed to him by Councillor Carl Bromwich.
We asked Peplinski to identify the words in the transcript he says he did not use. We also asked him for examples of what he described as “fake news” and reminded him of our archive so he could send us what he believed were untrue stories. Peplinski has ignored our requests for clarification.
Love and Klatt have also declined to comment on the contents of the transcript.
The situation places Bromwich in the awkward position of being the first person to inform Paul of the threat against him (although he says he did know at the time that profanities were being directed at him), but his claim was essentially overridden by Mayor Love and Council, who do not appear to believe that a threat was made. Nor do they appear to believe the antics of an unhinged, sitting Councillor are important enough to take seriously.
Peplinski’s conduct took place during a public meeting but the consequences of his behaviour were decided in secret. Council apparently decided during an in camera session that providing Peplinski with “training” was the correct course of action. No additional details as to whether or not he has already received this training or what it consisted of have been provided. Nor has there been an explanation as to how Bromwich witnessing the alleged death threat weighed on Council’s decision to provide Peplinski with training as a way to remedy his temper and unprincipled behaviour. As Paul has not received an apology from Peplinski it must be assumed that he was not trained to apologize.
What is clear is that Peplinski’s conduct is a breach of Council’s Code of Conduct which would normally warrant an investigation by the Township’s Integrity Commissioner. Mayor Love seems to have a blind spot when it comes to reacting to improper conduct by members of her Council. (Click HERE to read.) She has “repeatedly” been reminded that S.223.4(1)(a) of the Municipal Act specifically makes provision for members of Council to also refer complaints to the Integrity Commissioner. As demonstrated in other Ontario Councils, many of the complaints to the Integrity Commissioner originate from councillors themselves who want to hold colleagues to account after perceived infractions of their municipality’s Code of Conduct. Mayor Love appears not to be in the business of making sure Council’s behaviour remains professional. She refused to respond even to the “unparliamentary conduct” by Peplinski in a way that shows she is serious about holding Council to an appropriate standard of conduct.
Paul says he reported the conduct to the OPP instead of complaining to the Integrity Commissioner because the inference of a potential criminal act by Peplinski would have forced the Integrity Commissioner to refer the matter to the OPP. Involving the Integrity Commissioner would have cost taxpayers money. Paul also says that he made it clear to the OPP that he was not interested in pressing charges, but would be content with a warning issued and a record of it made.
If the antics that have taken place in Madawaska Valley happened in a city like Ottawa or Toronto, resignations would have already been accepted. If a sitting councillor calls a member of the public a “fucking asshole” live during a public council meeting, he should either publicly apologize (Click HERE) or resign.