The Mayor for Ritchot says municipal officials from across the province have sent a clear message that disrespect towards council members will not be tolerated.
Association of Manitoba Municipalities held its 19th annual convention in Brandon last week. Delegates debated a number of resolutions including one on respect within the work environment.
Thanks to an overwhelming majority vote, AMM will now lobby the province to strengthen the powers of censuring when a council member is clearly in contravention of the Municipalities Code of Conduct. AMM will also lobby the province to allow Code of Conduct complaints to be heard by the Ombudsman who can make further recommendations to be implemented by a council resolution. And, AMM will lobby the province to include elected officials in the protections afforded by the Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act to ensure the same right to a safe work environment, free of harassment, bullying and intimidation.
The resolution is the result of what happened in the RM of Ritchot this spring when Mayor Jackie Hunt and two Councillors resigned due to name calling and belligerent behaviour at the council table. This led to council being dissolved due to lack of quorum and the election of a new council.
Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen says the AMM resolution had the support of about 91 percent of delegates, one of the highest totals for all resolutions.
"It was a resolution that all of council wanted to be a part of," he says. "We all stayed there to make sure that our votes were heard."
Ewen points out this is not a gender issue, but rather a workplace issue. He notes everyone should be treated fairly and no one should feel bullied by people wanting a different outcome.
"Both genders have been in this situation before," he says. "(Delegates) wanted to be specific that this wasn't a gender issue on workplace harassment, this was an equal opportunity for everyone to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace they were coming from. So that was a positive thing to hear."
Though it didn't get unanimous support, Ewen says not one person spoke against the resolution.
Meanwhile, this was the first AMM convention for the recently elected Mayor. Ewen says he took in a great workshop on exemplary leadership. He adds it was great to hear from NDP leader Wab Kinew and AMM President Chris Goertzen. Further to that, he says it was a wonderful opportunity for municipal officials to come together and fight for better municipal government.