I attended the June 19, 2018 meeting of Haldimand County Council out of curiosity, and was surprised at one of the items on the agenda: a report to council on an ethics complaint against Mayor Ken Hewitt.

Even more interesting than the report was Councillor Leroy Bartlett’s reaction to it. He tore off on a rant accusing some members of the public of “frivolously, stupidly, idiotically” laying ethics complaints against members of Haldimand County Council. A few minutes later Bartlett apologized for his inappropriate language, but he did not apologize for his error of fact. I wonder if he is even aware of it.

According to the county’s Code of Conduct and Complaint Protocol for Members of Council, once a complaint has been filed, if the ethics commissioner determines that it is “frivolous, vexatious, or not made in good faith,” the commissioner is to terminate the complaint. That did not happen in this case.

The fact that the ethics commissioner proceeded to a full investigation proves that he thought it was reasonable for a citizen to wonder if it was unethical for a mayor to be living in a house that belongs to a developer active in the mayor’s municipality. His conclusion was that it is not unethical if the mayor is paying market value rent, as Hewitt convinced the ethics commissioner he was doing.

Councillor Bartlett was right to apologize for his use of the insulting words ‘stupidly’ and ‘idiotically,’ but he needs to be held accountable for his error of fact, too : the complaint was not frivolous.

David McClung, Cayuga