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HomeNewsIntegrity Commissioner Rules Councillor Ron Ashmore Seriously Breached Code Of Conduct

Integrity Commissioner Rules Councillor Ron Ashmore Seriously Breached Code Of Conduct

KAWARTHA LAKES-The Integrity Commissioner for the City of Kawartha Lakes found the circumstances surrounding Councillor Ron Ashmore’s breaches of the Code of Conduct were “troubling and serious”.

Ashmore found himself under investigation after attempting to intervene while a bylaw officer was questioning a staff member of Emerald Green Landscaping in Lindsay on June 12th 2021.

“All I did was go there and help the guy, I didn’t try to interfere with the investigation at all.” Ashmore told Kawartha 411 News. “I cannot believe they went after me, it’s not right. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime, I go there and do my work and do my best and I cannot believe how they all jump on the bandwagon.” 

The Integrity Commissioners report says a City of Kawartha Lakes by-law officer was on-site at Emerald Green pursuant to a complaint received by the City regarding a sign. The bylaw officer was questioning an employee, Zach Bradbury, regarding the sign.

The commissioner says in all probability bylaw was more aggressive than might have been necessary.

“I make this finding based primarily on the evidence of the independent witness, Zach Bradbury, who I found to be truthful and who said he felt uncomfortable with the discussion. I can appreciate this because as an employee he would not have the knowledge that the owner of the business would have and it is understandable that he might be concerned about inadvertently saying something inaccurate,” stated Commissioner Charles A Harnik.

While the bylaw officer and Mr Bradbury were speaking, Councillor Ashmore arrived at Emerald Green. Ashmore claims he saw the heated interaction and approached the pair to help de-escalate the situation. The report states he offered to assist Mr Bradbury, told him he sits on the By-Law Appeals Committee and told him quite clearly what he thought the by-law officer should (and should not) be doing.

According to the report Councillor, Ashmore suggested that the bylaw officer should be investigating signs elsewhere and not investigating a sign at Emerald Green, a new business. According to the evidence Ashmore was polite at all times and although he had to be asked to leave two or three times by the bylaw officer, he ultimately complied with the request to do so.

Harnik found Ashmore was interfering with the way the officer was doing their job.

“He deliberately intervened in an ongoing investigation where he had no business being involved. His intervention was seriously wrong, and I cannot emphasize strongly enough the danger to our democracy when elected officials attempt to intervene in an ongoing justice enforcement matter,” states the report. “I find Councillor Ashmore’s actions were deliberate, undermining, and made without care and good faith in recognizing and understanding the importance of the bylaw enforcement officer’s impartial role.”

Ashmore’s legal counsel said he accepts the factual findings of the commissioner but disputes the recommended sanction of forfeiting one month’s salary. Councillor Ashmore suggested a penalty of an apology by the Councillor, a reprimand, and training on the essential separation between Council Members and municipal law enforcement officers for all members of Council or just Councillor Ashmore.

Harnik rejected that and stood by his recommendation.

“One of the hallmarks of our democracy is the fact that peace officers are not influenced in carrying out their duties by elected officials. Elected officials make our laws and peace officers apply these laws independently and without political influence or interference. Councillor Ashmore’s actions crossed the line and are deserving of punishment.”

Council decided on suspended pay for two weeks.

“The system is being abused. It wasn’t fraud or harassment. How much did this cost the taxpayers?” stated Ashmore.

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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