A former Innisfail town councillor is guilty of 29 of 36 code of conduct violations, an independent review concluded.
The town released on Wednesday executive summaries of the results of a pair of investigations into code of conduct allegations against Coun. Donnie Hill and former councillor Glen Carritt.
Last November, council approved the external, independent investigation of matters associated with council’s upholding of its code of conduct after concerns were raised about possible breaches.
SAGE Analytics consultants looked into Carritt’s actions in 14 different areas, including his role in anti-racism and freedom rallies. Other areas inolved such diverse topics as health restrictions and face coverings to a theatre group meeting and election campaign advertising.
Among his code of conduct breaches was “causing reputational damage to council and the community through his private affairs and protest involvement and supporting a local business opening in defiance of health restrictions.”
Carritt vocally supported Innisfail’s Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop, which opened for haircutting in violation of health restrictions at the time. He has also been behind a number of rallies calling on the government to life the business lockdown.
Consultants also said Carritt had a conflict of interest related to a land purchase, used a town email address in election campaign advertising and attempted to interfere with staff duties.
He is also guilty of “lacking attentiveness during council meeting due to cellphone use and of not upholding the “spirit and intent” of the code of conduct.
A defiant Carritt said in a statement that he is being punished for standing up for residents and exercising his right to free speech. He said he regrets stepping down as a councillor last month and vows to run for mayor in the fall election.
“They’ve been relentless,” Carritt says. “Council attempted to stop me from representing the people who elected me by trying to force me not to speak for them. That violates my duty to represent voters.”
Carritt criticized the investigation, saying it was based on unnamed sources and he was never given a full list of the allegations against him nor did he get a copy of the report before it was released publicly.
The investigation was an effort to silence dissenting opinions and council’s rebuke “comes from a misguided sense that any view contrary to the socially correct narrative being put forward should be silenced.”
Carritt said he represents people who want to be heard, which convinced him to run for mayor.
Former Alberta attorney general Jonathan Denis acts for Carritt and said there has been a “clear suppression of democracy” and that the Supreme Court has made it clear that free speech is particularly important in politics so voters can make an informed decision.
Denis says the accusations were “little more than personal political attacks” and “reeks of a back-door effort to discredit Mr. Carritt by his opponents.”
Since Carritt is no longer a councillor, no sanctions were recommended. Had he remained a councillor, SAGE says it would have recommended “strong sanctions” as a result of the “number and serious nature” of the conduct breaches.
The town also released an executive summary of the review of allegations that Hill, who is facing a sexual assault allegation among other serious charges, had breached council’s code of conduct.
Hill denies the allegations and none of the accusations have been tested in court. Hill is due to go to trial in January 2022.
The consultants concluded Hill breached the code of conduct “due to the shaken public confidence in him as an elected official and the reputational damage to council and the community due to Coun. Hill’s pending charges,” says the summary.
As punishment, Hill was kicked off council committees but will remain on council.