Olds councillor breaches council code of conduct, investigation determines

Olds Coun. Mitch Thomson. (Contributed photo)

Olds town council has voted to sanction Coun. Mitch Thomson regarding a Facebook post he made in June.

Jaymie Pytel of Kingsgate Legal in Edmonton conducted an independent investigation into three council code of conduct complaints lodged this summer.

“The (Facebook) post clearly violates the code requirements to act in good faith and serve the interest of the municipality as a whole, to respect council’s decisions, and violates the conflict of interest requirement to not act or appear to act in order to gain financial or other benefits for himself or his employer,” Pytel said in her findings.

“Well before the June 12 social media post, Coun. Thomson knew of his obligations under the code, in particular with respect to conflict of interest. This was discussed with him when he first joined council in January and then again it was thoroughly discussed at the council orientation session held on May 12, 2020.”

In the post Thomson said, “I understood that as long as I did not participate in matters that could benefit or impact my employer, I would not be in a conflict of interest,” according to Pytel.

This leaves the impression that Thomson intentionally breached the code, Pytel added.

Council held a closed session on July 6 to ask Thomson to take down the Facebook post in question and to apologize publicly before formal complaints were filed for breaching the code of conduct, which he refused to do.

Following the investigation and obtaining legal advice, council voted to sanction Thomson, which means that he will lose his spot in this coming year’s deputy mayor rotation and he will receive a letter of reprimand, which will be written by council to Thomson.

Council noted this independent investigation has cost the taxpayers of Olds approximately $27,000.

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