With two separate Integrity Commissioner Reports involving him, Coun. Andrew Stevens said he is ready to follow council’s will.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council will discuss and vote on recommendations regarding reports from the City of Regina’s Integrity and Alternate Integrity Commissioners.
The first report concerns Coun. Stevens and Coun. Dan LeBlanc’s pursuit of a court application against City Manager Niki Anderson, seeking to compel her to include a $24.9 million line item into the proposed 2023 City of Regina budget.
“The Integrity Commissioner dismissed a vast majority of the charges laid against us by the complainants and really came down to a particular section of the code of ethics,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, the charge here is that we cared more about an issue, and that is ending homelessness and putting a proper line item in the budget, than we were about the decorum.”
As for the recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner, it was recommended that an apology is issued from both Stevens and LeBlanc to the City Manager as well as a possible reprimand for the councillors.
It was noted that a motion passed back in December where council expressed disappointment over the negative impact on the city council’s operational integrity and oversight that the lawsuit created would be deemed a sufficient reprimand, something Stevens agrees with.
“The Integrity Commissioner ultimately concludes that we were already reprimanded in December; I’d say that reprimand lingered on into the new year, unnecessarily with the effort to remove Dan LeBlanc from committees.”
“I can certainly say if anybody was harmed personally or otherwise, by these actions, it’s certainly not the intention.” Stevens continued referencing the apology. “It’s purely a political interest in getting homelessness on a budget. I certainly feel for the City Manager and anybody else who was negatively affected; however, as the Integrity Commissioner makes clear, there was no personal disrespect. There was no evidence of the action being considered bullying and harassment.”
Despite the fallout from the lawsuit, Stevens adds that he had no regrets over filing the lawsuit.
The second report filed against Stevens is for disclosing a Confidential Report. Within minutes of receiving the email with the report, Stevens used the “Reply to All” function to send his own email in response. In doing so, he was responding to all members of City Council, as well as the Acting City Clerk, acting City Manager, and the City Solicitor.
“It certainly was an error of judgment and a misunderstanding of how the confidentiality component of the Code of Ethics functions,” Stevens said. “It never dawned on me that breaching confidentiality would include sharing information with the city solicitor. I’ll certainly talk about the nature of my concerns when it comes to council on Wednesday. That was a lapse of judgment.”
Councillor Terina Nelson issued the complaint because she felt there was an issue regarding the breach of confidentiality.
Stevens is suspect of Nelson’s reasons for filing the complaint.
“This was an incident that took place in 2022. My personal opinion, you’re going to hear another story at council, is that Coun. Nelson has a bit of a grudge,” he said. “Not surprisingly, she’s using this as a vindictive expression against me. Fine, I’ll admit to the wrongdoing. I’ve already apologized to her. In fact, they did it shortly after this took place.”
“I thought we had actually built a working relationship, and if you recall, Coun. Nelson spoke about how we had built a bridge over any kind of interpersonal conflict that we had. Obviously, that’s not the case, and out of the blue, in the new year, she decided to launch a code of ethics complaint against me.”
As for issuing an apology, Stevens said it would be tough for him to apologize twice to Coun. Nelson.
“I’d say the last several weeks, she has used social media to say things that were untrue about me, and I actually feel for her. I’m not offended by those statements. This is a very unnecessary and vindictive approach to dealing with a colleague, and it’s going to be a real struggle for me to actually feel remorse and to issue an apology.”
“What I put on that piece of paper is going to be really reflective of what I think, and I will really struggle to write some flimsy apology if I don’t have any remorse,” he continued.
He said, overall, it was an innocent mistake.
The Integrity Commissioners’ reports are another item in a long list of council drama. Stevens said while he hopes this will be the end, he isn’t optimistic that the drama at City Hall is ending.
“I don’t see how this is going to resolve anything it possibly could if there was a sincere interest in it. It could have been settled.”
“If we’re thinking about Coun. Nelson’s complaint, if you look at the Integrity Commissioner report, I actually asked if you would put on the table an opportunity for some kind of facilitated session where we would work on our working relationship. Coun. Nelson has rejected that call.”
Despite the drama, Stevens said he believes it hasn’t impacted councils’ ability to work together to pass important items.
“I’d say, for the most part, the business of council continues. You’ll see that there are stacks upon stacks of reports, motions, and issues that we’re going to decide upon, and I’m almost certain that most of them are going to be received with unanimous support in one fashion or another.”
“To the public, it’s pretty messy, and I sympathize. In actuality, the city continues to move forward, and I think we’ve been able to make some pretty progressive changes as a city as a whole on this council,” he continued. “I certainly wish things would get better. But you know, that takes a group to want to mend that relationship.”
Both reports will be presented to City Council on Wednesday.