Councillor apologises


Councillor Deb Wilson issued an apology to a resident at a recent council meeting following a complaint against her to the Municipality’s Integrity Commissioner. The Commissioner’s report centred on two comments Councillor Wilson made which, he found, violated the Code of Conduct for members of council. The Times has been asked specifically by the Complainant to comment on the issue.

Deb Wilson

The Report noted that of the many complaints made, none were found to be in breach of the Code aside from two sentences, which, it was decided, were “demeaning communications to a member of the public that were disrespectful… While we find there was a breach, the comments made by the Councillor are not so severe that a financial penalty or reprimand is warranted”. The Commissioner also pointed out that the comments were made in “a private message exchange between the Councillor and the Complainant”. The recommendation was that Councillor Wilson apologise to the Complainant “to restore public confidence in Council and to make reparation for the impact the comments may have had on the Complainant”.

The context for the comments is important, naturally. The complainant posted a public complaint about the cost of hospital parking while his wife was sick in the hospital. There were many comments that weighed in on the conversation, to give the complainant advice, including from Councillor Wilson, and the two later had a private message exchange. Councillor Wilson wrote: “You are always blaming someone else for your problems”. This was the first statement found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct. The full message was less judgmental: “You are always blaming someone else for your problems – I get it… I’m so sorry for your wife’s health struggles. If you need help to pay a parking pass reach out. But don’t keep slamming society… Don’t undo the good that you have already done.”

The Complainant’s response to this offer was: “Wow. You are very childish for an old person. Don’t talk to me ever again”. It was to this that Councillor Wilson replied: “Lol you didn’t even read it… You need help”. This was her second comment that was found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct, although how it could be read that way is difficult to understand, given the Complainant’s insulting comment that preceded it.

The general context is important also. The Complainant was a candidate in the provincial election last year, and Councillor Wilson’s comments included the statement: “If you are thinking about running for any elected careful”. That is why she warned him about being so public in placing blame on others. In any event, he lost that election. He wanted to be appointed to Council to replace Jim McManaman, but submitted his application late, and Deb Wilson was given the position.

He ran for Council in the Municipal election in October, and that is when he began to talk openly about referring Deb Wilson to the Integrity Commissioner. He lost that election also, and afterwards renewed his complaint against Councillor Wilson. It is somewhat concerning that the Commissioner’s Report quoted only selected portions of the exchanges quoted above. The two sentences involved in the complaint were not quoted fully or in context. The fact that they were part of a private conversation, is also concerning, raising questions about the restrictions on freedom of speech for elected representatives in private contexts.

The Complainant should possibly be thankful that he did not succeed in his electoral efforts. Public figures need a thicker skin and, as Councillor Wilson informed him, need to be careful not to be so obviously angry and ageist in their remarks. His comment about Ms. Wilson – “You are very childish for an old person” – does not sit well coming from a white man in his thirties speaking about an older woman. It is in keeping with one he made about another older couple: “He’s just an angry old man with an even angrier wife”. The Complainant suggested the Times should ask him for a comment on this, but, in spite of his claim that “I have successfully demonstrated an impeccable reputation”, his actual reputation is that he and the truth have a very distant relationship, as proved during the past year in comments about this newspaper.

I hope he is now satisfied that his apparently fragile ego has been soothed somewhat by Councillor Wilson’s apology. It is, perhaps, more than he deserves based on the evidence. The report of the Integrity Commissioner, based as it is on very selective material, is probably all the sympathy he could expect from a “very childish old person”.



  1. It seems to me you have used soeone else’s circumstances to piggy on to say “Don’t make a negative comment on the Times or I will gun you down in the press”.

  2. Mr. Wilson has shown, repeatedly, that he is very vindictive when he feels that he has been wronged or slighted…even slightly. In the tradition of some right- wing politicians to our south, he never apologizes– he doubles down with even more insulting, unflattering verbal garbage that has no place in civil discourse. Sadly, these paragon of all that is offensive in our society don’t go away…like an STD, they just keep coming back. He’ll keep himself in the public eye, looking to the next election to exact some revenge. I, personally want my representatives to have more integrity than that…otherwise, like Mr. Wilson, they’d be unfit to serve.

  3. If this article is meant to fill in the context of the escalation of an argument that I know both parties regret, some missing background is that the sick wife the ‘complainant’ was visiting died shortly after. At the time I am sure that Mr. Wilson felt as if the additional fees were a slap in the face even though rationally we all know that additional hospital fees are the way of the world here in Ontario (I have felt the same after terrible times at hospitals). Under the circumstances it would have been best for Ms. Wilson not to have engaged. Context is all.

  4. This community needs EMPATHY. Throwing fuel on the fire will aggravate the negativity and divides this community. I had the opportunity to meet Chris Wilson’s wife in my kitchen a few years ago. We talked about the disease she was struggling with and I was deeply sorrowed when I found out that she lost her battle with MS. In addition, my heart went out to Chris Wilson during his time of grieving the loss of his wife. What happened since then? A lot of “Mud-Slinging” in this paper, rather than finding an acceptable positive empathetic solution.
    Those who purchased the Book: ”Kemptville College, A Historical Picture, 1916-2016” and read my introduction, learned that I would not be at the Kemptille College of Agricultural Technology, as a lecturer, if it was not because of the kindness of others, who crossed my life’s path and directed my future career. They were all politicians: Victor Copps, the Mayor of Hamilton, William Atcheson Stewart, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, and Dr. Clayton Macfie Switzer, Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College and Ontario Deputy Minister of Agriculture. They showed their kindness for my well-being, and my ambitions to create a better Environment, which I brought into action by sharing my Empathy and my knowledge with the many farmers and gardeners in Eastern Ontario, so that we all can be successful and prosperous. I had a discussion about Empathy with a retired Reeve last year and we agreed that listening skills are missing. Even today, I stay in touch with a few of my former students.
    I purchased the book “Empathy”, a book about learning to be empathetic and then turning that empathy into action. Based on the personal experiences of author the Honorable David Johnston, Canada’s former Governor General. His book explores how awakening to the transformative power of listening and caring permanently changes individuals, families, communities, and nations.
    Take a Hint

  5. April 14, 2023 at 10:14 am
    This is certainly a complex issue that has been made more complex by the insertion of emotions and personalities. Everyone needs to start by looking at ” Code of Conduct for Council Members”
    The “Code” allows anyone to register a complaint to a committee consisting of the Mayor, CAO, and the Clerk. They have the authority to either dismiss the complaint or forward it on to the “North Grenville Integrity Commissioner” for further determination. The Commissioner can dismiss the complaint if he believes it lacks merit or carry out an investigation. In this particular case the Commissioner decided the complaint had sufficient merit to carry out an investigation of the complaint. This investigation led the Commissioner to come to the conclusion that the Councilor in question violated the “Code of Conduct for Council Members”. As outlined in the “Code” the Commissioner was then required to report his findings and recommendations to Council. According to the “Code of Conduct” it is the Council that determines what sanctions if any are necessary. In this case the Commissioner reported to Council that the Counselor in question had violated the “Code of Conduct ” and recommended to Council they should request the Councilor in question make a public apology to the complainant. Based on the Commissioner’s report the Councilor in question elected on their own to make the recommended public apology to the complainant.

    If you have issues with this ruling I would suggest rather than defending or attacking individuals it would be more productive to challenge the policies and procedures that guided the decision making process. In my opinion it makes more sense to request that Council and the Integrity Commissioner review, amend or validate the policies and procedures currently contained in the “‘Code of Conduct for Council Members”.


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