Nanaimo council is expected to go behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss results of an investigation into workplace complaints by chief administrative officer Tracy Samra and next steps.
The move comes after a link to a video of an alleged physical assault of Samra by former city councillor Wendy Pratt was sent to the media on Monday with a news release that shared information about the investigation and an incident where Samra was allegedly assaulted by Pratt.
Pratt resigned earlier this year, triggering a July 8 byelection. It’s unclear who sent the news release, but it came just days after city council received an in-camera report July 26 from consultants hired by the city to investigate Samra’s workplace complaints.
The work by consultant Roslyn Goldner began after Samra was allegedly physically assaulted, according to the news release which quotes Samra as saying she filed a complaint after the Feb. 27 incident “so there would be a mechanism for this to stop and to get Mayor [Bill] McKay to stop targeting me.”
The news release also claims the consultant confirmed the conduct of McKay and councillors Diane Brennan and Wendy Pratt has created a hostile work environment for the CAO which cannot be confirmed as the report remains in-camera.
McKay denied that he’s targeted Samra and said the release’s comments about his and councillors conduct is inaccurate.
He also said, of the video, that he’d suggest there was a much larger meeting that took place and it’s not known what happened before and after the seven seconds. He had not been at the meeting where the video was taken.
“The alleged assault has been reviewed by the RCMP and the crown prosecutor and it’s my understanding the case is closed so releasing it at this time seems odd to me,” he said.
Coun. Gord Fuller said he believes the consultant’s whole report should be released, but that everybody involved, including the initiator and respondent, must agree and he claims the respondents have not agreed.
Fuller said he was a “little bit disappointed” in the results of the investigation.
“I believe the person doing the report came to a different definition of bullying and harassment and wasn’t really looking at our policy per se,” he said, adding if details are released, people can make their own decision.
Samra also said in the release that she made “unprofessional comments” that were overheard outside the boardroom when the consultant’s report was released to council last week.
“I apologize to those who heard my remarks,” she said.
According to Victor Mema, deputy CAO, complaints have been made by city staff to the human resources about Samra’s comments and those complaints are being reviewed and investigated by human resources. He could not say what Samra’s comments were because the matter is currently being looked into.
Fuller and McKay both confirmed council is expected to discuss the report and next steps at an in-camera meeting tomorrow.
“There was stuff that was recommended in the report and then we will make further recommendations if need be,” said Fuller, who’d like to see a public apology, at the minimum, from McKay and others.
Samra did not return requests for an interview and has been on medical leave since last Wednesday. The release says she expects to remain on leave while council considers the report findings and what steps can be taken to address the “toxic work environment.”