Efforts made by Wheatland County Coun. Rick Laursen to make information public regarding a code of conduct violation complaint against him have once again been defeated by council.

During the opening minutes of the June 6 regular meeting of council, Laursen motioned for the in-camera item regarding Mike Kozial of Transitional Solutions Inc. to be moved to open session.

“This matter is about me and I believe that I have that right. There is nothing that can come out of this that I would be uncomfortable having the public and/ or municipal affairs aware of,” he said. “What I am being accused of is attending a Wheatland Regional Partnership meeting as a ratepayer and not as a councillor, which is reflected in the minutes of the meeting where I had no voice or vote, (and) is not something that should be hidden from the public.”

This is not the first time Laursen has attempted to make information regarding the accusation and investigation to be public knowledge. 

A similar motion regarding an in-camera item concerning the FOIP act, section 17 – Disclosure Harmful to Personal Privacy, Councillor Code of Conduct, made during the Nov. 1, 2022 regular meeting of council, was also defeated.

That, at the time had prompted Laursen to seek legal advice about the investigation into him regarding his conduct. 

“The investigator has refused on more than one occasion to provide his qualifications as an investigator, and the public has a right to know this. I have this refusal both in writing and verbally to prove this,” added Laursen. “The investigation is complete, so no new information will be presented. The ratepayers of Wheatland County deserve to know what is going on. I am willing to have this discussed in public, and unless some councillors do not want the public to know what is happening, there is no reason to have this matter in camera.”

Deputy Reeve Scott Klassen disagreed with the motion, insisting the matter remain confidential and in camera, as is standard procedure according to county bylaws.

County administration cited bylaw 202205 that should code of conduct violation complaints arise, it “always has been” and remains standard procedure for the information to be presented in camera prior to council deliberation as to whether the complaint and investigation should be made public. 

No further justification nor discussion was made on the motion prior to council’s vote, ultimately defeating the motion. 

The matter remains in camera and confidential, and no information regarding the complaint, investigation or presented report to council has been made to be available publicly. 

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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