(PQB File Photo)

(PQB File Photo)

Qualicum Beach council probe finds no evidence of discrimination or harassment

Review undertaken after Coun. Robert Filmer took leave of absence citing ‘toxic’environment

A third-party investigation, following a leave of absence taken by Qualicum Beach Coun. Robert Filmer, has found no evidence of discrimination, bullying or harrassment.

In December 2020, Filmer publicly announced he was taking a two-month leave from council, citing a “toxic” environment. In his statements to media, he indicated his leave was a result of what he believed to be age and sexual orientation discrimination.

The town immediately initiated the third-party investigation. The goal, according to a town press release issued Feb. 9, was to independently and impartially examine the allegations through a series of interviews, a review of written evidence, video evidence, policy and law.

Later on Feb. 9, Filmer issued a statement that called the release “extremely misleading” and added it only tells “part of the story.”

RELATED: Qualicum Beach councillor takes medical leave, citing ‘toxic’ town hall environment

“Harassment, bullying and/or discrimination of any kind is a serious matter and must not be tolerated in the workplace, at any level of government or in society as a whole,” said Mayor Brian Wiese via the release.

The investigators released their findings which determined there is “no evidence of discrimination, bullying or harassment as described by policy or law.”

However, it also concludes communication has been strained and misunderstandings have been prevalent between council members during the past two years.

Wiese and councillors Filmer, Scott Harrison and Teunis Westbroek unanimously voted at an in-camera meeting on Feb. 8 to issue the public statement, including a release of the summary of findings. The release also indicated council has also encouraged Filmer to write a public apology.

“We welcome the return of Coun. Filmer to serving the people of Qualicum Beach,” said Wiese.

In his own statement, Filmer said he “stands firm in his belief that bullying and harassment have no place in any workplace.”

After reading the report, “it became clear to me that some of my fellow councillors gave a pattern of facts that does not square with my notes or memory,” said Filmer. “Therefore, I was pleased to vote for the release of the investigator’s report because I am more than happy to have a full discussion with the public about this important issue.”

Filmer added it is “also apparent that certain questions were posed to other staff and council members but not to me, which leads me to question the conclusions reached in the investigation.”

“Furthermore, it is not lost on me that council is choosing to ignore how I felt when inappropriate comments were made to me. Instead of dealing with this issue in a forthright and transparent manner, an extremely misleading press release was distributed that only tells part of the story,” he said. “It worries me that complications like these may make it even harder for others to bring forward their concerns about workplace bullying and harassment in the future. Instead of initiating a candid conversation about how things can be improved, I feel that council is now engaging in victim shaming, which is patently unacceptable.”

Filmer said he looks forward to “resuming my work for the people of Qualicum Beach when these issues have been resolved, and I am grateful for all my supporters who continue to stand behind me throughout this process.”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

qualicum beach

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Ellie and Mike Hadley of Port Alberni will open Maehem Spirits distillery in a new building on Cherry Creek Road later in 2021. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
BUSINESS BEAT: Businesses are all about lifting spirits in the Alberni Valley

New distillery coming to Port Alberni, and more news from the business community

Wilma Walker is a longtime Alberni Valley volunteer with Community Policing. She is well known for her teaching career as well. (PHOTO COURTESY ORLANDO DELANO)
VALLEY SENIORS: Wilma Walker brings giving spirit to Port Alberni

Walker enjoys her volunteer time in the Alberni Valley

Cars depart from the Guru Nanak Sikh Society in Port Alberni during a rally on Feb. 21, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni Sikh community shows support for farmers in India

Car parade departed from the Guru Nanak Sikh Society

Isha Rai, age nine, raised more than $3,000 for Coldest Night of the Year in Port Alberni. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Nine-year-old raises $3K for Coldest Night of the Year

Port Alberni’s Isha Rai was highest-earning participant in annual fundraiser

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes COVID-19 death count hits four

Second doses of Pfizer vaccine expected on March 8 as community count hits 230 since Dec. 31

Most Read