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Stouffville council finds Mayor Justin Altmann broke ethics code again
No punishment was delivered because there was little punishment available to be delivered after previous sanction. Altmann said he is seeking a judicial review.

June 6, 2018
Simon Martin

It was déjà vu at Whitchurch-Stouffville council chambers June 5. For the third time in nine months the town’s integrity commissioner was on hand to offer their report that Mayor Justin Altmann broke the town’s code of conduct.

There were some minor differences. Out was old integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig and in was new integrity commissioner Jeff Abrams.

The two incidents revolved around Altmann’s boycott of the New Year’s Eve fireworks and his statement at a Chamber of Commerce event that two town staff members broke into his office.

The punishment was different only because there wasn’t much punishment left for council to dole out. Altmann has already been docked seven months' pay and is also no longer allowed to talk to town staff after multiple breaches of the town’s code of conduct for his bathroom wall, refusal to apologize to town staff and disclosure of in-camera information.

Council passed a motion to reprimand the mayor for his multiple breaches of the code of conduct but there were no new notable sanctions. Abrams did suggest the mayor offer a heartfelt reconciliation to staff who he has publicly and unjustly criticized. 

No apology was coming. In fact, Altmann’s lawyer said the mayor is seeking a judicial review of all the integrity commissioner rulings against him. Altmann said that a judicial review will give him an opportunity to offer a fulsome reply to the complaints levied against him.

Councillors were left unsatisfied with the predicament they found themselves in.

“I ask, if there is no punishment why are their rules?” Ward 4 Coun. Rick Upton said.

Ward 5 Coun. Iain Lovatt was at a loss for words and could only muster a sentence. “This is just a horrible place to be,” he said.

The only councillor not to vote in favour of reprimanding the mayor was Ward 6 Coun. Rob Hargrave, who said council has not focused on the cause. “Why did the wall get put up?” he said.

Back in December, Altmann let it be known on Facebook that he would not attend the town’s New Year’s Eve fireworks event at Memorial Park.

“In light of the ongoing litigation against a number of our residents and a member of our town council, the blatant disregard for my repetitive concerns for our community have been snubbed off. This is why both Jenny and I will not be participating in this New Year's event,” Altmann said on Facebook.

The reference was in regard to ongoing litigation United Soils Management had launched in the community against local residents Katie Mohammed and Kayt Barclay.  Tiny Seedlings was the sponsor of the fireworks event and helped host the event alongside the town. Tiny Seedlings is a community initiative from United Soils.

The integrity commissioner found Altmann breached the code by campaigning against attendance at the New Year’s event and making public criticism of staff administration of the event and their solicitation of sponsorships, which did not follow the will of council.

The report also found that Altmann asserted that named staff broke into his office when they did not, thus impugning their personal, professional and ethical reputations.