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Fort Macleod town council details ‘most’ reasons for sanctioning Mayor Rene Gendre

Town council made public a letter last week outlining its decision to continue sanctions of Mayor Rene Gendre.
Council presented the letter to Gendre Jan. 26 at the meeting at Fort Macleod RCMP Centennial Library.
“This is not by any means a full statement of all the issues,” Coun. Keith Trowbridge said. “There are others. There is more.”
Gendre wondered why any other issues were not included in the letter.
Coun. Mike Collar said some issues were discussed during the mediation sessions and a confidentiality agreement is in place.
“When we did our mediation some of the things that were discussed are issues we’re not allowed to bring out of the meeting and discuss in public,” Collar said.
Collar told Gendre council would be happy to make of the issues public.
“It would be really nice if we could but we’re bound not to,” Collar said.
Gendre asked if the issues arose before mediation started why they couldn’t be discussed in public.
“If you can get permission and want to bring them out, we would love to,” Collar said.
The letter provides background on council’s decision last June to suspend Gendre from boards and committees for six months and strip him of duties as chairman of meetings.
The letter also lays out steps council took to ensure Town of Fort Macleod business was conducted in “an orderly way” with councillors taking on more duties.
“These difficult decisions were not taken lightly and were the result of many private and in camera discussions with you, as well as much consultation with officials from Alberta Municipal Affairs,” the letter stated.
The letter continued that council was able to function more effectively once the sanctions were in place.
“Council was able to take action based on the direction of all of council,” the letter reads. “Municipal business was conducted in an open, transparent and responsive fashion. Council could engage with the public, stakeholders and others with the utmost respect and decorum.”
“In other words, the remaining members of council were able to accomplish the standard of ethical behaviours described in the town council covenant and meet their obligations as described in section 153 of the Municipal Government Act.”
The letter lists council’s successes following the sanctions, including a new strategic plan, a review of the town’s organizational structure and management, attendance at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference and developing interim operating and capital budgets.
“It is the hope that you will be a part of ongoing and future success achieved by this council,” the letter told Gendre.
“Unfortunately, during this period, council has not observed an improvement in the relationship between you and the rest of council,” the letter continued. “It has been the experience of the remainder of council and staff that your conduct has continued to create significant strain and tension.”
The letter refers to an agreement between council and the mayor on Nov. 17 to participate in mediation sponsored by Alberta Municipal Affairs.
“Council perceives that your participation in this process was not undertaken with a view to resolving the issues between yourself and the other members of council and administration.”
Council in its letter noted a decision Jan. 12 to extend the sanctions. At that time the mayor was given back his authority to call special meetings and sign by-laws.
“As with the initial decision of council, the decision to continue the sanctions was not taken lightly and the remaining members of council continue to be focused on the best interests of the town.”
Reasons for the sanctions include:

  • Gendre’s refusal to sign and adhere to the council covenant.
  • Gendre’s continued attendance at external committee meetings and events on behalf of the town following the sanctions.
  • Public attacks by Gendre on council members, administration and citizens. Examples cited were:
    • Gendre at a public meeting comparing the CAO’s writing ability to that of a Grade 3 student.
    •  Gendre thanking a member of the gallery at a meeting who stood up and berated a councillor.
    •  Gendre taking information from an in camera session and disclosing it out of context to a resident.
    •  Gendre disclosing confidential budget information from an in camera session.
    • Gendre’s public criticism of council.
    • Gendre falsely accusing Deputy Mayor Trish Hoskin of claiming at a Mayors and Reeves meeting that she planned to have Gendre removed so she could become the next mayor.
    • Gendre’s involvement in a petition promoting the removal of CAO David Connauton.
    • Gendre’s “continued” harassment of committees and organizations.
    • Gendre incurring legal costs without consulting council on issues and then asking that the town pay the bills.
    • Gendre acting on his own to reactivate the Fort Macleod Historical Area Society.
    • Gendre telling a real estate agent hired by the town that “council is dysfunctional.”
    • Gendre making continued visits to businesses to criticize council.
    • Genre having “inappropriate” contact with Town of Fort Macleod staff.
  • Writing letters on behalf of the town without council’s approval.
  • Interfering with legal action taken by the Town of Fort Macleod.
  • Continued requests for recorded votes.
  • Lack of support and respect for council functions.

“Council members are committed to finding a solution to the current impasse and are willing to continue with a mediation process to reach a settlement for the removal of some or all of the imposed restrictions on the mayor.”
Conditions for that to happen include:

  • Gendre agreeing to conduct himself in accordance with the Municipal Government Act, putting the welfare of Fort Macleod ahead of his own personal agenda or beliefs.
  • Gendre withdrawing legal action against the town and councillors.
  • Gendre adhering to the council covenant.
  • The mayor making a public apology to council, Connauton and Fort Macleod citizens, acknowledging the reasons for the sanctions.
  • Gendre demonstrating a significant change in conduct and behaviour and providing details of how he plans to build trust with council and citizens.