(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

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read