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Wasaga deputy mayor says she’ll still ask tough questions

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In Council Watch
Feb 23rd, 2017
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Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi

Nina Bifolchi says she’s following her obligations to represent residents

By Ian Adams Wasaga Sun
Wasaga’s deputy mayor says she’ll continue to ask questions in the best interests of the community, even if the answers prove to be embarrassing.

In a statement issued Feb. 22 in response to council’s final decision not to levy sanctions against her as a result of a report from integrity commissioner Robert Swayze, Nina Bifolchi said her objective is to “bring you an open and transparent municipal government.”

“As the deputy mayor I have an obligation to ask questions, be informed and vote in what I believe to be the best interest of the residents and community. I don’t believe there are embarrassing questions, but sometimes embarrassing answers,” she wrote.

Bifolchi was the subject of an investigation by the integrity commissioner following complaints by Andrew McNeill, the town’s director of economic development and tourism.

Swayze determined Bifolchi did not violate the town’s code of conduct, though he cautioned her against further public criticism of McNeill.

While Coun. Bonnie Smith promised there would be sanctions against Bifolchi, council’s committee of the whole decided not to impose a penalty, a route that had also been recommended by Swayze. That decision was ratified at council’s Feb. 21 meeting.

In her statement, Bifolchi said she looked forward to the “return of respect and professionalism at the council table, even when opinions are expressed by the minority.”

“For anyone to get angry or upset that council doesn’t vote unanimous on every issue is ridiculous,” she stated, an indirect reference to comments by Coun. Bill Stockwell that she and Coun. Sylvia Bray were being obstructionist in opposing items such as the beachfront management corporation. “I, like most Canadians, believe in democracy.

“In my opinion, attempts to silence, shame and attack my integrity publicly were unsuccessful and have only made me stronger. I’m confident the residents are well aware of what’s been going on.”

She also thanked the public for the continued support, and encouraged residents to “stay engaged in the activities and decisions of your town council.”

Statement by Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi:

“I am pleased to continue to serve you as your Deputy Mayor. My objective will be to continue to bring you an open and transparent municipal government.
As the Deputy Mayor I have an obligation to ask questions, be informed and vote in what I believe to be the best interest of the residents and community. I don’t believe there are embarrassing questions … but sometimes embarrassing answers.
Despite the Integrity Commissioner’s decision to not find a breach of the code of conduct or recommend any sanctions, Councillor Bonnie Smith was adamant at the Jan. 24, 2017 council meeting that council would meet within 30 days and that sanctions would be imposed against me.
Councillor Stockwell has said that I “attacked” a staff member. To quote the Councillor “this can be put to bed tonight with a simple apology and I would suggest that the Deputy Mayor give that apology, if not then we have to bring it back within 30 days and it’s only going to get progressively worse.” I encourage residents to visit my website www.ninabifolchi.ca for links to video footage whereby this alleged attack occurred during the Oct. 25, 2016 council meeting.
Council confirmed at the Feb. 21, 2017 council meeting acceptance of the Integrity Commissioner report and despite councillors’ unjustified rhetoric, no sanctions were imposed against me.
I look forward to the return of respect and professionalism at the council table even when opinions are expressed by the minority. For anyone to get angry or upset that council doesn’t vote unanimous on every issue is ridiculous. I, like most Canadians believe in democracy.
In my opinion, attempts to silence, shame and attack my integrity publicly, were unsuccessful and have only made me stronger. I’m confident the residents are well aware of what’s been going on. I wish to publicly thank you for your continued support during this term of council and encourage you to stay engaged in the activities and decisions of your Town Council.”

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