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Niagara Region mayor docked pay for ‘inappropriate’ message to female constituent

The mayor of West Lincoln, Ont., Dave Bylsma has been summoned to appear in court after speaking at an anti-lockdown protest in St. Catharines on April 10, 2021. Niagara Region

A Niagara Region mayor will be docked pay after councillors voted in favour of the punishment in connection with an ‘inappropriate’ message sent to a constituent in May.

West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma’s pay is set to be suspended for seven days for allegedly asking a Niagara woman in May if she had her period following a COVID-19 vaccination.

The sanction comes months after a local interim integrity commissioner Michael Maynard recommended the reprimand, suggesting that Byslma’s text reply was “arguably insulting” and “irresponsible.”

Read more: Niagara chair says West Lincoln mayor’s message to female constituent ‘inappropriate’

Prior to Thursday night’s vote, Bylsma claimed the message was sent after constituents made him aware of concerns over women’s health that may be tied to the vaccines.

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“I am encouraged that today there are many studies showing a connection between the various vaccines and hemorrhaging in women as well as infertility and a very disturbing study in the New England Journal of Medicine related to miscarriages,” Bylsma told councillors.

The mayor went on to question Maynard’s report which he said “admits in its analysis a failure to suggest any clear violation of the code” and that no similar situations have ever been cited as a basis for the decision.

“Mr. Maynard is simply expressing his opinions, striking out in new territory,” Bylsma said.

Read more: West Lincoln mayor removed from emergency ops post amid investigation into COVID-19 protest

St. Catharines regional Coun. Laura Ip filed the complaint on May 19 with the integrity commissioner, suggesting that Bylsma’s actions were “undermining the necessity of public health measures.”

Following Bylsma’s comments, Ip called into question Bylsma’s apology and failure to challenge the report as acceptance of the findings.

“It’s also incredibly obvious and clear that I don’t think there’s anything to add with respect to how egregious this behaviour is and it being a clear violation of the code of conduct,” Ip said.

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The mayor had been the subject of criticism from Bradley and other regional councillors prior to that episode, when Bylsma participated in an anti-lockdown demonstration on April 10 in St. Catharines.

Following the protest on Lake Street, Bylsma received a summons to appear for allegedly failing to comply with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

The action resulted in the West Lincoln mayor losing his seat with the municipality’s emergency operations centre after local council removed him in April, saying his actions were a “conflict of interest matter.”

Read more: Integrity commission expected to probe West Lincoln mayor’s participation in St. Catharines protest

He is facing a potential fine of up to $100,000 as that case is still before the courts.

Global News has reached out to Bylsma for reaction to his summons, removal from West Lincoln’s EOC team, and the message sent to the constituent.

The mayor has not responded to any of the queries.

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