Regina councillors call for investigation after mayor accuses them of harassment

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Regina councillors call for investigation after mayor accuses them of harassment
Following the harassment claims over the city's refusal to address homelessness, an open letter was sent to Masters and Anderson, signed by over 100 Regina residents – Feb 20, 2023

Regina city mayor Sandra Masters has added more fuel to the fire between two city councillors and the city manager.

Mayor Masters has accused city councillors Daniel LeBlanc and Andrew Stevens of harassment in the form of sexism and intimidation.

The two are now calling on a provincial investigation to clear their names.

City council agreed in June to $24 million in funding to end homelessness in Regina. But when the city unveiled its proposed 2023/2024 budget in 2022, homelessness funding was excluded.

“Solving homelessness, I don’t think anyone has actually ever done that or put a monetary cost to it,” said city manager Niki Anderson at a press conference in February.

A lawsuit was filed by LeBlanc, who is also a lawyer, on behalf of Stevens against Anderson after the funding was allegedly withheld.

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Anderson said that the lawsuit took away any opportunity for the city to have conversations about what could be done to solve homelessness.

“The community asked them to stick their necks out and advocate the way that they did,” said Alysia Johnson with Rally for Homelessness.

“Regardless of what’s going on at the end of the day in the political world, it’s really the women who are sleeping cold on the streets tonight who pay the ultimate price.”

“I will not ever be alone with the councillors that sued me because I need another presence to make sure that things aren’t distorted,” said Anderson at the February conference.

She claimed that Coun. LeBlanc has been dishonest in past conversations.

Masters called the lawsuit disgusting and claimed it contained tones of sexism.

The case was dismissed in Regina court and no new additions were included in the 2023/2024 budget regarding funding for homelessness.

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Following the city’s refusal to address homelessness in the budget and the recent harassment claims, an open letter was sent to Masters and Anderson, signed by over 100 Regina residents.

“It is not sexist to expect that our elected officials remain accountable to their commitments,” read the letter. “Ending houselessness is feminist. Sheltering women in positions of power from discomfort at the expense of women for whom the consequences of their inaction are lethal, is not.”

Johnson and Rally with Homelessness were part of the signees on the letter supporting the councillors.

“To try to deflect and turn this into an issue about sexism, we need to get back to the basics here,” said Johnson. “This is about protecting women and protecting community. To protect women at one level at the expense of another is not okay.”

Johnson said that there has been no response yet from Anderson or Masters yet on the contents of the letter.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

“It’s humbling to get a letter of support like that from a hundred-plus leading feminist women and non-binary people,” said LeBlanc. “It’s really heartening to (see) that in their view, an informed one, that as far as feminism goes, councillor Stevens and I are on the right track addressing houselessness.”

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LeBlanc said he has left messages with a provincial occupational health and safety investigator to see if they’ll look into the recent harassment claim.

“If they are seriously claiming harassment, which I dispute, I see no basis of, that should be looked into by someone who has no connection to the city,” he said.

LeBlanc said that he is completely open to having the matter investigated and seeing if previous actions at city council meetings classify as harassment.

The City of Regina has a harassment policy applicable to city employees, which includes the city manager.

However, in this instance, the city said, “It’s unlikely the Harassment Policy would be the governing policy, as this policy does not apply to City Council members. City Council is governed primarily by The Code of Ethics Bylaw.”

It’s unclear if any code of ethics complaints have been made to the city’s integrity commissioner as they are confidential.

Masters recently told media that there’s no roadmap for how to deal with this specific complaint and they are trying to work through it.

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