A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted May 12th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
No wonder Andy Petrowski tried so hard to keep those code of conduct rulings from being released because, from what us now being reported of them, they are about as damning of him as they can be.
For those of you who have not been following the follies at Niagara Region – and it’s hard to blame you if you don’t – I’m talking about St. Catharines regional councillor Andy Petrowski, and rulings prepared by the regional government’s integrity commission, John Mascarin, on three ‘code of conduct’ complaints filed against Petrowski over the past number of months.
After a recent attempt at a meeting of the Region’s corporate services committee to have the rulings held in abeyance while awaiting a legal opinion on the conditionality of the regional government’s current ‘code of conduct’ rules, then a failed bid this May 10th to stop there release with a court injunction, Petrowski suddenly handed them over this May 11th to a reporter at the St. Catharines Standard – a newspaper that only days ago, he shot back at in an email with a Trump-like slam; “fake news Standard.”
You’d probably have to get inside Andy Petrowski to figure out why he would hand deliver the rulings to the Standard before they will likely be disclosed for discussion at next Thursday’s, May 18th regional council meeting, and I definitely don’t want to go there.
But the results of his hand off to a reporter at the newspaper are not pretty.
There, at the top of the front page of this May 12th’s Standard, is the headline; ‘Mascarin slams Petrowski’, followed quickly by a list of words Mascarin uses in his rulings to describe a series of messages Petrowski sent out to the world as tweets. The words Mascarin used, according to the newspaper report, include; “puerile, disdainful, insulting, amateurish, ridiculous, odious.”
“This is not a case of a single offensive tweet,” the Bill Sawchuk story in the Standard goes on to say. “There are six separate instances of offensive tweets being sent out by the councillor. …”
“What the tweets are not is thoughtful or illuminating or enlightening or humanizing. The councillor’s tweets make no attempt to elevate the level of discourse on the issues they purport to raise in any way – they merely seek to incite and provoke.”
One of the complaints has to do with some things Petrowski had to say about the Muslim religion that member of Niagara’s Muslim community to offence to.
The others revolve around Petrowski’s conduct around the Town of Pelham’s mayor, Dave Augustyn, who sits on regional council and who Petrowski obviously has little regard for – a disregard exhibited more recently at an April meeting of regional councillor where Petrowski called Augustyn a “liar” while the mayor was talking at one point, and then fell silent when offered an opportunity to apologies.
The complaints Mascarin ruled on involved earlier conduct that occurred at a meeting and through twitter messages – incidence that, along with the one involving the Muslim references, I will not describe in any further detail here for fear of giving them attention they don’t deserve.
Suffice, to say Andy Petrowski has had a record of saying things or of circulating social media messages that others, including in other examples, members of the Jewish and LGBT communities have taken exception to.
He almost always strives to defend such conduct by statements, just as he did when I crossed paths with him outside a Welland court house this May 10th after he lost his case for an injunction, by stressing the rights he feels he has under Canada’s constitution and Charter of Right and Freedoms, to express his views.
Depending on when and where he has made the statement, Petrowski has also argued that he should not be subjected to the Region’s code of conduct when, in his view, he is expressing his views as a “private citizen” rather than as a public figure or a member of regional council.
Petrowski has also vehemently argued that the code of conduct process is “rigged” or “unjust” in the sense, he says, that he is not told who the party is who files a complaint and is not provided a copy of the complaint for given a chance to defend himself against it until the integrity commissioner hands him a draft of his ruling, at which time he believes it is too late to turn the ruling around.
In the case of the rulings for the three complaints in question, Petrowski tried to make a case before a Superior Court Justice in Welland this May 10th that if they are released, they will (among other things) cause him to “have little chance of procuring any private sector employment,” state documents he filed with the court, “as he will be known all around the region and beyond as a bully.”
The Justice, Mark Edwards, did not agree.
“I am satisfied the reports (containing the integrity commissioner’s rulings) will have no additional effect on Mr. Petrowski’s reputation,” stated Edwards before ruling against the motion for an injunction and charging Petrowski and Fort Erie resident Fred Bracken a total of $5,500 in court costs.
Indeed, one wonders whether the rulings will hurt Andy Petrowski in any tangible way since he has had a reputation – to put it as delicately as one can -of being quite a colourful and outspoken person for many years going back to before he was first elected to regional council in 2010.
I would certainly not bet against enough voters in St. Catharines re-electing him to regional council in 2018 since I continue to hear a number of people in that city say they like the fact that he ‘tells it like it is’ and they see him (as he has often labeled himself) as a ‘champion for the tax payer.’
There are 16 months to go before the next election, so we shall see.
Niagara At Large will have more on this and related madness at the Niagara regional government level later.
To read the entire St. Catharines Standard story, click on – http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/05/11/integrity-commissioner-slams-petrowski .
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