Text cre­ates trou­ble for Hal­i­fax bu­reau­crat

Montreal Gazette - - CANADA - BRETT BUNDALE

• Jac­ques Dubé swooped into Hal­i­fax with sar­to­rial flair, star power and a sense of hu­mour.

The former Monc­ton, N.B., city man­ager took over the helm of Hal­i­fax’s bu­reau­cracy in Septem­ber with a prom­ise to cut red tape, boost ef­fi­ciency and im­prove cus­tomer ser­vice.

But the chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer is now apol­o­giz­ing af­ter a ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tion stem­ming from a text mes­sage he sent to a fe­male col­league be­fore a mas­sive snow storm par­a­lyzed the city in Fe­bru­ary.

The mes­sage spoofed a satir­i­cal news story that first ap­peared in The Beaver­ton, a Cana­dian online news satire site.

Us­ing pro­fane lan­guage, the text mes­sage de­scribed a man’s love of win­ter as “the best sea­son” and the col­league’s de­sire to kill “this son of a bitch with my hands,” ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

The mes­sage re­port­edly went on to copy parts of The Beaver­ton’s 2014 story, head­lined “Na­tion won­ders if guy who ‘loves win­ter’ also likes get­ting (ex­ple­tive deleted) choked to death.”

The col­league filed a ha­rass­ment com­plaint against Dubé. Af­ter re­gional coun­cil dis­cussed the per­son­nel mat­ter be­hind closed doors in March, Dubé took an un­planned leave.

In an email sent to mu­nic­i­pal staff Thurs­day, Dubé apol­o­gized for his con­duct and said he owed staff an “honest as­sess­ment” of the sit­u­a­tion and what he has learned.

“I have apol­o­gized to the com­plainant and take this op­por­tu­nity to tell all of you as well that I am sorry,” he said. “As CAO, I should have known bet­ter and not as­sumed that I had per­mis­sion to com­mu­ni­cate about a mat­ter un­re­lated to work. I have learned a lot from this ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Dubé said he sent the text to a col­league “ab­sent of any con­text or re­gard for how it could be re­ceived.”

Af­ter the com­plaint was lodged, Dubé said a thor­ough process was un­der­taken.

“This com­plaint was taken very se­ri­ously,” he said, adding that it was “in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gated” and “fair con­clu­sions were drawn.”

An in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor found that while he breached the city’s ha­rass­ment pol­icy, the in­ci­dent was iso­lated and no harm was in­tended, he said. Rec­om­men­da­tions from the process are be­ing im­ple­mented, he added.

Still, Dubé ac­knowl­edges

I SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT I WAS DO­ING BE­FORE I PRESSED ‘SEND.’

that his text mes­sage im­pacted his col­league.

“I should have thought about what I was do­ing be­fore I pressed ‘send,’ ” he said. “I didn’t think about the feel­ings of my col­league and I will al­ways re­gret it. For that I am sin­cerely sorry.”

The city’s top civil ser­vant pledged to be an ad­vo­cate for a work­place free of ha­rass­ment, and en­cour­aged em­ploy­ees to re­port in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour.

“It’s not a com­plainant’s fault that they feel ha­rassed and they should not be blamed in any man­ner for com­ing for­ward and look­ing to our ha­rass­ment pol­icy for a so­lu­tion,” Dubé said.

JAC­QUES DUBE / TWIT­TER

Jac­ques Dubé, Hal­i­fax’s chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, has apol­o­gized for a pro­fane email sent to a col­league.

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