Text creates trouble for Halifax bureaucrat
HALIFAX • Jacques Dube 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 Dube. After regional council discussed the personnel matter behind closed doors in March, Dube took an unplanned leave.
In an email sent to municipal staff Thursday, Dube 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.”
Dube 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, Dube 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
I SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT I WAS DOING BEFORE I PRESSED ‘SEND.’
from the process are being implemented, he added.
Still, Dube acknowledges 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,” Dube said.