Council for the City of Langley is responding to Mayor Val van den Broek’s public statements about the circumstances surrounding the motion of censure and sanction issued against her on May 10, 2022 for breaching the City’s Respectful Workplace Policy.
The City of Langley is committed to promoting and maintaining a respectful work environment in which all employees are treated with dignity and respect. The City has in place a Respectful Workplace Policy that prohibits all forms of bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination. Complaints of bullying and harassment are handled in accordance with that policy and the City’s legal obligations. The City does not condone intimidation, bullying, harassment or disrespectful or inappropriate conduct in the workplace and treats complaints and violation of the policy seriously.
A motion of censure is a formal statement that Council is reprimanding one of its members for conduct that it considers unbecoming a member of Council.
On May 10, 2022, the Council decided to issue a motion of censure and sanction against the Mayor. Council’s decision followed an independent third-party investigation conducted by an investigator with experience in workplace law. Council determined that the Mayor’s actions and behaviour amounted to bullying and harassment in violation of the City's Respectful Workplace Policy, the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines and Policies.
In particular, following the investigation, Council concluded that the Mayor misused her power as Mayor to target, intimidate and threaten an employee of the City, including by making unjustified and false statements about the employee. Council considers the Mayor’s conduct a breach of the Respectful Workplace Policy and conduct unbecoming of a member of City Council. As a result, Council took measures it considered reasonable in the circumstances to minimize the risk of further bullying and harassment of the complainant and to publicly reprimand the Mayor.
Responses to the Mayor’s Statements
After being publicly censured, the Mayor made false statements to the public regarding the reasons for the motion of censure and sanction. Council for the City was disappointed by the Mayor’s actions and wishes to clarify any misunderstanding.
- Contrary to the Mayor’s allegation, Council did not vote to keep the investigation report confidential. Investigations of bullying and harassment under the City’s Policy are to be kept confidential to the extent possible in part to encourage complainants and witnesses to come forward with concerns about conduct in the workplace and to cooperate in investigations. Investigation reports are confidential and often privileged because they contain highly sensitive and personal information of those who participated in the investigation. Confidential investigations are also meant to protect the respondent. Accordingly, the full investigation report will not be made public.
- For the reasons given above, the motion of censure and sanction was not related in any way to services, facilities, or appropriate levels of spending and it was regrettable the Mayor called into question the City’s finances.
- Council agrees with the Mayor that all City employees ought to be able to work in a safe and professional environment.
- Council too wants to make the City a better place for everyone.
As the Mayor and a public servant of the City, her words and actions matter. Council believes that as Mayor, she had a responsibility to use her power and influence in a responsible and respectful manner. That did not happen in relation to the conduct giving rise to the motion of censure and sanction.
Council has been diligent in protecting the interests of the City with respect to its decision to censure the Mayor and reassures the residents that Council took this matter very seriously. Due process and procedural fairness were followed at every step. Council looks forward to putting this matter behind them so that it can turn its attention more fully to the needs and business of the City.