REGINA - Councillor Terina Shaw has apologized and council has decided against imposing further sanctions on her in connection to a January 19 incident during a virtual council meeting.
Shaw also revealed she suffered mental illness due to a brain injury during the meeting, during which council considered what penalties to impose under the Code of Ethics bylaw.
During Wednesday’s meeting, council had received Integrity Commissioner Angela Kruk’s report and recommendations regarding the Jan. 19 meeting.
The facts revolved around comments posted on a Microsoft Teams chat board by Shaw in response to verbal comments being made by Councillor Shanon Zachidniak. Shaw had posted to the chat board “Shannon can you please leave your lecturing to a personal conversation instead of wasting my time”.
Zachidniak had responded with a post stating “Terina, can you please be respectful to your colleagues.” Shaw had then replied: “respect our time and others who would like to ask questions.”
Integrity commissioner Kruk told council she found the comments disrespectful, and had contravened the Code of Ethics bylaw. She recommended sanctioning Shaw, and to require her to receive some training or education on how to communicate effectively in a respectful and courteous manner.
However, before making a ruling on a sanction, councillors heard from Shaw, and also from Coun. Andrew Stevens, who had filed the ethics complaint against Shaw regarding the Jan. 19 meeting.
In her remarks to council, Shaw revealed that she had suffers from a mental illness due to a brain injury and attention deficit disorder.
“I’m not ashamed, nor do I ever want this to be an excuse. I tell people so they can understand me and my behaviour, my impulsiveness,” Shaw told council. “I frustrate easily. I say things without stopping and thinking.”
She also noted the challenges she faced in politics.
“I worked in the private sector and was never judged on my first response, I was respective and apologetic, and straightforward with anyone,” Shaw said.
She noted her children had been very understanding with her frustration and anger, and apologies were “always my first resource.”
“In the political world I live in I am judged for every word I say. I don’t get a do-over.”
She also said she was working with her doctor on how to handle it.
As for her own conduct, Shaw said she “realized it was unprofessional.” She said she spoke to Councillor Zachidniak following the meeting and apologized for her remarks. “She graciously accepted my apology and then we have worked to enhance and improve our relationship in the coming months.”
She said she has always been someone who communicates in a very frank manner which can at times be misinterpreted as being disrespectful and dismissive.
“Many of you that know me know me that my heart — that I have been blessed with an incredible heart. I don’t want this to be taken away from my integrity, my honesty and my kindness.”
In speaking to council, Councillor Stevens said he had a chance to speak with Shaw after the investigation had begun.
He said he was looking for a “restorative” solution to a “very fractured relationship,” and said he pursued the integrity commissioner approach “because it was not possible at that time to engage in an interpersonal dialogue that would help resolve some of these concerns.”
As the investigation proceeded, Stevens said he and Shaw did get a chance to talk.
He said it was a “very important moment,” and said it was a “very successful dialogue and I think we have kind of come to terms interpersonally, but also I saw some willingness to change… there was willingness to change on both our parts.”
Stevens also said he was willing to withdraw his complaint because of the dialogue he had with Councillor Shaw.
During the discussion that followed, the revelation of Shaw’s brain injury had an impact.
“I’m struck this is the first time I’m hearing of a medical explanation,” said Dan LeBlanc, who moved they go in-camera for legal advice. “I’m concerned it’s not mentioned in the report.”
After that in-camera meeting ended, and after the open session reconvened, Shaw was asked what steps she had taken. She responded her doctor suggested she get in touch with a therapist who understands attention deficit disorder, and there are other things she needs to do.
When asked about her thoughts on the recommendation from the Integrity Commissioner, Shaw said “it’s not going to do what we think it’s going to do until I have my impulsiveness behavior under control. That can’t be taught through communication. That has to be taught through a therapist.”
Councillor Bob Hawkins moved Option 3 - to impose no sanction, censure or further corrective actions.
“Councillor Shaw has explained her medical circumstances, I think she has apologized,” said Hawkins.
“In those circumstances I think there is nothing further that this council can consider. I’m fully satisfied that Councillor Shaw has been genuine in what she has told us, I’m fully satisfied she will continue to work with her professional assistants, and I think the matter is best left there.”
Most of council ultimately came to the same view. In the end, council voted in favor of not imposing sanctions by a 6-2 vote, with only councillor Cheryl Stadnichuk and Mayor Sandra Masters against.
Masters explained to reporters after the meeting she was prepared to support additional training for Shaw.
“I believe we should all be continuously learning,” Mayor Masters said. “I think we can all benefit from it.”
In speaking to reporters Shaw said that it was significant for her to disclose her brain injury publicly.
“The negative reflection of what I have brought to council at times and the way that council has seen it, the way the media has ran with it — I did not want that any more to reflect on council. I wanted everyone to know this about me.”
Other allegations against Shaw will not proceed
This matter had been one of six complaints filed against Shaw, but was the only one to go to council for consideration.
There had been other allegations against Shaw that were filed with the Integrity Commissioner that are not going to council. One complaint was a letter written by Florence Stratton and Susana Deranger signed by 47 signatories, which alleged racist comments by Shaw at a Jan. 26 meeting and again on July 15 during a discussion on homelessness.
That letter was made public in a news release from the complainants, but Shaw confirmed to reporters that she was informed that particular complaint was determined to be unfounded and will not be proceeding. Interim City Manager Jim Nicol confirmed the Integrity Commissioner would not be moving forward with that complaint.
It was also explained that normally complaints that are unfounded or unsubstantiated would remain confidential. Only when there is a finding of something substantiated does a report come to council.
But Nicol explained that in the case of the letter from the 47 individuals, this was an “oddity.”
“Because of the public nature of this, the complainants were told that it was unsubstantiated,” said Nicol. “I had a discussion with the Integrity Commissioner and indicated that it was only appropriate that Councillor Shaw also be apprised of this, because otherwise she would not know what was going on and yet they did. Again, this is an oddity. Ideally, these should never be aired in public like this until such time as they come before council.”
Mayor Masters confirmed to reporters that she did meet with those complainants privately. “There were two complainants that reached out to my office, we’ve had meetings and we're continuing to work through that process, just in terms of kind of next steps going forward... I feel this is a little bit their story, not mine.”