Allegedly harassed several members of council, police chief says
The Sudbury woman, who has not been named, was charged March 8 with uttering threats and criminal harassment. She was released on a promise to appear, said Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner.
The city councillor, who has not been identified, made the complaint March 2, Elsner said. The police investigation uncovered the fact she had been sending messages to other members of council, as well.
“I can’t comment about specifics of the case, because it’s before the courts,” Elsner said March 8. “But the charges are a result of a threatening voicemail left for a member of council. And there has been some other contact with other members of council, as well, over a period of time.
“Enough information was gained that we were able to determine that it was criminal in nature.”
Elsner said there’s a false impression among some members of the public that just because someone is a politician, they can say whatever they want to them.
“A lot people think because they’re (city) councillors, you can say what you want,” he said. “You can’t. Just because someone holds public office doesn’t allow people to make criminal threats against them.”
While city councillors have been a target of criticism on blogs on media websites for years, the rhetoric has been more intense of late because of council’s unpopular decision last month to fire Ontario Ombudsman André Marin as its closed-door meeting investigator.
Council finalized its decision Feb. 26 at a meeting during which Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau made reference to the abuse to which he and other council members are often subjected.
“I don’t appreciate the constant abuse,” Barbeau told a packed council chamber at Tom Davies Square. “Some people feel it’s their God-given right to send me emails telling me I’m corrupt.
“People call and email me to say I’m a jerk and an idiot. And some people think that’s funny? There’s no humour in that.”
Barbeau said he devotes so many hours to being a councillor that he lost his full-time job. But he said he is committed to serving regardless.
“I work extremely hard each and every day for my community,” he said. “It’s why I chose to run, and it’s why I continue to take the abuse on a daily basis. And for people to sit here and judge me, who have never put their name on a ballot? My God. Unbelievable.
“We put our blood and sweat into what we do every day.”
Elsner said he didn’t know if the threats the woman allegedly made were a result of the decision to fire the ombudsman.