Council majority approves CAO's request for delay of meeting

By Dominic Abassi
May 8, 2018 - 6:17pm Updated: May 8, 2018 - 7:09pm

It will be at least another two weeks before Nanaimo councillors make any decision on the future of their CAO.File Photo/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — The majority of Nanaimo's Council is willing to wait before deciding the fate of their chief administrative officer, granting her request for a delay in the proceedings.

During a closed meeting Monday afternoon, Council voted 5-4 in favour of granting Tracy Samra's request to delay a meeting about her situation, multiple sources with direct knowledge confirmed to NanaimoNewsNOW.

The sources confirmed Samra, or her representative, was due to meet with Council during a closed session on May 9, however she requested and was granted a delay to an unconfirmed date near May 25.

On Tuesday, a notice appeared on the City's website cancelling an in-camera meeting scheduled for May 9. The agenda for the meeting said it was to discuss, among other things, "personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer," as well as labour relations.

The delay means Samra will earn at least another $8,000 in wages while on paid leave, based on the City's most recently disclosed salary information. She earned more than $60,000 since her arrest on Jan. 31 for allegedly uttering threats at City Hall.

The May 9 meeting was offered to Samra due to the City's obligations under the Community Charter, which states Council must offer an appointed officer the "opportunity" to be heard before a termination vote.

However, it is known that Council was under no orders from legal counsel or obligation to grant the request for a delay.

In fact, the same Council majority made the opposite decision in the matter of former chief operations officer Brad McRae when he was fired in January.

McRae asked for a one week delay for his hearing, based on advice from his doctor who said he was not medically fit to appear before Council. However, that request was denied and he was fired without a hearing, with the same five councillors upholding Samra's recommendation to terminate McRae.

McRae said he initiated a human rights complaint after his firing.

Councillors Bill Bestwick, Gord Fuller, Jim Kipp, Bill Yoachim and Jerry Hong did not respond to requests for an explanation of their decision to grant Samra's extension.

The news comes barely a week after Samra's legal proceedings were delayed for a third time, with a first appearance now scheduled for May 15. Her criminal lawyer, Robert Mulligan, previously told NanaimoNewsNOW "it would be fair" of Council and the City to wait for criminal proceedings to play out before dealing with her employment situation.

The Crown applied for a peace bond against Samra, claiming several councillors and current and former City staff have reasonable grounds to fear injury or harm.


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