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Medicine Hat, Alta., mayor stripped of powers, pay following August incident at council

Medicine Hat’s mayor is essentially mayor in title only following a meeting of the southern Alberta city’s council on Thursday.

Mayor Linnsie Clark and one city councillor were not present at the meeting.

The vote among the council members who did attend, to drastically cut down Clark’s powers and pay, was unanimous.

The vote was the result of a motion being passed stating Clark breached the code of conduct by failing to treat the city manager with courtesy, dignity and respect during an exchange at an open council meeting on Aug. 21, 2023.

The exchange led to a third-party investigation, a council report and back to city hall on Thursday. 

A letter of reprimand was read aloud at Thursday’s meeting by Coun. Andy McGrogan and an apology was requested.

Moving forward, Clark is:

  • To have no contact with city staff;
  • No longer the official spokesperson for city council;
  • Prohibited from entering the administration area of city hall;
  • Communicate with the city manager only via email, with all emails cc’d to city council;
  • Have at least one city councillor present in the event a meeting with the city manager must occur; and
  • No longer to attend city administration committee meetings.

Clark’s salary will also be reduced by 50 per cent, effective immediately.

McGrogan called it a “very sad day for Medicine Hat the city and, you know, everybody that’s involved.”

Council members will now share Clark’s workload.

“We all need to be comfortable with each other,” McGrogan said.

“We don’t have to always agree. We can all make mistakes along the way but we just we need to respect each other through the process.”

While not at Thursday’s meeting, Clark did respond to the vote on social media.

“I fundamentally disagree with the decision of council,” she posted to Facebook.

“I find council’s sanction shocking and absolutely disproportionate.

“I am reviewing my legal options and expect to be in a position to provide a further public response after I have done so.”

CTV News reached out to Clark, who declined further comment and referred back to her previous statement.

The province issued a statement on Thursday afternoon:

“Municipal Affairs is aware of the City of Medicine Hat’s special council meeting today and the sanctions issued by council to the Mayor. The Municipal Government Act requires every municipality to establish of a code of conduct bylaw,” the statement read.

“The Code of Conduct for Elected Officials Regulation sets out requirements for the complaint system within a code of conduct bylaw, as well as sanctions which may be imposed for violations of a code of conduct bylaw.

“The Municipal Government Act does not provide the Minister of Municipal Affairs with any role in the adjudication of sanctions imposed by a council under a code of conduct bylaw.” 

Clark was also the subject of a recall petition that was started in October 2023 but ultimately failed to generate the necessary signatures.

The creator of that petition says Clark’s demotion is welcome news but she believes council still has a long way to go.

“We’ve always said from the very beginning that we don’t think problems are, you know, necessarily just related to only her,” said Medicine Hat resident Nicole Frey.

It’s currently unclear how long the sanctions will be imposed on Clark. 

The next municipal election is set for October 2025.

(With files from Timm Bruch, Quinn Keenan, Damien Wood and Shaun Frenette)

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