‘Modern day slave’: Pickering councillor complains about docked pay over bullying comments

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Published September 27, 2023 at 3:10 pm

pickering councillor lisa robinson controversy black history month

A Pickering city councillor has called herself “a modern day slave” after she was docked a month’s pay for making bullying comments to her neighbours on social media.

Coun. Lisa Robinson is in hot water once again for her controversial comments in reaction to an integrity commissioner report that found she bullied her neighbour after they opposed her installation of a storage container on her property.

Robinson has long operated an annual Halloween event at her Rosebank home and over the years acquired an extensive collection of decorations. Her collection has exceeded her storage space in her basement and she sought to get a new permanent shipping container to hold them in.

Some of the councillor’s neighbours were less than enthusiastic about the new structure, which was large enough to require a variance request with the city. During a public city planning meeting to debate the variance request, three neighbours came out in person to oppose the structure, while a fourth sent in a letter.

Ultimately the committee sided with the neighbours and denied Robinson the variance. That evening, Robinson posted a since-deleted Facebook update, calling out the neighbours by name for her event’s cancellation.

“It is with great sadness that I announce that this year’s Robinson’s Charity Halloween Haunt and corn maze will have to be cancelled,” Robinson posted. “A big Thank you to [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted] for your neighbourly kindness.”

Principles Integrity, which acts as Pickering’s Integrity Commissioner, called the post an “inappropriate attack against individual residents who had simply participated in a public planning process” in its subsequent report to council.

Robinson defended her remark, saying it was made on her “personal, private” Facebook page. However, her page is open for anyone to see. The integrity commissioners found the post amounted to a sarcastic comment meant to blame the neighbours for the event’s cancellation.

“There was nothing within her application, nor in the decision of the Committee of Adjustment, which would compel her to discontinue the event (and) there is nothing in the evidence we reviewed to suggest that the three residents had contributed in any special way to the holding of the Halloween Haunt,” they wrote. “If she wishes to discontinue the event, that is certainly her prerogative, but to blame those who oppose the permanent location of a shipping container on her property for that decision is disingenuous, and patently unfair.”

“As a councillor it must be recognized as a bully tactic (and) it shows a flagrant disregard for the well-being of others.”

Pickering City Council voted to reprimand Robinson for her “bullying and intimidation” behaviour and docked her one month’s pay.

Robinson again took to social media to complain, this time about her reprimand.

“According to Principal’s Integrity, while using a child’s dictionary, a sarcastic remark equates to bullying and intimidation,” she wrote.

Following the vote, she posted an update railing against the pay dock, “Council voted to have me work for free for the next 30 days for a “sarcastic remark” on my personal FB post. I am now a modern day slave.”

Robinson has been no stranger to controversy since taking office last fall, having railed against gender-neutral bathrooms and Pride-related events. She put forward a motion to prevent the raising of the rainbow flag over Pickering City Hall and was the sole dissenting voice in a vote to reaffirm the city’s commitment to the LGBT community.

She has also recently posted about her support for the 1 Million March 4 Children, an event that critics have called an anti-LGBTQ event. Her support of the controversial march was condemned by Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe.

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