City of Yellowknife senior administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett sought to reassure residents through a video message following allegations of workplace misconduct at City Hall.
A number of claims regarding the conduct of municipal enforcement manager Doug Gillard were published in January. Gillard is alleged to have bullied employees, made inappropriately sexual remarks about colleagues, and used municipal security cameras to watch women.
The claims, from years leading up to 2014, were taken from emails and legal depositions leaked to various Yellowknife newsrooms, alongside interviews with former employees.
Gillard remains in post. In response to January’s media reports, the City chose to switch off its security cameras while defending Gillard’s continued employment on the grounds that “people can change.”
‘Changes are coming’
On February 1, the City published a new video featuring Bassi-Kellett – who was appointed in March 2017 – addressing changes she says are being introduced to improve the working environment at City Hall.
“Were there issues in the past? Apparently so,” she tells residents. “But I’m working to change that. It’s up to me to ensure a safe, productive, and respectful work environment that’s free from oppression and harassment.”
Bassi-Kellett says the introduction of a whistleblower policy, quarterly meetings with union leaders, gender balance among City management, and an increase in the number of face-to-face meetings, have made the City a better place to work – echoing comments she made to Cabin Radio in January.
“Constructive change happens through good leadership, openness and accountability, and I offer that,” concludes Bassi-Kellett, in a statement not unlike a political campaign message.
“I’m committed to upholding a government that is productive, safe, diverse, and accountable, and that serves the public professionally and respectfully.
“More positive changes are coming.”
Bassi-Kellett pursued a similar communications strategy in 2012 while serving as the territorial government’s deputy minister for human resources, releasing a series of videos discussing that year’s collective bargaining negotiations.
Sixty of Yellowknife’s public security cameras are believed to remain offline while administrators work on a new security camera policy, governing who accesses the cameras and how they are used.
Last month, city councillors voted to move ahead with an independent, third-party investigation of the allegations against Gillard and their subsequent handling.