Integrity commissioner suggests Kingston council dock Stroud's pay following bus incident

A new integrity commissioner's report says Kingston Coun. Peter Stroud should be docked 30 days of pay as a result of complaints levelled against him.

An integrity commissioner’s report set to be presented at Kingston city council next week has called for Coun. Peter Stroud’s pay to be docked for a month.

According to the report, an incident that led to charges against the councillor after he allegedly held up a Kingston Transit bus for nearly 10 minutes, along with some negative comments he made about Kingston police on social media, could be seen as breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.

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The report, completed on Feb. 6, comes in response to several complaints received by city staff between Oct. 17 and 31 about the councillors, and about the alleged Kingston Transit incident, after which Stroud was charged with causing a disturbance and obstruction of property under $5,000.

Those charges were dropped in September on the condition that the city councillor write a letter of apology to the bus driver affected. The Sydenham Ward councillor was also supposed to perform community service for the Salvation Army but was able to waive that service by paying a $200 fee, according to the report.

In the report, the integrity commissioner notes Stroud’s apology, “through no fault of the councillor … never made its way to the bus operator, nor to anyone else at Kingston Transit.”

The report also says the apology could be seen as insincere.

“In our view, the letter of apology provided by the councillor fails to grasp the seriousness of the incident or the egregiousness of his behaviour,” the report reads. “In our view, the apology was neither timely nor heartfelt.”

The report delves deeper into the alleged incident that took place on June 23. According to the report, Stroud held up a public transit bus on a busy Kingston street with his child in tow, allegedly yelling and slamming on the front window of the vehicle.

“My intention was to gain access for my eldest child, who was refused service while arriving to an express bus stop before the scheduled departure,” Stroud wrote in a tweet after the incident.

The report notes a detailed timeline of the alleged events that took place, saying they were captured by the bus’ four security cameras. These alleged events, the report says, led Stroud to chase after a bus with his child on his bicycle and then block the bus from moving for nearly 10 minutes.

At the time, Stroud was reportedly trying to catch a bus at Alfred and Brock streets at 2:48 pm. to get his child to an event across the city.

The bus pulled up to the stop and let people off, and according to the report, Stroud parked his bike in front of the bus to let his child disembark.

“Dismounting quickly while still coming to a stop, the councillor turned around to face the bus, raising his hand as he turned, but the bus had already begun to pull away from the bus stop. It was 14:47:55,” the report reads.

The bus then left without them several seconds before it was meant to arrive, leaving Stroud and his child behind, according to the report, which says the two then got back on the bike to catch the bus.

After cutting across a park, the report says Stroud met the bus at an intersection at Sir John. A MacDonald Boulevard, where it was stopped “two cars back from a red light at the signalized intersection.”

“He pulled in front of the bus at 14:54:38 and dismounted his bike, placing it on its kickstand immediately in front of the bus in the lane of traffic,” the report reads.

The driver reportedly tried to wave the councillor off, saying she could not let him enter the bus, but Stroud ignored her, the report alleges.

“He proceeded to tap on the windshield and, from the bus video, appears to be yelling at her, demanding she let his child on the bus, then with his fist, banged three times on the windshield, demanding she open the door,” the report says. “He then started taking pictures of her with his iPhone.”

The report notes that while allegedly holding up the bus, Stroud called the acting city manager to complain that the bus had left early from its stop.

After allegedly holding up the bus for over nine minutes, the report says Stroud and his child finally got back on their bike and headed for the next bus stop at Bath Road and Portsmouth Avenue. On the advice of her supervisor, the bus driver did not allow Stroud or two other people waiting at the stop to enter the bus, according to the report. Stroud then reportedly got on his bike and rode away once again.

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The report details that the call put in by Stroud to the city manager set a series of actions into motion that led to the reviewing of the bus’ videos and eventually prompted staff to inform police of the incident. The report notes that the bus driver never asked for police intervention.

In the end, the report finds the councillor “exhibited a callous disregard for the safety and well-being of others — including his own child — who were impacted by his actions during
the event.”

“It is evident that many passengers were inconvenienced,” the report notes, adding that one bystander who was waiting at the bus stop was allegedly almost run over by Stroud when he “zoomed past him on his bike on the sidewalk in front of the bus in a live traffic lane.”

Social media comments

The report also notes that staff received complaints about negative social media comments posted on Twitter by the councillor.

Stroud is active on social media, something the integrity commissioner’s report makes a point of emphasizing.

“According to the councillor, it has been his experience that his use of social media has resulted in the growth of his support, and he sees no downside in any of the publicity he gets,” the report says.

Nevertheless, one tweet in particular about a Kingston police officer parking in a bike lane seems to have drawn the ire of some people in the city, who sent in complaints about the councillor’s comments. The integrity commissioner’s report says it will not be divulging the names of the complainants.

The tweet, according to the report, was a means of “publicly criticizing police behaviour or, more accurately, the behaviour of a single police officer. It unfairly casts the entire police service in a negative light, broadcasting the critique in a public way.”

Despite that finding, the report says the integrity commissioner does not consider the post “bullying or intimidation.”

In the end, the integrity commissioner has advised council to suspend Stroud’s pay for 30 days and have the report made available to the public.

In a statement sent to Global News, Stroud repeated his apology.

“As requested by the court, I submitted a written apology to the bus driver in September 2019 and would like again to say I’m very sorry for what I did.”

He noted that he was strongly opposed to having the report posted publically, especially since it identified the age and gender of his child.

“I do not hold my council colleagues responsible as the city made that information public before council had a chance to vote on the second recommendation. This violated my innocent child’s right to privacy and needs to be addressed.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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