Special Report: Integrity Commissioner

Ferguson Shove Debacle Demands Answers

The whole Ferguson shove video has become an instruction manual on how an organization shouldn't handle this type of incident.

By Dan Jelly
Published December 01, 2015

City Hall's handling of the incident in which Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson shoved journalist Joey Coleman has been a rolling calamity of mismanagement for nearly two years.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson turning to glare at Joey Coleman during February 24, 2014 Council meeting (Screen Capture from YouTube Video)
Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson turning to glare at Joey Coleman during February 24, 2014 Council meeting (Screen Capture from YouTube Video)

At every turn, they have left obvious and logical questions unanswered, but they don't want the public to keep asking. When the public does ask, more nonsense comes out, begging even more questions. Even the daily paper told us to move on mid-story. Why?

The video, the Integrity Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner: endless delays raised more suspicion.

When the report by former Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse finally came out, Council interpreted their role differently than other cities have and were silent. Why?

Recent cases elsewhere have told us that Council could comment on or override Integrity Commissioner. Not here. Why not?

The former Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin, skewered the report that saw witnesses and even the victim not interviewed. Still more stonewalling.

Video Made Things Worse

When the video finally came out, that should have answered all concerns, but even this was fraught with confusion.

Why was the video cut short? Why was the quality so poor? Why wasn't this questioned before the rest was erased?

Was there a better version of the video? Which version did the police see? The Integrity Commissioner? The Privacy Commissioner?

What were these officials told about the video, its editing, its origins and its quality? Were they told the truth?

Based on discrepancies in witness stories and supicious deficiency in video, Should the police not be involved again?

Accountability and Transparency

Why aren't they answering these seemingly simple, straightforward questions? Accountability and transparency should be priority #1.

If they had just been up front with the public from day 1, the story would be over without a cloud of suspicion.

The whole Ferguson shove video has become an instruction manual on how an organization shouldn't handle this type of incident.


Solutions: Make zero tolerance of violence universal. Councillors, staff, media, general public - one clear policy.

Solutions: Independent review of the entire incident from PR, security, legal, policy and governance perspectives. If one thing has been proven, Hamilton City Hall is currently incapable of honest, instrospective, self-policing. Period.

Solutions: Time for some olive branches. Apologies to the public, apologies to Joey Coleman, for the Basse report if not more.

The public needs to keep asking questions until satisfactory, honest answers are given. This is simple stuff. Mayor Fred Eisenberger, we need to do better.

Dan Jelly is a life-long resident of downtown Hamilton and occasional blogger. You can visit his website.


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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted November 30, 2015 at 21:11:43

P.S. If you're wondering why this is a tad disjointed and abrupt, it was first published as a series of tweets. Ryan McGreal was kind enough to publish it here as well.

I tweeted all this before today's new and improved video was released.

Also, to be clear, this isn't about Coleman and Ferguson for me anymore. I don't think we'll see any change in the status quo of that particular case. However, I don't know anyone who can look at how this was handled and say that the public or Council was well served by the policies in place or the decisions made. It really is time to admit that there has been a series of serious failures on the City's part.

Also, While I have been directing these questions at Mayor Eisenberger, I am fully aware most of these decisions were made without his influence since he was not even the Mayor during the original incident. However, I expect more of him because of that added freedom. He had an opportunity to step in with a fresh impetus to clean things up. So far I only see him acting as an advocate for the status quo.

In response to my questions he did offer to chat with me via telephone, which is appreciated, but I am a single member of the general public, a relative nobody who doesn't deserve the Mayor's attention any more than anyone else.

What I want is a broader discussion, led by media and the greater public, about the problems that occurred and what to do to fix them. City Hall is broken, here's a perfect example of how broken it is. So let's fix it.

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By MonkeyBusiness (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 00:35:45

Yawn. Aren't there so many more important things to talk about? This is being so blown out of proportion. We can be better in so many areas and to dwell on this is just childish in my humble opinion. Let's move on to the bigger issues please.

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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 11:55:15 in reply to Comment 115298

I'm just asking questions about things that still don't make sense and looking for ways to learn from this and fix whatever's broken. I'm not looking for blood, just answers and solutions.

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By city hall (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 08:28:01 in reply to Comment 115298

The issue isn't how hard the push was.

The bigger issue is that city hall has a serious problem with staff motivation. No city employee has any reason to do any actual work beyond the bare minimum status quo because if they do, they will be bullied and belittled by councillors, meanwhile there's no reward for a job well done so why bother? It is a poisonous culture and this crossover to the physical realm by ferguson is our chance to properly recognize and deal with this problem.

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By Concerned (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 14:12:07

I am very disappointed that Mayor Fred refused to answer question at The Hamiltonian about whether he was comfortable with Ferguson remaining in his positions. I know that the Mayor cannot force a councillor to resign, but at the very least he should have asked for his resignation. Maybe the mayor should resign too if he can't do that.

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By MonkeyBusiness (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 14:22:51

Hey Concerned. The shove was made, the apology given and the apology accepted. We can talk all day about other city staff accountability and work towards being better at how we handle things. It's always a learning experience but seriously lay off the councillor already.

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By layoff (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2015 at 17:21:06 in reply to Comment 115310

why, are his feelings hurt?

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