Hamilton Veterans Committee member dodges reprimand for driving during live-streamed meeting

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Published October 27, 2021 at 12:19 pm

A member of Hamilton’s Veterans Committee is being asked to issue a more fulsome apology after a video of him driving while participating in a committee meeting was live-streamed and shared on social media this past summer.

An Integrity Commissioner’s report in front of Hamilton City Council on Wednesday (Oct. 27) lays out the findings of an investigation into Don Jackson’s conduct during the June 29, 2021, live-streamed meeting.

Jackson, who is a volunteer member of the committee, is seen during the course of the 22-minute stream driving a truck. He stops driving when he arrives home mere moments before the meeting concluded.

The report notes that the matter was brought to the attention of the GTA Traffic division of the OPP, but no charges were being laid.

According to the council report, Jackson issued an apology in the wake of the incident but declined to participate in the investigation into his conduct.

City solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski noted that it was this reluctance to participate in the investigation that largely led to the recommendations contained in the report which calls for Jackson’s resignation or revocation of his membership on the committee.

Ward 11 councillor, Brenda Johnson, and Ward 13 councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who are council’s representatives on the committee, were quick to vouch for Jackson and touted his history of volunteerism in the community.

“This is a sad day,” Johnson said in her remarks. “I hope this doesn’t deter other volunteers.”

Johnson went on to point out that Jackson’s lack of participation as it relates to the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation is understandable given that those unused to the formal processes of city advisory committees can be easily ‘intimidated’ by them.

“I will not support asking for a resignation,” she said, adding that she was satisfied with Jackson’s apology and promise not to repeat his actions.

“If you knew this individual, you would probably be voting along with me. I can’t imagine a better reprimand than the debate we just had.”

Several councillors, however, were not satisfied with Jackson’s initial apology and felt he needed to be held accountable for driving distractedly.

Ward 9 councillor Brad Clark pointed out that it was very “lucky” that Jackson didn’t kill himself or someone else.

“We as a municipality and our police department…we’re always promoting no distracted driving,” Clark said, adding that Jackson’s actions are ‘indefensible.’

Mayor Fred Eisenberger took exception to Jackson’s initial apology, saying it wasn’t really an apology at all but a means to excuse his behaviour.

“I think it’s fully appropriate that we ask for a more fulsome apology,” he said.

Ultimately, council voted to receive the Integrity Commissioner’s report and not take action against Jackson beyond asking for a fulsome apology to the Veterans Committee and City Council.

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