An alleged sexual relationship with a senior staff member has resulted in the removal of Garry Reece from his position as Mayor of Lax Kw’alaams.
According to the band, a formal complaint “regarding the professional conduct of Mayor Reece” was submitted on July 9. The complainant alleged the relationship had been happening for years and alleged that Reece misused his position as Mayor while providing “significant documentary evidence” to support the claim. In a subsequent meeting with council, Reece admitted to the sexual relationship.
Band Council met on July 29 to review the evidence and hear from both the complainant and Reece, who participated fully, and council voted to petition for his removal from office citing a failure to uphold the code of conduct, failure to remove himself from a conflict of interest situation and acting dishonestly in his role as mayor.
Reece petitioned federal court following his removal, but the motion was dismissed as the judge noted the band process needed to be complete.
On Aug. 6, a recently appointed Complaints and Appeal Board upheld the ruling of council to remove Reece. In the ruling, board chair Rudy Kelly noted the board agreed with council.
“We believe that Mr. Reece violated conduct rules as noted by council and that, as a role model and representative of the community, his actions have had an adverse effect on council’s ability to function and on the reputation of community, and he showed little accountability and remorse for his actions,” wrote Kelly.
The Lax Kw’alaams Band website has since removed Garry Reece as mayor, with the position being filled by John Helin. In a statement, council noted the decision to remove Reece was a difficult one.
“The Band Council would like to be clear that their petition to remove the Mayor was not taken hastily or lightly. Band regulations were followed and reasonable time and opportunity was given to every councillor to participate,” they wrote.
“The decision is ultimately about the Mayor’s admitted unprofessional, inappropriate and damaging conduct with a staff member and the duty of council to uphold the integrity of our Band.”
Garry Reece could not immediately be reached for comment.