LETTER: City councillor says Waddington story downplayed seriousness of charges

‘Waddington abused his position of authority by making fictitious claims’ – Coun. Sue Knott

I am responding to the article in the Chilliwack Progress on Aug. 13, 2020 regarding Sam Waddington’s breach of trust charges. (“Breach of trust charges dropped against Waddington”.)

• READ MORE: Former Chilliwack city councillor’s breach of trust case resolved using ‘alternative measures’

In order for Mr. Waddington to escape the possibility of a criminal record he agreed to admit to his guilt, apologize to the taxpayers of Chilliwack and do some community service hours. The article in the paper downplays the seriousness of these charges. It is unfortunate that legal action had to be pursued in order for Mr. Waddington to finally admit fabricating expense claims and continuing to fabricate stories regarding fictitious meetings resulting in these false expenses when questioned by then city councillor Chuck Stam and then mayor, Sharon Gaetz.

While some debate may take place over the final dollar amount of fraudulent expenses, council’s focus has remained on the importance or serving our community with honesty and integrity. It is difficult to value the importance of public trust, but we know that once it is lost, it is nearly impossible to regain. Every member of council knows how important it is for residents to have confidence in their elected officials. Acting with honour and integrity is an integral part of representing our community, our previous expense claim system expected elected officials to be truthful when submitting claims. After Mr. Waddington abused his position of authority by making fictitious claims, we adjusted the policy to ensure such blatant abuse would not happen again.

On a personal level, I have always felt that anyone in a position of authority must be held to a higher standard of integrity and honesty. I am deeply disappointed by Mr. Waddington’s repeated attempts to fabricate stories to cover his tracks. His apology was thin and self-promoting in my opinion. The fact that Crown counsel chose to pursue only the two claims in question does not preclude the City of Chilliwack from recovering further possible fabricated claims identified in a civil suit. I will be pushing to be sure that every avenue to recover misappropriated taxpayer dollars, demonstrated by the audit, are recovered, and disclosed to the public.

I cannot thank Sharon Gaetz and Chuck Stam enough for their courage and leadership in this matter. You will forever have my respect and gratitude.

Councillor Sue Knott

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