CORNWALL, Ontario – Mayoral candidate Leslie O’Shaughnessy came out swinging Friday night, levelling a series of accusations at incumbent Bob Kilger, suggesting a culture of secrecy and intimidation exists at city hall.
In front of about 60 amassed at Ramada Inn in Cornwall Friday night, O’Shaughnessy took aim at Kilger suggesting he was lied to by the mayor, misled on various issues and that information pertinent to council decisions was willfully withheld.
His attack was short on plans for the future of the city, and long on the actions undertaken by the mayor and others within the city administration surrounding the Diane Shay case at the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge.
O’Shaughnessy hammered away at the case where Shay, a former nurse at the lodge, was retaliated against by the city for blowing the whistle on an abuse incident at the facility.
“What it comes down to is, what do we want our community to be?” he said, with Shay in the audience. “Do we want to be known for things like Diane Shay? That went national.
“Or do we want our community to be known for, number one, finding out what the issue is, what happened, fixing the problem and then sending the message that we’ll do our best that it never happens again. That’s the message I want to send, not that we retaliated against a whistleblower.”
The city plead guilty and was fined $15,000 in the case, and now faces a $425,000 lawsuit from Shay.
O’Shaughnessy said Kilger was not up front with residents about the case, and refused to make public several details.
Kilger was having none of it when contacted by Seaway News.
“Those accusations are totally false,” he said. “I’ve never bullied anyone in my time in office. From time to time we may express ourselves with a certain firmness…but I take great exception to those accusations.”
O’Shaghnessy got some support for his campaign from incubent Coun. Andre Rivette.
Rivette, who is seeking re-election, publicly threw his support behind O’Shaughnessy who quit midway through the last term in protest, in April 2010.
“Behind-the-door conversations and lobbying and that kind of stuff, it happens,” said Rivette. “So I think it’s important that we get a new start and the only way we’re going to get a new start is to vote Leslie O’Shaughnessy in.
“I don’t care who you vote around the council table, if you don’t have the information you’re not going to make the proper decision.”
O’Shaughnessy was so disgusted during his short term of office that not only would he have quit in protest again if afforded the opportunity to do it once more, it would have come months earlier.
O’Shaughnessy said he has more accusations, suggesting he and others – including Rivette – had been the subject of intimidation at the hands of Kilger.
“We teach our children, when they deal with intimidation and bullies, to come forward and talk to us, so we can help in some way,” he said. “There is more to come, and I’m not afraid to say it. If Diane Shay can go through six years of this, I can go through six weeks.”
O’Shaughnessy’s campaign website, leslieformayor.ca, is not yet operating but he promised it will include more details.