Wife of city councillor in Sudbury, Ont., defended him on his Facebook page using a fake name

Greater Sudbury City Councillor Robert Kirwan

City councillors in Greater Sudbury, Ont., are keeping their integrity commissioner busy, with a second councillor facing reprimand in just a couple of months.

In this case, Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan knew his wife was posting on his public Valley East Facebook page using a fake name, defending Kirwan against critics.

"The Valley East Facebook Page is a social media site operated jointly by the councillor and his wife," said a report from integrity commissioner Robert Swayze.

"It provides municipal and other information to residents of Sudbury and is very active in the community."

It turns out a poster named 'Jessie Timmons' was actually Kirwan's wife, the report said. In at least one case, 'Timmons' defended Kirwan from criticism over his support of the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED).

"I attach only one example to this report made on June 30, 2021, which follows a post by Coun. Kirwan reporting on voting at council on a motion favouring the KED by named members of Council," Swayze wrote.

"The fictitious person follows with a post, criticizing members of council who voted against the KED matter."

Other posts were attacks on people criticizing Kirwan, he said.

In response, Kirwan said he never asked his wife to post anything, and said she needed a backup in case she had problems with the site.

"He has not explained why it was necessary to disguise her identity in the backup account," Swayze said.

When confronted by the integrity commissioner, Kirwan offered to ensure his wife doesn't make any more political posts if Swayze agreed to withdraw his report.

"He stated in his affidavit that he was aware that she was using the fictitious name and as an administrator of the page, he must have read them all or at least most of them," Swayze wrote.

The integrity commissioner recommended city council pass a formal reprimand for Kirwan for allowing his wife to post under a fake name.

While issuing that reprimand, Swayze also dismissed the second half of the anonymous complaint: that Kirwan had a conflict of interest in supporting the KED project.

That complaint lacked any evidence, he concluded.

"I hereby dismiss the part of the complaint which alleges a conflict of interest since no benefits of any kind from the developer were received by Coun. Kirwan," Swayze wrote.

Kirwan's reprimand follows two issued to Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier – one in March and one in July.

Montpellier was first reprimanded for public criticism of city CAO Ed Archer, and the second time for criticism of city fire management staff.

City council will review the report at their meeting Sept. 14. See the full report here.