VICTORIA – A special prosecutor has been appointed after the mayor says threats were allegedly uttered against him and a councillor at city hall in Nanaimo, B.C.
The British Columbia Prosecution Service said Wednesday that Michael Klein was appointed after an individual was arrested as a result of the alleged incidents, though no details were provided.
A special prosecutor’s role is intended to avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice in light of the allegations and because some complainants are elected municipal officials, it said in a statement.
Mayor Bill McKay said Tuesday he was contacted by the RCMP on Jan. 31 about alleged verbal threats that were made against him and Coun. Dianne Brennan.
McKay was not present for the threats. He said the RCMP told him a witness contacted them about the threats that allegedly occurred at city hall earlier that day.
“The threats were against our lives and our property,” he said, adding that he didn’t have any specific details. “It was very concerning, there’s no doubt about that.”
Brennan declined comment in an email on Tuesday due to “extremely sensitive legal and HR concerns.”
McKay said the city would conduct its own investigation into the threats, which is mandated by the province’s workplace safety agency.
Klein is a senior Vancouver lawyer who has been asked to provide legal advice to RCMP investigators, assess any charges and conduct the prosecution if charges are approved. He was appointed last Friday but it wasn’t announced until Wednesday.
The prosecution service, Klein and the RCMP declined comment.
Klein is the second special prosecutor appointed to investigate municipal affairs in Nanaimo.
A separate investigation by a special prosecutor into allegations involving the city council ended in October without charges being laid. At the time, the prosecution service said the matter related to an unnamed councillor who was arrested and released on conditions, but the issue was resolved without the need for court proceedings.
In December, the city dropped a lawsuit against McKay, who councillors accused of leaking confidential information to an employee. McKay denies the allegation.
The city government has been a difficult environment for several years, McKay said.
“I can’t emphasize enough how strenuous and straining this has been for our employees, myself and my family. You can only imagine what they’re thinking. After three years of turmoil, for it to get to this,” he said.
“It’s a very trying time and I certainly want to continue to keep a close watch. I’ll continue to be in contact with the employees that I’m aware were here at the time to ensure that they’re safe and try to support them as much as I possibly can.”