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Barrie's mayor required police protection due to threats

'Unfortunately, it seems to come with the territory these days, but that doesn’t make it OK,' says Barrie mayor
2020-11-13 Mayor Jeff Lehman crop
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman is shown in a file photo.

Threats made to Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman resulted in police protection during his time in office.

“Yes, I had police protection, in person, at their suggestion several years ago due to threats made online and in person by an individual,” he told BarrieToday. “And several times since there have been threats made against me and my family by phone, anonymous e-mail and online that have been investigated by Barrie police, especially during COVID.

“Unfortunately, it seems to come with the territory these days, but that doesn’t make it OK,” the mayor added. “I think this stuff is part of the reason good people don't run for council.”

Lehman first spoke publicly about police protection during the Sept. 21 council meeting.

It was during discussion of continued council support for the Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, a provincial bill that would create a process for municipal councils to remove their members who violate workplace violence and harassment policies.

Coun. Sergio Morales tried to amend a direct motion that the city reissue its letter of support for the Act to local MPPs, Liberal Orleans MPP Stephen Blais, the bill’s sponsor, Premier Doug Ford, the minister of municipal affairs, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Morales’s amendment asked the province to explore ways for municipalities to deal with members of the public who are vexatious harassers, ways that comply with the Municipal Act.

Morales withdrew the amendment when it became clear it would not pass — not necessarily because councillors didn’t support it, but more that it didn’t fit with the main motion supporting the Act.

“The point has been made and we’d like to bring it back later (for discussion),” Morales said.

Council is not scheduled to meet again until after the Oct. 24 city election.

Lehman is not seeking re-election after three terms as Barrie mayor and one term as Ward 2 councillor.