Nanaimo’s former city manager intends to sue the city and former and current council members, citing bullying, harassment and wrongful dismissal.
Tracy Samra, city chief administration officer from March 2016 until she was dismissed in May 2018, named former mayor Bill McKay and Coun. Sheryl Armstrong and the City of Nanaimo in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on May 31.
Samra claims she was “repeatedly bullied and harassed by McKay and Armstrong, each of whom engaged in a course of conduct of false allegations of fraud, misuse of public monies and other attacks on Samra’s character,” according to the notice. Further, the city took no steps to “stop the mistreatment of Samra, or take reasonable steps to discipline McKay or Armstrong,” Samra said in her claim.
According to Samra, McKay was said to have referred to her as “untrustworthy” to the city’s legal counsel and made “false and unfounded allegations of incompetency, misconduct, and criminal activity by Samra to council, city staff, the public” and Nanaimo RCMP. Samra also claims McKay said her hiring was “illegal” and she was “unqualified” and asked the B.C. government to “intervene and suspend” her.
After an altercation between Samra and former city councillor Wendy Pratt in January 2017, Samra claims McKay supported Pratt numerous times, including in a closed meeting a month later.
Samra also claims that McKay breached privacy and violated her rights after making public comments and answering questions from the media between February and May 2018, after she had been suspended.
McKay is also said to have falsely claimed that Samra took part in “criminal conduct” during an RCMP investigation into claims of fraud, according to the notice.
Some of the accusations against Armstrong include unsubstantiated claims of “misconduct and criminal activity by Samra” to city council, staff, residents and Nanaimo RCMP.
Samra also claims Armstrong followed her to her office in July 2017, refused to leave and urged her to step down.
“On Jan. 31, 2018, Armstrong used her position as an elected official and her former position as a RCMP officer with the Nanaimo RCMP detachment to call [the RCMP superintendent] and demand that Samra be arrested for allegedly uttering threats. As a result, Samra was taken into custody eight hours later,” the court documents claim.
Samra is seeking damages from the city for breach of contract, special damages, aggravated damages and punitive damages. She is seeking from McKay and Armstrong general damages for intentional infliction of mental suffering.
Samra was named interim CAO in November 2015 and took on the position full-time in March 2016.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Armstrong said she didn’t have a comment, as she didn’t know about the claim and has not been served with any notice yet.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the city has also not yet been served.
“I am aware of the claim, but the city has not been served and therefore no action is being taken presently,” Krog said in an e-mail. “I will not be making further comment.”
McKay did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The defendants have 21 days from being served with a notice to respond.