CFN – On Monday, April 16, I decided to get more involved in the city’s municipal life and attended the special meeting of the council, which was to decide how it would replace the departing Councillor Leslie O’Shaughnessy.
We all remember that right after the announcement of his resignation, the Council announced that a “ghost” committee, that nobody had heard of, was proposing amendments to the bylaw governing the replacement of a member of council. The population has been asking questions about the sudden change of a bylaw that had already been amended in 2005 and 2010. Why this sudden change, which is the result of a non-advertised and non-public process?
The six citizens present in the Council’s Chamber had the unique opportunity to witness a perfect travesty of democracy. Directed by the Mayor, assisted by the Clerk, the travesty began somewhat late. Unfortunately, we do not know the author of the script, but it is not excluded that the CEO could be one of the collaborators.
The councillor-actors mastered their roles to perfection and it was impossible to identify any mistakes in their stage performances.
Councillor Maurice Dupelle, a member of the ghost committee, reassured the public about the intentions of the committee by insisting that it is simply a question of timing that the proposed amendments were being made public right then. His tone lacked conviction, but given that he’s a new member of the Municipal Theater Company of Cornwall, his stage performance was passable.
Given his seniority, Councillor Denis Carr was entitled to a leading role: the councillor who questions the Clerk and who wants to be sure of the extent of the bylaw changes. Unfortunately, he was content to believe the explanations of the Clerk for whom the changes were minor because they conform to the Municipal Act. I would like to inform Councillor Carr that there is no relationship between the extent of the changes and compliance with the law. One should not even have to be a councillor to notice that the difference between the 2010 bylaw and the newly proposed bylaw is not a matter of wording but that there are important modifications. Even more serious is the fact that he accepted as normal that the ghost committee worked for three months without any minutes recording the deliberations of the committee.
The performance of Councillor Grant brought tears to my eyes and it is only the solemnity of the place that prevented me from applauding his performance. He acknowledged that the municipal council has lost the confidence of the citizens and must make efforts to restore that trust. However, he too was unable to recognise or see that the bylaw’s changes are important ones. To restore confidence one has to have some credibility.
Councillor Bernadette Clement rose to the occasion in the starring role that was entrusted to her: a long speech with a vague and imprecise content that sounded good but did not clarify anything specific. As a lawyer and a member of the ghost committee, she confirmed that the changes are minor (the official line) and added that that it was done to reflect what the municipal council wants. I have always believed that in a democracy what is important is what the people want. Maybe I am wrong.
The others councillors had rather supporting roles.
The Mayor and the Councillors voted unanimously to appoint Gerald Samson, the eleventh person on the electoral list as a replacement for O’Shaughnessy.
One might ask why change the bylaw at all if, in any case, all the councillors ultimately decided to designate the eleventh person on the electoral list, as provided for by the old bylaw?
It is likely that the change, supposedly minor, has nothing to do with O’Shaughnessy’s resignation, but rather with the future possible resignation of Mayor Kilger.
In the 2010 bylaw, the mayor and the councillors are treated the same way, meaning that if the mayor resigns, one of the possibilities is to replace him with the next candidate on the list.
In the new bylaw, a separate section pertaining exclusively to the mayor was added, which eliminates the possibility of appointing the next person on the list and adds the possibility of appointing a member of the current municipal council. The new bylaw, prepares the transition, without an election, of royal power. We are more than two years from the next election and choosing to appoint a council member seems very undemocratic. None of the current councillors, including those who are in their second term or more, have campaigned on a platform containing a vision for the future of our city.
If one considers the mistakes made by the Council during the first part of its mandate, mistakes that have cost the taxpayers about $1.4 million, there in no one on the Council who deserves the post of mayor, including the mayor himself who’s the main person responsible for this financial disaster.
The travesty of democracy continued with the announcement by Mayor Kilger that he will run for another term. In the prepared script, this announcement was to divert public attention from the fact that the new bylaw quietly prepares the transfer of royal power to someone from the same circle. In a few months, the mayor could easily announce that due to personal and health problems that he’s obliged to resign.
It’s hard to believe that ten people, democratically elected to represent us, could mount a travesty of democracy similar to that which was held Monday, April 16, and argue that it was done to reflect what council wants and not the needs of the citizens. I have rarely seen more contempt and arrogance from elected people towards democracy and the people who elected them.
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