What started as an attempt to define a process for Council to agree on a strategic agenda to approach issues affecting the Town over the next four years, ultimately erupted into arguments over councillors continued failure to communicate.
Mayor McKay’s agenda was dominated by discussion of process and protocol. Council eventually, through a series of votes, reached a consensus on accommodating the views primarily of four Councillors. Councilors will meet in camera, co-chaired by Councillors File and Pendlebury using a rigidly defined agenda agreed to prior to the session. Councillors File and Pendlebury will prepare a report for Council. The intention is to circulate the report to the public for comment.
Penetanguishene Council and staff challenged Midland Council and staff to wear the hockey jersey of the opposing side should that side wins an upcoming tournament. Mayor McKay introduced, on behalf of Midland Council & Staff, a resolution to accept. What resulted was a resolution exempting four councillors who objected on the basis of concern about dual allegiances, concerns on hygiene, and a concern about inappropriately promoting rivalry at a time when the two towns are working towards increased co-operation. By rebuffing a gesture made in the spirit of good fun and friendly competition, this Council continues to show it can’t work as a team.
Mayor McKay then brought forward the notion that communication within Council and amongst Councillors was fractious to say the least. He stated it was early days and so lets learn to speak candidly, openly, without suspicion and with respect for fellow Councillors. Upon opening discussion to the floor it became just how polarized Council has become.
A bitter discussion erupted about Councillors distributing e-mails allegedly impugning the name and actions of other Councillors. These e-mails had apparently been circulated to the entire Council, senior Staff and Town employees without once extending the courtesy of a face to face discussion. Another set of e-mails apparently show four Councillors colluded to derail the efforts to arrive at a strategic direction for council. A hot debate ensued. One of the four Councillors eventually admitted to writing some of the e-mails in question.
The evening degenerated into what is best described as farce then tragedy. Four Councillors, announced they would not remain in Council since bringing up dirty laundry in Public had eroded any progress made that evening. Two stormed out of Chambers while two remained log enough to hear Councillor File request they take calm and a reasoned approach from all sides. With the evening in disarray, Mayor MacKay then called for a motion to adjourn that was seconded and carried.
Confronted by their peers, with what their peers considered inappropriate behavior. four Councillors abandoned their seat while Council was still in session. It is abundantly clear that they will not work with the larger Council for the good of the Town and clearly set their own interests first.
This Council has demonstrated both at meetings, and apparently through their e-mails, that a pronounced animosity exists amongst its membership. In our opinion none of the Councillors, except Councillor File, helped improve the communication problem. All seemed more concerned about their egos and what happened in the past than making constructive suggestions. Is it necessary that Councillors get along? Maybe all we need is for them to do their jobs, speak to each other courteously and vote to what’s best for the town and not block voting based on who initiated the idea.