Anne Marsden reads a blistering delegation into the record - against the Public Conduct Policy

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2023



From time to time citizens appear before Council and do delegations that need to be remembered.

Jim Young once told Council where the power they have comes from – it should been cast in stone. Memorable

Today Anne Marsden, with her husband standing beside her addressed Council, Here is what she had to say.

If City officials expended as much time and effort on promoting engagement with community groups as they do on silencing honest opposition we might actually have a more politically active populace rather than one where civic involvement is moribund, and the citizens are essentially kept in the dark. Stephen White, Burlington Gazette Comments re. Trespass By-law.

Stephen, a regular viewer of Council meetings comments frequently said he does not agree with what Mayor Meed Ward sees emanating from those who have appeared at this lectern with cameras rolling, that for some people, led to the issuing of a two year trespass letter.

Anne Marsden giving one of the most passionate delegations heard for some time – she was strongly opposed to the Public Conduct Policy which Council passed.

Meed Ward had said: “We wanted to put in place some formal policies if there ever is another time where we have to ban somebody from City Hall.

“It has happened in the past; people who have engaged in offensive, abusive, sexist behaviour, harassing behaviour. You know, I like to tell folks we’re elected officials. We’re not punching bags. Our staff are not punching bags, we’re not there for you to beat up on.”

These comments from our Mayor are improper without statistical back up and should not be acceptable to any member of our council voting to adopt this by-law without such statistical back up.

Why the rush for this by-law. A rush that sees no staff presentation from the “lawyer” who took on the responsibility of producing such without any public engagement to explain why it is needed. We do not see any listing of incidents where the issuing of a trespass letter was necessary, and we all know the city like any other property owner has the ability to issue trespass letters with or without this by-law, whether they are deserved or not.

How many incidents have there been since the Recreation Department Corporate Policy this by-law replaces and has been waiting for review since December 2020 for such to protect Recreation Staff, public and volunteers from those who are deemed to display offensive behaviour in our community recreation programmes.?

Further, were there any incidents relative to our Mayor or indeed any member of council or staff being used as a “punching bag”.

The Mayor’s comments regarding the necessity for this by-law at this time do not carry any weight without statistics to back them up. The Mayor’s strong powers allows her to set this bylaw down, in fact we are informed she must sign a paper to say she won’t do so to have this by-law come into effect. Members of Council, PLEASE, carefully consider what you are doing in voting to adopt this by-law. Councillor Stolte in particular suffered what many of us considered an unprecedented attack that saw her leave this chamber, but that attack did not come from this lectern.

Members of council please do not equate “truth that comes to you from this lectern” as offensive behaviour, that requires a trespass letter. It is simply citizens taking up their hard earned democratic right to tell you, they do not agree with you or the price is too high no matter how much they would like what you are considering. The 3 million dollars of hydro reserve going on the LaSalle “wave break” for example when we could have hydro issues down the road, that could well need that money to keep the lights on in Burlington.

Anne Marsden, reading her delegation into the record at a Council meeting.

Madam Mayor please do the right thing and allow concerned citizens of Burlington the opportunity to have conversations with the “lawyer” in-house or otherwise who seemingly lacks an interest in protecting those who pay the bills from being able to stand at this lectern and have respectable conversations with those who we have elected to make decisions on our behalf. An appeal process is not an appeal process unless it is adjudicated by a party who holds no allegiance to either party which is not the case in this by-law.

Give us the stats, let us have conversations with the by-law’s author “Ryan” whoever that is and then bring the by-law back. If and only if, our new head of legal, Blake Hurley is then willing to stand at this lectern and tell us it is necessary to protect our council or staff, not from democratically based criticism but from those things the Mayor listed off should this council go down this very slippery slope from which there is no return.

Waiting from December, 2020 when the corporate policy review was supposed to take place, until our head of legal retired prior to bringing this by-law to the Council table for a vote, speaks volumes with regard to our past Head of Legal’s position on such a by-law. We are quite sure it would never have got past her review.

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1 comment to Anne Marsden reads a blistering delegation into the record – against the Public Conduct Policy

  • Joe Gaetan

    First and foremost, it seem like the proposed By-law may apply according to the record to some council members, verus the delegating public.
    Life Under A Tyrant’s Thumb, “The walls have ears” or “You’ll get into trouble for your tongue.”
    Source: Martha Mercer-The Sun-NewYork