Council will determine today how it wants to proceed with Deputy Mayor role and changes to the Procedural Bylaw

By Pepper Parr

March 21st, 2023



After a full day of discussion and debate City Council agreed on how the work they did on Procedural Bylaw revisions will come back for REVIEW. They will:

Direct the City Clerk to bring an amended Procedure By-law to the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee by the end of Q3 2023, incorporating feedback from the February 27, 2023, Council Workshop Committee meeting;

Lisa Kearns doing her daily photo op at a Regional Council meeting, was not able to attend the Workshop at which her role as Deputy Mayor for Citizen Engagement was discussed.

That could be as late as September.

How Deputy Mayors will do their work will come back by the end of June.

Direct the City Clerk to report back to the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee with proposed Deputy Mayor with Portfolio guidelines by the end of Q2 2023.

There has yet to be any public discussion on either of these initiatives. While they aren’t exactly interesting or subjects that are easily understood they are important.

The do pale when compared with the cost of food and what home owners are having to cope with when their mortgages come up for renewal.

One wonders if this council is relying on a lack of public interest.

What is on the agenda has to be passed by this Council today. Changes do get made but not that often.

It will be interesting to hear what ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns has to say. She was not able to take part in the Workshop for personal reasons. She has the capacity to spot the weak spots in an argument and will no doubt put forward trenchant remarks. Word is that she has amendments she wants to put forward at the Council meeting today.

The unfortunate part is this council has lost the ability to work together in a meaningful, useful way.

The Mayor chairs Council meetings and has the ability to do some agenda management. The last time she did that it blew up in her face.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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6 comments to Council will determine today how it wants to proceed with Deputy Mayor role and changes to the Procedural Bylaw

  • Gary Scobie

    I don’t believe I ever gave an advance copy of my delegation which I had in my hands at the lectern. I did provide a Powerpoint presentation on the one or two times I used one, because it was techically necessary ahead of time.

    I was once asked by a Councillor if I had sent in my delegation ahead of appearing. I replied that I don’t do that because I want everyone to pay attention to what I am saying (somewhat tongue in cheek, definitely cheeky). I didn’t want preconceived opinions jotted down in the margins of my text nor preconceived questions to be lobbed at me. I wanted Councillors to be engaged in the delegation and to have to think of and jot down their questions on the fly, like in school.

    I think it worked on occasion when there were quite a few questions and even a little bit of debate after the presentation (for shame!). The rules in place already make it a “crime” for a citizen to debate with Council in Chambers. We can ask questions in our delegations, but there is no obligation for Council to answer. They get to question us and we should try to answer as best we can, but not vice versa.

    So I am against anything new that further erodes dialogue between citizens and their Council, which most of these changes appear to be leading to. Openness and transparency are what these members of Council campaigned on (twice). Why is it so hard to achieve?

  • Lynn Crosby

    So the feedback that the Clerk is to use for amended procedure by-laws which affect the public’s ability to delegate and be heard by council is not the feedback of the public, but the feedback of council members at a workshop where delegations aren’t allowed? Got it. I have some feedback which I’ve given to my councillor and I will have much more after I see what happens today and what comes back.

    I also asked Councillor Stolte how she feels about the one whereby the Chair can demand a council member apologize and if she doesn’t, then she can be kicked out. Seriously? Yes, apologies which one gives because they were ordered to give them are so genuine and meaningful. . I did not get a reply.

    I take issue with the one saying they need to get our delegations in advance. Any claim that it’s in case technical issues happen isn’t good enough. Anyone should be allowed to speak off the cuff, bring up something based on what they heard from a prior delegate or a staff or council response etc. That is true two-way engagement.

    And the worst of all: giving the clerk and City Manager (and anyone else who may whisper in their ear) the power to nix a request to delegate based on their feeling that they decide in advance that the person is “likely to be” offensive or difficult or off topic. Really?? Every citizen has a right to delegate and they have to put up with us and wait to see what we say. If someone is truly offensive then shut it down then.

    Should be interesting today to hear what is said and what isn’t. And what sort of agenda management occurs. Lisa Kearns is the Deputy Mayor for Engagement: so will the Mayor and her colleagues truly consider her thoughts or disregard them? Does Council as a whole really care about opening up engagement rather than making by-laws to limit it further? We shall see.

    “Democracy dies in darkness” as the Washington Post slogan goes.

    • Dave Turner

      Lynn, I believe in our House of Commons and the Ontario Legislature the speaker will call upon a member to apologise for an unacceptable comment or statement. Failure to apologise likely will result in the member being kicked out of the chamber. You are right that a mandated apology likely holds no sincerity, but is an apology nevertheless. And is that not exactly what we teach our children when we make them apologise to another child they may have hurt in some way.

      I agree with you that pre-emptive banning of delegates is not right where there is no prior history of disruption or foul language. But as in the case of one well known commentor in this forum, where a history of bad behaviour is developed, a temporary banning is probably appropriate.

      • Blair Smith

        Mr. Turner – apologies for jumping in here. I feel that I really am over-extending my welcome but this area is one of great interest to me and somewhat ‘my wheelhouse’. There is quite a difference between both the House of Commons and Ontario Legislature and the Burlington ‘horseshoe table’. The number of members sitting in both of the former demands a degree of ‘crowd control’ that I would argue is unnecessary and inappropriate in most municipal settings. Even so, the protocol is really a vestige of another era (as is much of parliamentary protocol) and expulsion from the chamber is only enacted when one member refuses to apologize for impugning the integrity of another; generally openly calling out the veracity of another member’s statement. And there is no pre-emptive banning of a member on the assumption that he or she will not act appropriately. Another difference is that the Speakers in both Houses are elected members (actually twice elected; once by the people and once by the members of the legislative body). No one elected either the City Manager or the City Clerk and neither should be allowed to restrict a citizen’s ability to delegate. I find it disappointing that the City Clerk, a self-professed ‘open government advocate’, occasionally seems to constrain what I believe are fundamental ‘open government’ principles. This is my view, of course, but I would be more than willing to debate.

        • Dave Turner

          Mr. Smith you are mixing and matching. You are right there is no pre-emptive banning of members of at any level of govt. But legislatures do ban proven disruptive individuals from attending the visitors’ gallery. Disruptive citizens not only disrupt proceedings they impinge on the rights of other citizens. I cannot see how anyone can have a problem with an individual with a history of being disruptive being band for a period of time. But no one should be pre-emptively banned without transparent justification.

    • These are all Issues we have been addressing for years since the first hack job where MMW chaired an unofficial committee that kept no minutes calling changes housekeeping that needed no discussion. Engagement, transparency and accountability are gone will they ever return, not without some major changes
      at the Council table.