Mayor deals with point of priv­i­lege con­cern

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

Two CBRM coun­cil­lors now be­lieve they aren’t owed apologies.

Two mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lors say they don’t be­lieve apologies are owed to them af­ter a con­tro­ver­sial ex­change at a re­cent coun­cil meet­ing and they hope to move past the is­sue.

Last week Dist. 11 Coun. Ken­dra Coombes in­tro­duced a point of priv­i­lege re­gard­ing the ex­change that oc­curred in the coun­cil cham­ber last month when the nom­i­na­tion of Dist. 8 Coun. Amanda McDougall to the re­gional solid waste com­mit­tee ver­sus a more se­nior mem­ber of coun­cil who pre­vi­ously sat on the com­mit­tee but who wasn’t nom­i­nated for the po­si­tion — was de­bated.

Coombes said she be­lieved McDougall, Dist. 2 Coun. Ear­lene MacMullin and her­self, as well as staff and the cit­i­zens of the Cape Breton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity were owed an apol­ogy for what she con­sid­ered to be “sex­ist, in­ap­pro­pri­ate, and un­pro­fes­sional lan­guage.”

Mayor Ce­cil Clarke of­fi­cially re­sponded to Coombes’ point of priv­i­lege at a coun­cil meet­ing this week.

Clarke said the is­sues most of note in Coombes com­ments were the use of the term sex­ist and the ref­er­ence to two other coun­cil­lors.

He noted that, as part of his due dili­gence as chair, he wrote to McDougall and MacMullin ask­ing if Coombes’ point of priv­i­lege re­flected how they felt.

“No, I do not,” MacMullin wrote in her re­ply to Clarke, which the mayor read into the record of the meet­ing. “I re­viewed the meet­ing, and al­though I did not like or agree with some of the state­ments made, I can­not state the lan­guage used was sex­ist, in­ap­pro­pri­ate or un­pro­fes­sional.”

MacMullin noted she has re­solved any is­sues she had with in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lors.

McDougall replied that while she ap­pre­ci­ated what Coombes said, she didn’t agree that any coun­cil col­leagues had made sex­ist com­ments about her. She noted she has had many con­ver­sa­tions with other coun­cil­lors since and they have apol­o­gized if she was of­fended by what they said. She added she thought it was time to move on, as “a great deal of pos­i­tiv­ity” has come from the day.

Clarke said the de­bate was duly con­sti­tuted.

“De­bates can be in­tense and they can be heated, but also par­lia­men­tary prac­tice and tra­di­tions al­low for that, ex­cept for when there’s un­par­lia­men­tary lan­guage,” Clarke said.

This week, coun­cil was to un­dergo train­ing on par­lia­men­tary pro­ce­dure in­clud­ing ar­eas such as mo­tions, amend­ments, ef­fec­tive and in­ef­fec­tive chair, deco­rum and de­bate, code of con­duct, coun­cil-staff re­la­tions and meet­ing dis­trac­tions.

Clarke noted staff has also fol­lowed up with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs which has of­fered train­ing for coun­cil­lors on top­ics in­clud­ing roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, con­flict of in­ter­est, by­laws and fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy. The mu­nic­i­pal clerk and di­ver­sity of­fi­cer are also work­ing on di­ver­sity and sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing.

Clarke said those pro­cesses were un­der­way prior to Coombes rais­ing the point of priv­i­lege.

“De­bates can be in­tense and they can be heated, but also par­lia­men­tary prac­tice and tra­di­tions al­low for that, ex­cept for when there’s un­par­lia­men­tary lan­guage.” Mayor Ce­cil Clarke


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