Deputy Mayor sticks to guns
But council accepts blanket public apology and allows citizen to stay
Cyril Winsor made an appearance at the Carbonear council meeting last week for the first time since Jan. 11.
That’s when Deputy Mayor Ches Ash first reiterated his call for the Bunker Hill resident to apologize to council for his behaviour at a Dec. 21, 2009 council meeting.
Ash felt at the time that Winsor should not be permitted to return to council chambers until he apologizes to council and to Councillor Gladys Mercer in particular.
The deputy mayor had first called for the apology after Winsor had called Coun. Mercer “a witch” and used other unparliamentary language in the council chambers before storming out of the Dec. 21 meeting.
Winsor apologized to council at the Jan. 11 meeting. But as far as apologizing to Coun. Mercer is concerned, he said: “It’s not going to happen. I’ll apologize to council.” Reminding council, “you are one body” he felt at the time his apology to council should suffice.
While council did not ask Winsor to leave the Jan. 11 council meeting, Dep. Mayor Ash said, “as long as he has the understanding his attendance (at future council meetings) is conditional on an apology to Coun. Mercer.”
Winsor’s attendance at last week’s (March 16) council did not go unnoticed by Dep. Mayor Ash. On a point of privilege, Ash told council it was still his understanding that Mr. Winsor “would only be permitted to attend a council meeting upon an apology to council and in particular to Coun. Mercer.”
Dep. Mayor Ash asked Mayor Sam Slade for a ruling on the issue.
Mayor Slade said as far as he was concerned, when Mr. Winsor apologized to council he was also apologizing to Coun. Mercer, who is a member of council.
“I beg to differ with you on that,” Dep. Mayor Ash responded.
The mayor went on to say Mr. Winsor’s apology had not only been made to council in chambers but was also carried “in the local newspaper.”
Mayor Slade reminded council that, “when we put our names on the ballot...” we do so expecting that, from time to time we are going to be called names... If we got to ask everyone who says any- thing about us...for apologies...we are going to have a long, long line up here.
“If we can’t stand the heat, perhaps we shouldn’t be in the kitchen,” Mayor Slade suggested.
Pointing out people in public service are often called names, and it can be disturbing, Coun. David Kennedy felt perhaps “it requires more of an apology to Mrs. Mercer than to ourselves.”
Since Coun. Mercer was not present for the Jan. 11 council meeting, and last week was the first time the issue had been raised since then, it was also her first opportunity to speak to it.
“ This is my fourth term on council and I’ve always tried to be fair to everyone,” she said. While councillors may be called many things privately, Coun. Mercer said people have generally been respectful to her in public. “Never, ever have I been called anything but Coun. Mercer or Mrs. Mercer.”
She thanked council for supporting the issue. But as far as she is concerned, “it’s over - what was said was said!”
Suggesting she serves her time on council “ freely,” Mercer admitted she’s not always right, but she is always trying to do the best she can for the citizens of Carbonear.
In fact Coun. Mercer and the other members of council are paid (remuneration) for their service on council.
At this point Dep. Mayor Ash re-entered the debate. “Mr. Mayor,” he said, “this does not have (anything) to do with taking heat or getting out of the kitchen. It has to do with certain standards and decorum.
Admitting anyone can loose their cool and say things they may not mean, Ash said, “Mr. Winsor went beyond what were acceptable standards. He made insulting remarks and used inappropriate language and we should insist - this chamber should insist that he apologize.”
Pointing out that “sometimes tempers will flare,” Mayor Slade felt confident that if Mr. Winsor had his time back he wouldn’t have said what he said...”
Again he reiterated that Mr. Winsor had made his apology, not only in chambers ( Jan. 11) “ but also publicly in the local newspaper.” As far as Mayor Slade is concerned, “that should suffice.”
After apologizing to council first for his behaviour at the Dec. 21, 2009 meeting, Winsor ended up leaving the Jan. 11 meeting as well, asking council on his way out the door: “ Why are you people always lying?”
Three days later he called The Compass wanting to retract what he had said at the meeting. Admitting to having called council a bunch of “ liars,” he wanted to apologize to council for his behaviour.
Mayor Slade said last week council has a tough job to do “in making rational decisions on behalf of the town of Carbonear.”
Now serving his fifth term on council, Slade said he was sure he has been called many things over those years.
“Have they done it (name calling) in these chambers and in public,” Dep. Mayor Ash asked the mayor?
“I don’t think anyone has disrespected you in this chamber like this,” Coun. Mercer interjected. “I’ve been around a long time and I haven’t heard anyone do so,” she said.
Rookie councillor, Ed. Goff said, “we all take criticism but we shouldn’t have to take any abuse.”
Concluding she is “ fine” with the outcome, Mercer said, “ I haven’t been called anything worse.”
Meanwhile, Cyril Winsor remained for the rest of the council meeting without a word.