Re­sponse was wrong: Friel

Use of ex­ple­tive causes mayor to step away from me­di­a­tion process over bound­ary deal

The Expositor (Brantford) - - FRONT PAGE - VIN­CENT BALL EX­POS­I­TOR STAFF

Brant­ford Mayor Chris Friel says he should not have used pro­fan­ity when he felt his in­tegrity was ques­tioned at an Au­gust meet­ing in­volv­ing city, Brant County and Six Na­tions of­fi­cials.

“While the re­mark to in­cite my re­ac­tion was ab­so­lutely un­called for, in ret­ro­spect I should have re­sponded dif­fer­ently,” Friel said in a state­ment Wednesday. “As I have con­sis­tently demon­strated since I first took of­fice 23 years ago, I’m a very pas­sion­ate and vo­cal ad­vo­cate for In­dige­nous is­sues.

“I care deeply about these is­sues and the Six Na­tions com­mu­nity.”

Friel is­sued the state­ment in re­sponse to ques­tions from The Ex­pos­i­tor about an Aug. 9 meet­ing in­volv­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Six Na­tions, Brant­ford and Brant County. The meet­ing was held to de­ter­mine if a me­di­a­tion process is needed to ad­dress con­cerns from Six Na­tions that they had not been prop­erly con­sulted with re­spect to the Brant­ford-Brant County bound­ary deal.

The deal, with pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment ap­proval, trans­ferred 2,719 hectares of county ter­ri­tory to the city and came into ef­fect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The Au­gust meet­ing was held un­der the guid­ance of Michael Bryant, a for­mer On­tario at­tor­ney gen­eral, who was asked to look into the mat­ter by Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne.

Dur­ing the meet­ing. Phil Mont u re, the Six Na­tions land claims re­searcher, said to Friel: “That is why I don’t trust you.”

In re­sponse, Friel said, “F--- you, Phil,” and left the meet­ing.

Friel, in his state­ment, said he was frus­trated by Mon­ture’s re­mark be­cause of his years of work in build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with Six Na­tions.

“This (Brant­ford – Six Na­tions) is a re­la­tion­ship I’ve worked hard to strengthen for decades so nat­u­rally I was frus­trated that my in­tegrity was un­fairly ques­tioned.”

Friel de­clined to be in­ter­viewed about the meet­ing and his state­ment be­cause he said that, at the out­set of the Au­gust meet­ing, ev­ery­one there agreed that the dis­cus­sion and any re­lated doc­u­ments would be held in con­fi­dence.

“I am very dis­ap­pointed to learn that com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­lated to this meet­ing have been made pub­lic,” Friel said. “In re­spect of that agree­ment, I won’t go into any de­tail about our dis­cus­sion ex­cept to ex­press that, in the spirit of col­lab­o­ra­tion, I went into this meet­ing with good in­ten­tions.”

In an email to city coun­cil­lors, Friel said that an­other mem­ber of coun­cil should be part of the me­di­a­tion process going for­ward and has sug­gested he be re­placed by Ward 4 Coun. Ch­eryl An­toski. As well, Friel said that he is will­ing to step away from any vot­ing on the mat­ters to en­sure that there re­mains in­tegrity in the process.

Six Na­tions elected Chief Ava Hill said the in­ci­dent has strained re­la­tions be­tween her com­mu­nity and the city.

“Mayor Friel’s ac­tions were very dis­turb­ing,” Hill said in an Aug. 17 let­ter sent to Brant­ford city coun­cil­lors.

“My coun­cil­lors and staff were deeply of­fended to be sub­ject to such a dis­play of dis­re­spect and un­pro­fes­sion­al­ism from an elected of­fi­cer of the City of Brant­ford.

“The mayor’s ac­tions will cer­tainly

put a strain on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the city and Six Na­tions with re­spect to any fur­ther dis­cus­sions on any is­sue.”

Hill did not re­turn phone calls from The Ex­pos­i­tor seek­ing com­ment for this story.

Brant Mayor Ron Eddy said that the meet­ing con­tin­ued after Friel left be­cause “the rest of us felt it was im­por­tant to try to find an agree­ment.”

He said he is look­ing for­ward to a sec­ond meet­ing that is be­ing ar­ranged by Bryant.

“We need to have that meet­ing,” he told Ex­pos­i­tor re­porter Michael-Al­lan Marion.

“If an agree­ment can be reached, we have to find it. I’m into mov­ing for­ward.”

Friel, in his e-mail to city coun­cil­lors, said the Au­gust meet­ing was the re­sult of re­quest from Hill di­rectly to the pre­mier for me­di­a­tion over the bound­ary is­sue. The meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Friel’s e-mail, was to in­volve the heads of coun­cils to de­ter­mine if a me­di­ated process was needed and how it would be pre­sented to each of the three coun­cils.

Six Na­tions was rep­re­sented by Hill, as well as coun­cil­lors Bob John­son, Carl Hill, Terry Gen­eral and Lonny Bomberry, direc­tor of lands and re­sources, and Mon­ture. Brant was rep­re­sented by Eddy and CAO Paul Emer­son, while the city was rep­re­sented by Friel, CAO Dar­ryl Lee and city solic­i­tor Heidi De­Vries.

Ac­cord­ing to Hill’s let­ter, Friel and Mon­ture “ex­pressed dif­fer­ing opin­ions of the 1997 agree­ment for ser­vices in the north­west of the city.”

At that point, the meet­ing de­te­ri­o­rated.

“After a bit of a de­bate and heated words,” Hill’s let­ter states, “Phil Mon­ture did say to Mayor Friel, ‘That is why I don’t trust you.’ Friel be­came “very” ag­i­tated, raised his voice, yelled at Phil and stood up as if to leave the room,” ac­cord­ing to Hill’s let­ter. “As he was leav­ing the room, he (Friel) said, ‘F... you, Phil,’” the let­ter states.

Friel re­turned a few min­utes later, packed his brief­case and left the meet­ing say­ing, “Good luck.”

But Friel, in his e-mail sent to coun­cil­lors, de­fended his record on In­dige­nous is­sues. “After 23 years (16 as mayor) of be­ing one of the most vo­cal ad­vo­cates for In­dige­nous is­sues, I was floored by such a rude and un­called for com­ment,” Friel said. “I con­sider that com­ment to go to the very heart of my per­sonal in­tegrity, and I replied to Phil Mon­ture in frus­tra­tion “F--- you, Phil” and left the meet­ing.

“I con­tacted Michael Bryant the next day via email and said, in light of Six Na­tions com­ments that ‘they don’t trust me,’ that it would be ap­pro­pri­ate for me to leave the me­di­a­tion.”

Friel also said that he tried to call Hill twice the next day but re­ceived no re­turn phone calls.

“Chief Hill’s at­tempt here to po­lit­i­cally em­bar­rass me leads me to be­lieve that this me­di­a­tion has more to do with Six Na­tions pol­i­tics rather than try­ing to ad­vance a true part­ner­ship,” Friel said in his e-mail to coun­cil­lors.

The mayor also said in his email that, in De­cem­ber 2015, he met with Hill in his of­fice to lay out the bound­ary pro­gram the city was work­ing to­ward, seek­ing part­ner­ships with Six Na­tions.

“Chief Hill never chose to take us up on the of­fer,” Friel said.

The mayor said he is re­mov­ing him­self from the me­di­a­tion process be­cause of the im­por­tance of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the city and Six Na­tions.

“Per­haps fresh views will soften Six Na­tions po­si­tions and move

them to­ward a pro­gram of part­ner­ship,” Friel said.

“I re­main com­mit­ted per­son­ally to sup­port­ing In­dige­nous is­sues, I will al­ways be a vo­cal ad­vo­cate, but I can’t be in­volved in a process in which my in­volve­ment will be a detri­ment.”

Friel is fac­ing no dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, sanc­tion or cen­sure as a re­sult of his use of pro­fan­ity at the meet­ing, a spokesper­son for the city said in re­sponse to a ques­tion from The Ex­pos­i­tor.

My coun­cil­lors and staff were deeply of­fended to be sub­ject to such as dis­play of dis­re­spect and un­pro­fes­sion­al­ism from an elected of­fi­cer of the City of Brant­ford.” Six Na­tri­ons elected Chief Ava Hill

Friel

Hill

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