The Hamilton Spectator
‘Old-stock Canadians’ remark focus of councillor’s ejection
A verbal tussle over the term “everyday taxpayer” sparked the removal of a Hamilton city councillor who likened the utterance to former prime minister Stephen Harper’s use of “old-stock Canadians.”
Coun. Tom Jackson referred to the “everyday taxpayer” more than once during Tuesday’s budget session to express concern over a forecast hike of 6.8 per cent this year.
“It’s going upward, not levelling or going downwards,” the veteran councillor said.
Jackson said he was worried that extending “living wage” to more city workers and a plan to accelerate the creation of cycling infrastructure would negatively affect the “everyday taxpayer” in his east Mountain ward.
After the first utterance, Coun. Cameron Kroetsch responded “there is no everyday family; there is no everyday renter,” adding, “the city is diverse; we have a diverse workforce.”
In the second instance, Kroetsch said he’d discuss Jackson’s choice of words with him later in private, “but it sounds like old-stock Canadians to me.”
Such “language has been called out publicly for years,” said the new Ward 2 councillor, referring to Harper’s use of the term during the 2015 federal campaign.
The Conservative prime minister’s parlance was criticized as carrying xenophobic overtones and denounced as an attempt to sow division.
Jackson, in turn, said he hadn’t recalled Harper using the expression. Rather, his phrasing was to express “what I believe” and “what I’m hearing in my community.”
Moreover, he’d “continue to speak on behalf of my constituents to the best eloquent, knowledgeable and intelligent way that I can.”
“I don’t think anybody should tell me otherwise,” Jackson said.
Coun. Brad Clark, as meeting chair, asked Kroetsch to withdraw his “unparliamentary” comment, arguing he’d implied that Jackson had referred to “white Canadians,” which “you know that was not his intention.”
Kroetsch wouldn’t apologize, saying he’d told Jackson “this is what it sounded like” to him. “It’s the way that I received it and there’s nothing wrong with me saying that.”
Clark asked Kroetsch to leave the chamber after he again declined to withdraw his comment. His colleagues watched in silence as he packed up and left.
Coun. Maureen Wilson, in leading a challenge to overturn the chair’s decision, said she interpreted Kroetsch’s comments as “how he felt” in hearing Jackson’s choice of words. It’s “important for us to understand how that made him feel.”
But the challenge failed on a tie 6-6 vote.
Clark asked Kroetsch to leave the chamber after he again declined to withdraw his comment. His colleagues watched in silence as he packed up and left