Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown’s first public council meeting ended with a heated debate over standing committees.
On Monday night, council dealt with the makeup of the council advisory committee, which is comprised of two councillors, the mayor and the chief administrative officer (CAO), who sits in a non-voting capacity.
It’s the job of this committee to issue a recommendation to council as to the makeup of the standing committees and who will chair them.
On Friday, Brown told The Guardian that Coun. Bob Doiron moved a notice of motion to have Deputy Mayor Jason Coady and Coun. Alanna Jankov as the two councillors for the advisory committee.
That didn’t sit well with some members of council on Monday night who said the rules set out in the Municipal Governance Act (MGA) are that nominations have to come from the floor.
At times Monday night, Brown disagreed with his CAO Peter Kelly’s interpretation of the rule and the city’s legal counsel.
In the end, council voted Doiron’s motion down. Coun. Mitchell Tweel then nominated councillors Mike Duffy and Terry MacLeod to the advisory committee. Council approved that motion by a vote of 8-2 with Coady and Doiron in opposition.
Some members of the public who filled the council chamber were angry with the outcome, especially with the fact the advisory committee now doesn’t include a woman’s perspective.
“Disgusting,’’ said one man.
Coun. Terry Bernard was one of the more vocal councillors to speak out, saying nominations for the committee had to come from the floor.
“That’s the way the procedure was written so the discussion was that the proper procedure or not,’’ Bernard said, referring to Doiron’s initial motion. “The CAO was saying the floor is supposed to be open so we asked for legal opinion and (the city’s lawyer) confirmed it.’’
Brown said he was on board with Doiron’s nominations. Not only was there a woman on the committee but Coady and Jankov represent two completely different geographic ends of the city.
“The two names submitted by Coun. Doiron represented geographic diversity, gender equality and a mix of the old and new,’’ Brown said. “What we (ended up with) tonight was two veteran councillors, two males. I just wanted to have a mix, some new ideas, some new blood and new energy to lay out the committee membership, terms of references and criteria for qualifications.’’
Brown fought hard Monday night for Doiron’s choices.
“I pushed because he followed the process and I was using as my support the newly minted procedural bylaw. I didn’t write the report, the old council (did).’’
In the end, Brown said he wants to get working on serious issues the city is faced with and doesn’t want to get bogged down with the debate that happened Monday night.
“I’m going to work with what was voted on tonight. I’m not going to slow down the process. (Let’s) select these committees and get to the business of council. I’m moving forward.’’
Council will have the final say on the makeup of the standing committees.