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367 Fourth Ave, PO Box 601, Matheson, ON P0K 1R0
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For Immediate Release

March 21, 2024

Statement from the Office of the Mayor – Absent Council Members

I am writing this press release as the Mayor of Black River-Matheson. In this capacity, I am the one person on Council that speaks for the entire community rather than a single ward. I am deeply troubled by the recent press releases on Facebook and in the news attributed to Councillors Campsall, Dyment, and Gadoury. It's crucial that I address these statements.

In the releases, the three Councillors have claimed that Council is at a standstill and unable to achieve the things needed to operate the Municipality. Their solution? To intentionally boycott Council meetings for 60-days, after which the Municipal Act provides that, due to a failure to obtain quorum, the Minster may, by order, declare all the offices of the Councillors to be vacant and a by-election will be held.

This plan is terribly misguided. Councillors are elected to participate in Council meetings. That duty begins with regular attendance, and involves considering the materials presented to them, debating issues vigorously, and accepting the results of Council votes. In a democratic Council this will sometimes mean that the agenda of one Councillor may not align with others. This reality should not cause the dissentient Councillor to withdraw from debate and refuse to attend. In law, being absent is different than resigning. It has a legal consequence which can result - in some circumstances - in the dismissal of all of Council, but, such a result is drastic. It is not what should happen because a Councillor is unsuccessful in winning a vote on a particular matter.

In my view, the actions of the three Councillors are confounding. Our Council worked well until February 27, when the three decided not to attend. Before February 27, we always had quorum, there was nearly always debate, there was compromise and discussion. Councillors Dyment and Gadoury participated. After he was appointed so did Mr. Campsall. Their claim that things are not progressing is wrong. Some matters may not be progressing in ways they like, but quitting is not the solution. Coming to Council well prepared and ready to debate in the best interests of the community is the right and proper thing to do.

One matter that the Facebook commentators agitate about is management salaries. Councillors Gadoury and Dyment cannot claim that they were not aware or involved. In fact, Councillor Dyment was involved in reviewing the report of an external expert on pay practices. This person surveyed other municipalities, applied professional standards, and made recommendations in 2022 for a revised management salary grid with 5 steps to be effective until 2027. Every Councillor including Dyment had the opportunity to hear the explanations of the expert, to ask questions and to debate the proposal. They did those things and ultimately Council approved the report and the salaries with increases that were involved. In 2023, policies in relation to pay equity and staff pay management were presented and adopted by Council, which Councillor Gadoury was exposed to. So, neither Councillor can claim ignorance nor dysfunction. If they have now changed their minds, they can admit that frankly on Facebook and accept the criticism that naysayers like to level but, they cannot say truthfully that Council failed to function.

The same can be said of the present collective bargaining. These Councillors were involved in the mandate process. They had the chance to hear from the management bargaining team and to learn and approve a bargaining mandate for the negotiating team. Subsequently, in camera, they have heard more about the process. They have had the ability to speak up and argue for change. They have voted to support the present mandate. Council processes operated. There was no dysfunction.

However, Management has now learned that there was a breach of confidentiality in relation to bargaining. The Employer has credible evidence that at least one of the Councillors who are staying away from Council shared secret employer bargaining information with the Union. We believe this breach may have been ongoing for some time. Since the Union apparently had an inside track to the employer strategy, it appears they prolonged the strike hoping the Councillor who was leaking information might convince Council to give in to the Union. That false hope has extended the strike by misleading the Union. They should have known better, and the exchange of secret information was an unfair labor practice. Unfortunately for the Union, the leaky Councillor did not change the minds of Council, that person failed. Now, in the face of that failure, with the strike in its 22nd week, the Councillors choose to avoid their responsibilities rather than return to Council to be confronted with their misconduct. If there is now dysfunction, they created it.

These same Councillors have the ability to remedy their wrongs. They can return to work, face the music in Council, engage in debate about their views and see if they can effect change. They cannot do that by staying home and shutting down COUNCIL.

There are also allegations which have been filed against the Township and the three Councillors respecting their conduct with management. It is alleged that their lack of support has undermined the team and created unhealthy work pressures which endanger the ability of staff to attend work regularly and safely. The way to stop these allegations is to attend Council meetings, work responsibility and respect the Municipal Code of Conduct. Each Councillor agreed to follow these rules. They provide a security blanket under which all staff can work. Staying away from Council, challenging the ability of management to proceed satisfactorily, refusing to acknowledge past missteps are unhelpful, non-productive actions by the Councillors. They promote disjunction. They are destructive not productive.

Similarly, staying away from Council meetings harms the ability of Council to serve the community. The law requires 60-days to pass before a remedy like a by-election can be considered. How can a two-month delay in the business of the Council help residents? How does closing Council help negotiate a new collective agreement? How does closing Council secure approval for new building projects or get funding for other endeavors? Delay is counterproductive and it also ruins the reputation of the community as a good place to do business. Delay sends a bad message, and I am sure any reasonable person can see the solution involves returning to Council. Come back and do your job, Councillor Dyment, Councillor Campsall, Councillor Gadoury. Prove your loyalty to the Township.

I and Councillors Schmidt and Rondeau will be delighted to welcome you. In fact, because of the outstanding occupational health and safety charges, all Council meetings for the near future will be held virtually. This means no Councillor has an excuse to be absent. Everyone can stay home safe and still come to the meeting.  There is much to be done. Let’s get on with it. The next scheduled virtual meeting is March 26, 2024, at 6:30 pm. The sign on instructions have already been sent to you by the Clerk.



Mayor Doug Bender


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367 Fourth Ave.
P.O. Box 601
Matheson, ON P0K 1N0

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