I admire Craig Gammie’s tenacity and stamina! He is the Ever Ready Bunny of Politicians, he keeps going and going and going!
Thank you for your response Craig!
1. Some people seek political office today to pursue self-serving agendas that fail to reflect the will of the public. If you are elected, how will you avoid this pitfall and advocate for the well being of all your constituents?
My focus is and always has been and always will be the public interest and the residents in their role as members of the corporate body that is the municipality.
My record is clear. I have fought against those pursuing their private agendas at the council table. I have fought to get people to stop contravening the conflict of interest rules. I have no business that might present a conflict. I have no private agenda to bring to council.
I will constantly be on guard to avoid getting into a conflict situation. I will obey the conflict of interest rules. I will welcome video recording of council and committee meetings. I will welcome public scrutiny of everything I do. I will welcome comments if anyone feels that I have come anywhere near the line.
As an aside, I prefer your “advocate for the well being of all your constituents” over your “reflect the will of the public”. The Municipal Act does not talk about or imply anything about “reflecting the will of the public”. The municipal act talks instead about pursuing the municipal public interest. The municipal act says that a role of council is to “represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality”. I prefer the municipal act role over “reflect the will of the public”. Reflecting “the will of the public” could get us into some very uncomfortable situations, especially if you define the will of the public as the will of 51% or more.
2. Many believe that Council improperly discusses issues in camera that should be aired in a public forum. If an issue arises in an in-camera meeting that you think should be discussed in open forum, what would you do?
There are far too many closed sessions.
There is a rule that new issues cannot be raised in closed. The rule is that no issue can be discussed in closed unless the general description of the item appeared in advance on the public agenda or notice. So the situation you describe, where an item arises in closed, should not occur. If it did I would insist on a point of order that the matter not be discussed unless and until the item description is properly placed on a publicly available notice/ agenda.
The municipal act prescribes what must be in open session, what must be in closed session, and what types of matters are discretionary, that is they can legally be in closed or open.
I feel that council takes far too many items into closed that are not legitimate closed items. If an item were placed (in advance) on the closed agenda and I felt it was there improperly, I would recommend on a point of order that it be transferred to open session.
According to the municipal act, the only type of matter that must be in closed session is if the subject matter relates to the consideration of a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act when the council is the “head” for the purposes of that Act. Since our council is not the “head” (Angie Cathrae is the “head”), it means that for our council there are no matters that must by law be in closed.
Items which are “solicitor-client privilege”, “litigation”, and even “personal matters” are discretionary. Current council never uses that discretion. They just automatically go into closed.
For items that are discretionary, that is an item that could legally be in closed or open, I would insist on considering which forum, closed or open, would be more in the public interest.
If the public interest is considered in these discretionary situations, I believe we will have few, if any, closed sessions.
The rule is that voting in closed is prohibited, except for procedural matters (like voting to go from closed to open). Yet council often votes in closed session, rationalizing it by characterizing the vote as “direction was given to staff”. I would insist that the deception, and the closed voting, be stopped. There should be no voting in closed (except procedural).
3. Do you have any objections to being video and/or audio recorded during Council meetings?
I have no objections at all. I would welcome and support streaming, if it can be done at reasonable cost. But certainly at least we should have audio and video recording. And the recordings should be made available on the town website, not just for two weeks as is currently the case, but rather for a long time. The public is entitled to know what positions every council member is taking. The public is entitled to know how well (or how poorly) each council member is representing them. Some say that a drawback to video recording is that it might cause council members to say less than they would otherwise. Too bad. Those who don’t want the residents to know their positions should not be in public office.
4. It often appears that administrative staff lead Council, rather than the other way around. Do you agree that staff and planners should function at Council’s behest since it is Council that is elected to represent the views and concerns of the community?
Yes staff and planners should function at Council’s behest. The municipal act is clear on that. Staff provide decision making information, often including recommendations, and staff implement the decisions. But it is council that makes the decisions. It may appear that staff is trying to lead, for example by omitting key decision making information from reports, but I don’t believe that they are doing that deliberately in order to “lead” or for any other reason. Besides, with an attentive and strong council, any attempts by staff or planners to lead will be unsuccessful.
Staff report writing skills could always use a bit of honing, and council needs to remain attentive, but I don’t think we have a serious staff “leading” problem to resolve.
Individual council members directing staff? – Now that’s a problem.
5. Do you, or any family member, have a pecuniary and/or working interest in any industrial energy project within the Municipality, outside the Municipality, outside the Province, or outside Canada? If so, please elaborate. If not, would you every consider becoming a stakeholder in a large-scale energy project if the opportunity presented itself?
I assume you meant industrial wind energy project. But regardless, my answer to the first question is “no”. And if I ever did get into a conflict of interest position, which is extremely unlikely, I would declare and sit out any related discussion and vote. I would not consider becoming a stakeholder in a large-scale wind energy project.
In spite of clear evidence that there are significant adverse health effects, and adverse environmental effects, the Ontario government and the wind energy developers have launched a propaganda campaign denying such adverse effects. I have publicly likened their propaganda to the claims that came out of the tobacco industry in the 1950’s and on.
I marched to the CAW turbine site in Port Elgin site in support of affected residents and in protest of the CAW turbine. I am opposed to the government and wind industry campaign of denial, and I remain steadfastly opposed to industrial wind turbines in theTown of South Bruce Peninsula, and elsewhere too.