At his final Council meeting, Mayor Gil Brocanier gave a farewell speech which included advice to the incoming Council – and he pulled no punches. The opportunity was his Economic Development Coordinator report which is scheduled at the end of every regular Council meeting. As his last report, he said that he and John Henderson, together with Manufacturing Attraction Specialist T.J. Flynn, are being sent on an all expenses paid trip to China by William Academy from October 10 to 18. As well as being at a twinning with a city just outside Beijing and the setting up of a Hockey training centre like the CCC, they will pursue “business opportunities”. Gil then thanked Councillors and Staff for helping achieve the Strategic Plan’s Goals and Objectives and said he was leaving on a high and has absolutely no regrets. But he then proceeded to pass on some feedback (advice) to the new Council.
Gil said that in walking around Town, he is often approached by people who say they love Cobourg and all it has to offer. Gil said that it’s important to understand that these people are the silent majority who are not interested in seeing their name in a newspaper or a blog site but they are telling us that Cobourg is a good place and they are happy to be here.
We are fortunate to have very responsible media coverage on council (he indicated Cecilia Nasmith and myself at the media table) and I want to thank you for that. But that leads me to the vocal minority and for most of them, my advice is to ignore them as there are chronic malcontents who will never find anything positive to say. A good example comes from a small group that blog [I think he means comments] on John Draper’s excellent News blog and several of them criticize me and staff even though a lot of things they say are not even true…. If you’re so discontented, why don’t you just leave.
So while I’m at it, I want to advise you to ignore the Cobourg Taxpayers Association until they come up with something of substance. I can’t find anyone who thinks the CTA represents them. (More below on the CTA’s response to his criticism).
Gil wanted to mention that never once has he been questioned on transparency and openness – I’m sure he sees them as being his strong points. He then went on to list what he believes citizens do care about.
- Employment opportunities – good-paying jobs to keep the youth in Town.
- The Waterfront although they are polarized on this
- A Safe Community
- Lower taxes. Gil said that most complaints come from people who have moved from the GTA where taxes are artificially low. He explained that if everything is factored in, the difference is less. E.g. Electricity is 50% more in the GTA and water is extremely more expensive. At a conference of Ontario Mayors, they all complained of the same thing and said “please do something about Toronto’s taxes”. Gil believes in being fiscally responsible and keeping tax increases to a fair minimum.
On Thursday, the CTA issued a response in an open letter to the mayor.
It was signed by: Lydia Smith – President, Dennis Nabieszko – Secretary, Bryan Lambert – Treasurer, Ken Strauss – Director and Ted Williams – Director and started by accusing Gil of “serial bullying and abuse of the power inherent in your position” but that the “misplaced criticism of the Cobourg Taxpayers Association was actually a back-handed compliment”.
Since Gill criticized them, it showed they were in fact effective since “had we not been effective you would have simply ignored us.”
Their letter concluded with:
Your criticism of the concerned Cobourg residents with whom you disagree, in the forum of an official Council meeting, constitutes a cowardly breach of the Code of Conduct for Council Members. Suggesting that those with a different vision for Cobourg “should just leave” is completely unacceptable. You over-stepped the bounds of civility and respect knowing that, because this was the last official session of Council, a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner would not be possible. Nevertheless, we reserve our rights to redress this issue.
Your behaviour has caused us to redouble our resolve to be a valuable resource for the people of Cobourg. And we sincerely thank you for that.
You can’t accuse either Gil or the CTA of beating around the bush. But we live in a polite democracy. As several councillors said in their farewell speeches: “Despite some disagreements, everyone has been respectful.” Of course they were referring to interaction amongst councillors, not with outside groups.
- Download CTA Open letter
- Go to Town’s Video of Council meeting (poor sound and will go offline in three months).