Six Brampton Councillors skip meeting in protest saying city democracy ‘under siege’

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Published February 10, 2022 at 10:31 am

Six Brampton Councillors are taking aim at what they call the city’s “authoritarian dictatorship” by skipping a meeting in protest, saying democracy in the city is being “stripped away.”

Councillors Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Charmaine Williams, Pat Fortini, Doug Whillans and Gurpreet Dhillon were all missing from Wednesday’s scheduled regular meeting of council, which forced the meeting to be cancelled.

While City Clerk Peter Fay said the cancellation was “on direction” from Mayor Patrick Brown due to a late special council meeting held on Tuesday, six councillors said in a joint statement that they didn’t show up out of protest.

They allege certain members of council and senior staff “have taken a blowtorch to the rules that are supposed to govern our city.”

“We can no longer stand by and watch the taxpayers of our city be abused, right under their own nose,” the councillors said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The boycott followed Tuesday night’s special meeting where members of council debated procedures and protocols related to a disagreement during the in-camera portion of the Jan. 26 meeting.

The protesting members said council has tried to address “ongoing problems” at two recent council meetings, but say those efforts were squashed “after basic democratic procedures, on behalf of the voters, were blocked.”

“Staff complaints have been swept aside under the current bureaucratic leadership, public accountability functions protected by provincial law have been trampled on and matters that should be debated with the full participation of the public are routinely forced into closed-door meeting, which is against the rules that govern Council procedure,” adding that “Brampton’s democracy is under siege.”

At the special meeting on Tuesday, Medeiros alleged procedures were violated by the chair of council during the Jan. 26 in-camera session, which are confidential and not open to public viewing unless council votes to waive that privilege.

Mayor Brown is typically the chair of council meetings when he is present, but it’s not known if he was chair during the vote or votes in question because the proceedings took place in-camera.

“It was like a scene from an authoritarian dictatorship,” the councillors said, adding they were “shocked” but remain “more committed than ever to restore democracy.”

Council is scheduled for two special meetings on Friday morning. 

A vote to request a review from the Ontario Ombudsman’s office passed unanimously, and the special meeting motion passed with a 6-5 vote according to reports.

The protesting councillors said they are “preparing a number of legislative actions aimed at restoring justice and democracy in the great city of Brampton.”

Requests for comment from the City of Brampton and Mayor Brown were not immediately returned.

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