February 16, 2017 · 0 Comments
By Mike Pickford
Fireworks closed out Monday night’s eagerly anticipated Town Council meeting, with Mayor Jeremy Williams and councillors Scott Wilson and Don Kidd putting on a show for a packed crowd in the council chamber gallery.
Following a productive meeting centred around Dufferin OPP’s costing proposal to take over policing services in Orangeville, Coun. Wilson took aim at the mayor and called for him to apologize to municipal staff, specifically CAO Ed Brennan, for comments he made in a newspaper article published in November of last year.
In the article, which focused on Mayor Williams being hit with a possible third-party lawsuit following his involvement in the controversial demise of Hogeys Sports Bar last year, the mayor was quoted as saying “A good council supports its mayor… (and) a good CAO supports its mayor.”
Coun. Wilson took exception to those comments, claiming it disparages staff and is disrespectful to council, demanding the mayor apologize to Mr. Brennan. Mayor Williams refused to back down, stating he would not apologize when he had done nothing wrong.
“I take offence to your tone, I take offence to what you’re saying and I disagree with what you’re saying,” Mayor Williams said. “This is politics, I have some freedom to say what I wish. I did not say anything offensive and I will reiterate once again, for all those that are here, that I believe a good council supports its mayor and a good mayor supports its council – I can’t be any clearer than that.”
After listening to the dispute for several minutes, Coun Kidd jumped in and encouraged the mayor to “do the right thing” and apologize, so that council can put this issue behind them.
“Would it hurt you to shake Ed’s hand and say ‘if I said something wrong, I’m sorry’, would that really hurt?” Coun. Kidd exasperated. “Be a man. All you have to do is apologize and this is gone.”
Mayor Williams took exception to Coun. Kidd’s comments and asked if he too should now ask for an apology for what he took as an insult.
“Be a man? That is a very offensive thing to say, Coun. Kidd,” Mayor Williams said. “Do I now demand an apology from you? No, because I’ve got a thick skin.”
Following some more back-and-forth bickering, the mayor called for a five-minute recess and immediately withdrew to his office, with Coun. Wilson following closely behind. Clearly incensed at the way the mayor handled the situation, Coun. Wilson aggressively shut the door to the mayor’s office and the pair exchanged words inside.
“I cannot explain why Coun. Wilson did what he did and I’m not sure why he said what he said,” Mayor Williams told the Citizen after the meeting. “I made some comments to a local paper and I stand by those comments. They were not derogatory, they were not insulting and when somebody insists on me apologizing for something that’s not a wrongdoing, of course I’m going to take exception.”