A nearby municipality to the west had some drama brewing at a recent Council meeting on September 11. On that evening, Deputy Mayor Anne Barr from the Village of Merrickville-Wolford brought forward a Notice of Motion, hoping to get support from Council to officially recognize Pride Month at the local level, in support of its 2SLGBTQI+ residents.
The Notice of Motion, which was read in its entirety before Council, states in part: “WHEREAS the Corporation of the Village of Merrickville-Wolford supports the rights of every citizen to experience equality and freedom from discrimination; and WHEREAS all people regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, genetic characteristics or disability have the right to be treated on the basis of their intrinsic value as human beings… the Corporation of the Village of Merrickville Wolford will, each year, display the Progress Pride Flag for the month of June. The Progress Flag represents: life, healing, light, prosperity, serenity, spirit, marginalized citizens of colour, and transgender and non-binary citizens.”
Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Cameron (left) exchanges words with Councillor
Gural after the vote on a Pride Month support bill defeated the motion.
Such a bill is relatively standard and is becoming more common in municipalities across the country. To defeat such a bill is considered a show of disdain for diversity and inclusion, and is becoming less and less common in a forward-thinking world. Several Times readers therefore sent in words of outrage when the bill was defeated in a 3-2 vote by Merrickville-Wolford Council.
Deputy Mayor Barr explained, following her reading of the bill for Council’s consideration, that in 8 years of sitting on Council, she was never approached about passing such a motion until a few months ago. “We all got an email some months ago with a request for this, and I think it’s time that we recognize and honour the contributions of all of our citizens,” she said.
When Mayor Michael Cameron called for a vote on the motion, Deputy Mayor Barr and Councillor Margaret Gural both voted in favour of passing it. Councillors Stephen Ireland and Ronnie Maitland then voted against the motion. Mayor Cameron – who does not vote except to break a tie – then quickly raised his hand to oppose the motion, defeating it.
Councillor Gural spoke almost instantly upon the declaration that the motion was defeated, stating in a firm tone “I’d like a recorded vote please”. Mayor Cameron responded with a smirk and stated “already been called, sorry”. Councillor Gural then corrected him, saying “I can call a recorded vote”. Mayor Cameron answers again, stating with a tone of annoyance, “the vote was already called”. After Councillor Gural read the procedural by-law confirming that a recorded vote can indeed be called immediately before or after a vote, the Mayor conceded and stated “perfect, we’ll record it then” before adding in “but I mean it’s obvious for any to hear”. Again, Mayor Cameron seemed annoyed in his reply. Normally, meeting minutes for Council meetings only reflect whether a motion is passed or defeated. A recorded vote is done only by request to enter into public record how each Council member casted their vote for a particular motion.
Following the recording of the votes – in which the two female Council members once again voted in favour of the motion, while the three male members voted to defeat it – Deputy Mayor Barr visibly shook her head. Council business then proceeded as normal, despite the drama that had just occurred between Council members.
It is unclear what reasoning the Mayor and councillors Ireland and Maitland had for opposing the motion. The Times has reached out to members of Merrickville-Wolford Council, inviting comments or submissions in a future issue to provide insights on the defeated motion.