Council reschedules budget meeting to accommodate one councillorCoun. Chaal Cadieux requested to reschedule a number of meetings this year, citing work conflicts
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 9, 2015
Whether the needs of one outweigh the needs of council was the kind of Star Trek dilemma Enterprise hamlet council faced at its last meeting.
The topic arose during a debate on a request from Coun. Chaal Cadieux Feb. 2 to adjust the dates for a number of regular meetings this year.
Cadieux is away from the community two weeks at a time for work and often attends council meetings by telephone.
His request to adjust the dates of some meetings, which are normally held on the first Monday of each month, met with sometimes heated debate.
Coun. Jim Dives strenuously objected to the idea, saying it would set a precedent for other councillors.
"When I ran for office, I knew that meetings were the first Monday of every month and it was a required meeting, so I attend as many meetings as possible," he said. "If not, then I end up having to resort to either a phone if it's available or I end up missing the meeting. I don't think it should be any different for anybody else."
Deputy Mayor Craig McMaster disagreed.
"I think it's important to accommodate some of the council members who are out of town," he said. "It would be nice to see Chaal here since he's an elected official."
Senior administrative officer Hermann Minderlein noted the council's procedures bylaw states that regular meetings of council shall be held on the first Monday of each month, unless that is a holiday and council can pass a resolution to change the dates.
Coun. John Leskiw III noted changing meeting dates might be confusing for members of the public and mean even fewer residents attending council meetings.
"I personally do feel it would be beneficial for Coun. Cadieux to be at as many meetings as possible physically, but at the same time we do have to take a look at what is best for the community as a whole," said Leskiw.
Dives said it's completely wrong to adjust meeting dates to one councillor's agenda. "Sorry, you're one councillor out of six," he said to Cadieux, who was attending the meeting by telephone.
McMaster countered that Cadieux is an elected official and it's important for him to be at meetings.
"He's not acclaimed," noted the deputy mayor.
That immediately prompted Dives - who was returned to council by acclamation in December - to call a point of order.
"He can't say that," said Dives of McMaster's comment. "There are three people here that were elected by acclamation."
The councillor stated there is no difference between being acclaimed and being elected.
"Whether it's by acclamation or not, I'm elected," he said.
As the debate neared an end, Mayor John Leskiw II pointed out that, according to the Hamlets Act, telephone attendance at a council meeting is the same as in-person attendance.
"Personally, I do not see the difference of being here in person or over the phone as long as you have the information in advance and available to read during the meetings," said the mayor, adding Cadieux has proven himself to be just as attentive and informative when asked questions whether he's at a meeting in person or not.
Cadieux, who had let other councillors debate the issue, noted, "If another council member was in a situation that I was in, I would be more than willing to accommodate him."
A motion to keep the meeting schedule unchanged was defeated four to two, with Dives and Coun. Leskiw voting in favour.
An alternate motion was passed to change the date of just the March meeting so Cadieux can participate in budget discussions as much as possible. Five councillors voted in favour and Dives abstained.
Instead of March 2, the regular monthly meeting will now be March 9.