Skip to content

Mayoralty candidates all agree. Invite Valin no strings attached

The trio will support a motion brought before Council inviting Valin to speak without placing restrictions on what subjects he is allowed to discuss
20200909 north bay city hall and council chambers turl
North Bay City Hall and Council Chambers

It appears Council will likely get to hear Integrity Commissioner George Valin's advice on how to improve their code of conduct rules after all....and with no restrictions on speaking freely.

Valin will still have to agree of course, 

Peter Chirico, Johanne Brousseau and Leslie McVeety have all told BayToday they will support it, if a motion is brought before Council inviting Valin to speak, without placing restrictions on what he is allowed to say. Brousseau, as councillor, had previously voted against having Valin appear.

Chirico says he would do so as mayor at his first council meeting. More than one candidate for council has said they would be happy to put forward that motion.

The three mayoral candidates repeated that pledge Thursday night during a debate on Cogeco cable TV.

It was almost two years ago that Councillor Mark King moved a motion that Valin be invited to a city council meeting to discuss recommendations set out in his report.

Council agreed to hear Valin, but at the time Councillor Mac Bain insisted the discussion be narrowly focused and not be open to discussing the full report.

See: Council to discuss Integrity Commissioner's recommendations, but won't touch main report

But the invitation was stalled for a year, after an unsolicited report from City Solicitor Peter Leckie flew in the face of Council's request. Leckie's report stated Council did not need to hear Valin at all,

See: City solicitor to Integrity Commissioner: your advice on our Code of Conduct rules 'not required'

In a tight 5-5 vote council rejected a motion by Councillor Bill Vrebosch, who did not want Valin to appear, urging fellow councillors to "put this issue to bed."

See: Five fight, and win, against bid to silence Integrity Commissioner

The tie meant the vote was lost and Council reaffirmed its invitation to Valin.

But although the invite was extended, restrictions remained on what Valin could say. The two sides couldn't agree, so Valin declined.

Meanwhile, the City has released the initial email inviting Valin, following a Freedom of Information request by BayToday.

It reads "Further to Council's direction could you please advise as to when you might be able to attend before Council in relation to your report dated December 2020. The Council Meetings scheduled for January are the 11th and 25th and in February 8th and 22nd. Could you please also provide your hourly rate for your attendance,"

It is signed by City Clerk Karen McIsaac.

But that sparse email raises more questions than answers. Valin has said that he was agreeable to returning to speak to council, however, "a specific agreement could not be reached regarding the parameters of what I would be allowed to address."

That would indicate that restrictions were placed on what Valin could say. North Bay Communications Officer Gord Young was asked repeatedly by BayToday if restrictions were placed on Valin, but did not answer.

See: Council/City staff stall Valin conflict presentation to avoid embarrassment

Concerned citizen Kevin Ferris, who continues to hold Council's feet to the fire on this issue said, "The email is so skimpy what can I say other than Valin's comments seem to indicate there were discussions that went on beyond the simple invitation that was shared  Things are not as cut and dried as an invitation and a refusal to attend."

Other questions remain about Council and staff conduct. Why was a report by City Solicitor Peter Leckie that no one asked for, sent to Council saying Valin should be uninvited after Council had already directed city staff to invite Valin?

Since that issue was debated and voted on during an open council meeting, why have discussions about restrictions on Valin's appearance been shrouded in secrecy?

BayToday reached out to CAO David Euler to ask what restrictions were placed on Valin but got no response.

If candidate Peter Chirico is as good as his word, we may find some of those answers during Council's first meeting of the new term.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
Read more

Reader Feedback