Council to hold closed meeting on filling vacancy

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Council decided to move up the discussion on appointing an applicant to fill the vacant Ward 3 (Sandfield) council position to February 14.

“We will be moving in camera as we discuss the candidates,” said Mayor Richard Stephens.

“We are doing it from the applications only?” asked Councillor Derek Stephens. “No interview? I don’t know why we don’t have an interview process. I am not comfortable with just looking at a piece of paper.”

Councillor Linda Farquhar noted that two of the candidates who have applied for the position are familiar to council, while the third has provided a detailed outline of their qualifications. “We couldn’t really ask them about council related issues,” she said. 

“We ask them questions at all candidates’ nights,” countered Councillor Stephens.

“That is different,” rejoined Councillor Farquhar.

“I am not convinced it qualifies as an in camera discussion,” supplied Councillor Steve Shaffer. “I would like that question clarified. We are not talking about staffing here, but council.”

“Staff have already opined that if it is an identifiable individual we cannot discuss in open council,” said the mayor.

Acting Clerk Treasurer Denise Deforge read the relevant part of the Municipal Act which indicated that council “may” go into a closed meeting if the information to be discussed involved an identifiable individual.

“If staff has ruled that it can go in camera then I am comfortable,” said Councillor Shaffer.

“I kind of like the idea of interviewing the candidates,” said Councillor Angela Johnston. “Especially in a small community, we may have preconceived notions of the individuals from another setting, but I am not sure what we would ask. I am okay either way.”

“We have done it in the past where we have a room full of people,” noted Mayor Stephens. “I agree with Linda.”

“Maybe they will have questions for us,” said Councillor Stephens.

“Councillors wouldn’t normally be able to ask questions in an election,” suggested Council Farquhar.

“Sure we would,” said Councillor Stephens. “We could just go to the all candidates’ debate and ask your question just like anyone else. I am just not comfortable with this, although we have the rule of law to go in camera, we don’t have to.”

“We will be taking the information provided to us,” said Mayor Stephens. “We go in camera so that we can discuss openly any concerns.” Mayor Stephens noted that he had called a number of people to encourage them to apply. “Some of the people I did call applied,” he added.