Sun. Oct 17th, 2021

The incident took place on Wednesday during a debate on what method the council should use to investigate the troubled LRT program.

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A low point in the council term has led to Mayor Jim Watson apologizing for cutting the microphone in Coun. Diane Deans during Wednesday’s meeting.

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Watson said he wrote to Dean’s Thursday morning “to apologize for having her microphone muted” amid a debate over what method advice should use to investigate the troubled LRT program.

“That was the wrong call on my part and I take full responsibility,” Watson said in a tweet.

The drama was centered on some procedural brawl during the Zoom-based council meeting.

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The council was scheduled to consider Coun. Catherine McKenney’s proposal requiring a judicial inquiry. Coun. Glen Gower introduced what Watson decided as a “replacement” proposal that suggested asking the city’s auditor general to investigate the LRT.

That meant Gower’s movement wiped out McKenney’s movement.

Some councilors, such as Deans, McKenney and Shawn Menard, wanted to hear from the clerk about the mayor’s claim that Gower’s proposal was a substitute.

When Deans argued that she had the right to ask for the clerk’s opinion, Watson said, “I have ruled and thank you very much.”

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The deans spoke: “The question was put to the town clerk before the mayor intervened. I have every right as a member of this council to ask the town clerk to comment on this issue. Is it a reasonable substitution or … ”

And that was when Dean’s microphone was cut out.

An 11-11 vote on the mayor’s decision meant that his decision was upheld in accordance with the rules of procedure, but not before the temper flared up.

Menard: “What a joke.”

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan: “Did you cut Diane Deans off?”

McKenney: “Yeah, really, cut off women. I love it. It is well.”

During a news conference after the council meeting, Watson said his job was to “maintain order.”

“When you have four people talking, it does not make sense and it is not productive,” Watson said, adding the vice function interrupted microphones “so we could get the order brought back and I support it.”

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The mayor can ask for a member’s microphone to be cut if he thinks there is no order.

Around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Watson announced that he was sending his apology to Deans.

Deans responded just before noon. 14 and tweeted: “Thank you @JimWatsonOttawa for the apology, but you must take steps to correct the damage you have done. This would mean that @cmckenney’s proposal could be debated and voted on at the next Council meeting. We need to restore public confidence. ”

As for how the council decided to tackle the LRT controversy, Gower won the proposal to ask the Auditor General to investigate by 14-9 votes. McKenney’s proposal to call for a judicial inquiry was never put to the vote.

An AG investigation would not be as expensive as a forensic investigation and would probably be completed much sooner; on the other hand, the AG survey would involve behind-the-scenes interviews and would be left to AG to provide updates to the council rather than having hearings in public. Another important difference is that AG cannot examine councilors, and the final report receives management review for accuracy and response before it is published.

Meanwhile, OC Transpo customers were still without LRT service on Thursday. Confederation Line has been out of service since a Sept. 19 derailment near Tremblay Station without saying anything about when it will reopen.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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