Bylaw banning out-of-towners from speaking at Pickering Council on Monday’s agenda

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Published May 27, 2024 at 10:05 am

Lisa Robinson
Councillors Lisa Robinson and Maurice Brenner and Mayor Kevin Ashe (with mic) during happier times. Photo Glenn Hendry

A nearly unprecedented bylaw restricting public delegations at Pickering Council to residents and business owners in the city will be up for debate Monday evening.

The bylaw is a byproduct of the chaotic tenure of Ward 1 Councillor Lisa Robinson and the “frequent and repeated lapses of decorum by delegations” speaking on her behalf, noted Councillor David Pickles, who brought the notice of motion forward late last month. Pickles hopes the bylaw will “protect residents so that they could attend meetings without fear of intimidation” and help Council “move forward with the business of the City.”

There are 17 delegations already listed on Monday’s agenda, with at least ten who live outside Pickering’s borders. Delegations include multiple requests to speak from Robinson’s mother Dianna – who lives in Toronto – and from Joe Ingino, the publisher of an Oshawa publication that printed op-ed comments from Robinson that have been described as “racist, homophobic, transphobic, and threatening.”

Lisa Robinson

Controversial Pickering Councillor Lisa Robinson

Robinson has already been suspended without pay for 30- and 60-day periods to date but there are no provisions in the Municipal Act for the removal of a member.

One of the other reasons for the Pickle’s motion to ban out-of-town delegates was to speed up the Council process so each meeting’s agenda can be completed and the business of government can go on. Several items on a chaotic meeting from earlier this spring that required a police presence had to be delayed to future meetings because of the disruption.

Chaos was the word at that meeting as one person was arrested for trespassing and one of Robinson’s out-of-town supporters, after being ruled out of order by Mayor Kevin Ashe, refused to leave the podium, forcing a recess and bringing the arrival of police.

Councillor Maurice Brenner said he had “mixed feelings” about the bylaw, noting there was some discussion before the vote about not allowing non-residents to speak “undermined the democratic process,” but believed he had little choice but to support it.

“It was to bring some order to Council,” Brenner explained, while declaring it was not something he would normally get behind. “We’ve had some problems and we need to get back to the business of running the municipality.”

Organizations asked to attend Council to discuss local issues will be excepted, as will out-of-town delegates who receive prior consent.

Brenner said he expects some fireworks at tonight’s meeting, which gets underway at 9 p.m.

“I’m not sure how this is going to play out,” he said, adding that Ashe may end up making a ruling to speed up the process. “I know no one wants to be talking about this for six hours.”

Brenner said last month the municipality’s business is being “derailed” because of the actions of Robinson and her supporters. “We want it to end so we can back to the business of the City.”

“Residents are frustrated,” he added. “They’ve had enough.”

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