Police called to “chaotic” Pickering Council meeting after supporter of “racist, homophobic” councillor refuses to leave podium

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Published March 26, 2024 at 12:21 pm

Lisa Robinson
Pickering councilors Lisa Robinson and Maurice Brenner and Mayor Kevin Ashe (with microphone) in happier times. Photo Glenn Hendry

Where Pickering Councillor Lisa Robinson goes, chaos usually follows and that was certainly the case Monday night in the Council chambers when a recess had to be declared and the police called to deal with supporters of the embattled councillor who refused to leave the podium.

“She continues to bring chaos and fan the flames,” said Councillor Maurice Brenner, who brought in a motion for a public inquiry into Robinson’s conduct – she has been reprimanded and suspended numerous times for comments regarding trans and LGBQ rights – and to ask the Municipal Act be changed to allow her to be removed from office.

More than a dozen delegations spoke at Monday’s meeting. Most talked of the harm Robinson has caused with her recent opinion pieces in the Central, while some spoke in the councillor’s defence. One, after being ruled out of order by Mayor Kevin Ashe, refused to leave the podium, forcing the recess and bringing the arrival of police.

One person was later arrested for trespassing.

Brenner’s motion, seconded by Councillor Mara Nagy, cited the “troubling” rise in hate crimes around the world and Robinson’s publicized comments, which the motion declared to be “widely deemed” as “racist, homophobic, transphobic, and threatening.”

“The continued conduct of the Councillor, with no remorse, and their unwillingness to take corrective measures,” the motion continued, has prompted residents and organizations in Pickering to “deal with the harm that has been caused, including the removal of the councillor from public office.”

Lisa Robinson

The Municipal Act enables the imposition of penalties, including the suspension of a member’s pay for a period up to 90 days (Robinson has been suspended without pay for 30- and 60-day periods so far) but there are no provisions for the removal of a member.

The motion was approved by a 6-1 vote.

Another, similar motion, was postponed to a special meeting on April 2 (“where we will pick up where we left off,” noted Brenner) because of the delays caused by the recess and the police presence.

Other motions, such as a call for public art to commemorate the life of beloved former resident Erie Coombs – aka ‘Mr. Dressup’ – was also postponed.

“The business of our municipality is being derailed because of the actions of Lisa Robinson,” Brenner said. “We want it to end so we can back to the business of the City.”

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

Robinson responded on Twitter and vowed to “never step down.”

“It’s unfortunate that when people can’t handle the truth, they resort to bullying tactics such as continuous name calling and/or silencing your voice until they break you and you give up. Well, as I said tonight at the council meeting “ I will never step down.”

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