Official City of Brantford Mayoral Website

Responsibility & Growth

As we move through life, we collect the baggage of mistakes, regrets and other human foibles; some small and some large, but each having a bearing on who we are as people.  It is not so much the mistake itself, but rather, what we do about the mistake that makes the difference.

I learned early in my political career to recognize my mistakes, take responsibility, apologize when appropriate, and to mark and learn so that I could benefit personally and share that benefit as a public servant.

The recent discussions regarding by-law 127-2010 is just such an situation.  I openly admit that I did not sign the by-law, and that I allowed the by-law to go unsigned for far too long.  I did this with the best of intentions, but it was not my decision to make.

When the by-law was passed we were new in Council and we had inherited a large number of law-suits, over-budget projects and the residue of protest and confrontation.  Many new members of Council campaigned on putting an end to confrontation, and seeking the means to build partnerships and establish constructive processes for development.

As a community we had to rebuild our reputation in the broader development community.  The protest at Kingspan, the resulting multi-million dollar lawsuit, and even the beginning of the injunction had created the perception that we were a difficult place to do business.

I, for one, wanted to end this misperception.  When the Vincorp agreement was reached, the story appeared on the front page, and there was an immediate backlash and threats of protest from many of the same people who had been involved in Kingspan, I acted to head off the confrontation.

This happened by contacting the agent and principle of the company and inviting them in for a discussion.  I highlighted that in our land sale agreements we have a clause that says the City (paraphrasing) is not responsible for any protest that might happen on your development site.  I also highlighted that the development immediately adjacent had had a protest in its early development stages, and a housing project just to the south had also had many problems.  It was also explained that it had been made clear to me that this area was considered a land claim that would generate immediate attention.

In the hopes of not having the land sale protested, and the potential development thwarted, I asked the principle if he would be agreeable to meeting with representative of the Six Nations elected Council to determine if a partnership could be developed that would see a more positive course of action.

Around this time, and in the months that followed this agreement, we had embarked on a tri-council meeting to establish understanding; our Councillors had gone to the Six Nations Council inauguration and they attended ours; we attempted the Consult and Accommodate agreement; we proposed a public consultation on Six Nations; I went with members of Council and spoke in the longhouse to the Confederacy Chiefs, and I continued to dialogue with many groups in the development community in Brantford and Six Nations.  

The principles of the company agreed to meet with Six Nations Council representatives, and they started a discussion that carried on over the next months, and ended in the recent highlighting of this issue.

When this all came to light, I immediately sent an apology to my colleagues on Council.  Although, as I stated, I had the best of intentions I made a decision that was not mine to make.  I did not want to cause the Councillors or this Council any embarrassment, and I apologized for dragging them into this mess.

I am a very hands-on Mayor and I take the role very seriously.  At times I am not the best "politician" and this has gotten me into trouble in years past, because I often wear my heart on my sleeve. 

In this situation, I made a bad decision for the right reasons, but I could have clearly gone in another direction, with Council seeking a similar solution.

I have accepted full responsibility for my decision and my actions, I have made full disclosure to Council and staff, and I have committed to seek more reasonable solutions to these issues as they arise.

I guess one of my greatest regrets in this process, is that Council has become immersed in procedural squabbles and in-fighting instead of working together to build our community.  We have no business acting as if Council's duties exist only on Monday night, and we should be working positively to build partnerships, attract new businesses, and make better the lives of each citizen of our community.

Beyond all of the political wrangling that is now happening in Council, it must be noted that we still need to find a positive working process to create immediate and long-term solutions to the development and land claim issues with Six Nations. 

My desire had been to stave off protest so that we did not further damage our reputation in the development field.  We need jobs and many jobs come from the introduction of new businesses to our community, and new businesses seek the sale and development of land.  We have already lost businesses because of protest, or the threat of protest, and we MUST find a solution that allows us to grow, prosper, and offer every opportunity to the working people in our community.