CUREA weighs in on mayoral vacancy

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
CUREA weighs in on mayoral vacancy
Glen Grant. Seaway News file photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Coalition for Unity, Respect & Equity/Equality for All (CUREA) has offered their views on one possible candidate to fill the vacant office of Mayor of the City of Cornwall.

On Tuesday, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement resigned after being named to the Senate of Canada. Under the Municipal Act, Council has 60 days to fill the vacancy either through appointment, or through a by-election.

If Council decides to appoint someone to fill the vacancy from within their own ranks one possible candidate would be Councillor Glen Grant, a long time City Councillor and current Chair of the Police Services Board.

In a letter to Council and local media CUREA made clear their opposition to the appointment of Grant to the Mayor’s office.

Below is the CUREA letter, followed by comments from Councillor Grant after he was interviewed about the letter by Seaway News.

Dear Council,

I am writing to you in my capacity as Secretary/Treasurer of CUREA/CURET, as a lawyer in the City of Cornwall, and as an almost lifelong resident of Cornwall. Though my name is on this email, it has been approved by the executive of CUREA/CURET.

The departure of Mayor Clement (now Senator Clement) has left a considerable gap in our community, and on city council. We understand that Councillor Glen Grant is being considered to be appointed as Mayor until the term ends in 2022, as early as this evening.

We are at a critical time in our city. The appointment of a new mayor for the remainder of the term will send a message to our community, our partners, and to the people watching our community. We/I urge you to be mindful of this when selecting a new mayor. We need a person who can build upon the existing work done under Senator Clement’s leadership. Under the Municipal Act, 2001, the municipality does not have to address the vacancy immediately. There is a 60 day period during which council can appoint a person to fill the vacancy, or opt for a by-election.

For a variety of reasons, Councillor Grant may not be the most appropriate appointment. The reasons for this comment include:

      • His failure to support a rainbow crosswalk, which was an attempt at placemaking in the city in support of the LGBTQ+ community;
      • His comments about “ruffling feathers” when discussing the partnership with Akwesasne at the March 8th council meeting. The comment was followed with “no pun intended” by Councillor Grant. The initial comment on its own may not have been problematic, but the “no pun intended” suggests Councillor Grant was thinking of stereotypes about Indigenous people which does not further the city’s relationship with Akwesasne;
      • His comments about “if this information is accurate” in a response to Mayor Clement’s email regarding lowering city flags in honour of the Kamloops 215. It is unclear why Councillor Grant felt the need to qualify the information presented at a time when the discovery was reported by many major news outlets and had already been acted on by other municipalities.
      • His support of the Akwesasne border closure in spring of 2020. Such a closure would be incredibly harmful to residents of Akwesasne. Our communities are linked economically and socially and residents of Akwesasne rely on services and stores in our region daily.

Given the above, we would ask Council to think carefully about whether it will be appointing someone to fill the vacancy left by Senator Clement, and, if so, to consider the comments in this message during the selection process. Alternatively, Council does have the option to allow the electorate to speak and hold a by-election. Cornwall and members of its council are not the same in 2021 as they were during the last election of 2018, and the electorate may need to have a say in who is going to lead our city until 2022.

Yours Truly,

Michele Allinotte
Secretary-Treasurer of CUREA/CURET

When Grant was asked by Seaway News if he had seen the letter, which was sent Monday afternoon, he said that he had and that he had responded to CUREA.

“I’ve reached out and basically said that she doesn’t know me very well,” he said. “Before you criticize someone you should do your research on what they’ve done in this city. If they had done that they probably wouldn’t have written the letter.”

On the issue of the painted rainbow crosswalk that Grant opposed, he specifically commented that he opposed it in the grounds that the City’s lawyers claimed it would leave the municipality open to liability and not because he opposed what it represented.

Seaway News asked Grant if he was being considered for the Mayor’s office. The vacancy is to be addressed at the Council meeting on Monday night, June 28.

“Its news to me,” he said, adding. “I don’t even know if anything will be done about it tonight.”

Grant did say that if he were offered the position, he would accept it, explaining that he had considered running in 2018, but chose not to after discussions with Clement.

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