By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Twenty-four hours after a raucous candidates meeting where a fight nearly broke out, those looking for a seat at the city council table were all business Wednesday night.
Still, candidate Roland Besner publicly demanded an apology from incumbent Glen Grant at a Cornwall and District Labour Council debate at the Royal Canadian Legion on Oct. 8 – which was rebuffed by the latter who simply went ahead with describing his platform.
“Good evening everyone, I guess I should have worn my flak jacket tonight, but I left it at home,” said Grant.
The night before the two nearly got into a fight, and some powerful language was spewed between the two over controversial raises that have quickly become a flashpoint in this campaign.
“A candidate brings forth what people are saying and the incumbents tell you what they have accomplished and that’s fine. I know Glen Grant, a member of council, was out of line and owes me and the seniors residents of 540 Adolphus an apology,” said Besner. “And if he doesn’t, then I would ask him to volunteer his name stricken from the ballot.”
The raises were approved by the current council, but don’t come into effect until next year. But back to Wednesday night, where 24 candidates for city council and three for mayor tackled the issue of job growth.
“Labour in Cornwall has always played an important part in the life of our community,” said Kilger. “Well-being of our workers is something we all care about and something we must never take for granted.”
Kilger added: “The City of Cornwall has approximately 650 employees, most of which are unionized and are represented by seven different unions. I consider our employees to be a very valuable asset. Since I was first elected as mayor in 2006, I am pleased with the relationship that has developed between employees and employers.”
Kilger said the city is nearly done its search for a new human resources manager to strengthen and improve the “important labour relation side of things.”
O’Shaughnessy poked holes in that statement citing that in Dec. 2011, the City of Cornwall terminated the employment of its human resources manager without cause, which cost taxpayers $300,000.
He also pointed out that Kilger publicly stated that the city was taking a new direction with their human resources department.
“I had never heard or discussed any new direction prior to that closed-door meeting, but that is what we were told to tell people if we were asked about the termination,” said O’Shaughnessy. “The city is currently looking for their third human resources manager in three years.”
He stated that there are currently over 30 grievances on the books from unionized labour.
“Clearly, the new direction taken by Bob Kilger is not working and must change,” said O’Shaughnessy.
Meanwhile, Kilger said the city needs to assist their economic development department to continue to attract new business and industry to Cornwall by supporting a robust marketing budget.
“Overall Cornwall’s future prospects are brighter than ever,”he said.
Candidate Todd Bennett feels the city should be working to attract food preparation companies that pay higher wages to compliment the distribution centre sector has been established.
“It would make sense for them to move here with one of the biggest customers could be SCM, or Target or Loblaws,’ said Bennett.
Council candidates Geoff Stephenson, Alyssa Blais, Brock Frost, and Davey Bedard were not in attendance.