Mayor says he can’t control what councillors say

By: Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent
Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff says he can’t interrupt councillor talking points based on subject matter, even when the discussion ventures into the factually incorrect.
This on the heels of last week’s council meeting when Councillor Amy Finn used her time to list a slew of factually incorrect claims while speaking in opposition of a vaccine policy for council and staff. This included a belief that any vaccine mandate violates the Nuremburg Code.
“Previously I confirmed with the Integrity Commissioner that I can’t stop councillors from saying things. They have the full ability to say what they want to say and I can’t step in and change that,” says Canniff.
Canniff, who eventually told Finn to “wrap it up” says he “did step in because the limit of her five minutes (was up).” However it took about 12 minutes, over double this allotted time, for the mayor to intervene during the Oct. 4 meeting.
“I’m always concerned about the truth. We want the truth going out, we want factual things going out,” says Canniff regarding councillors lending credibility to debunked theories and arguments. He says there’s immediate checks on false statements from staff such as Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby and General Manager of Health and Family Services April Reitdyk who provide a valuable service by “stepping in afterwards if there are misstatements to correct those.”
Councillor Finn’s statements were rebuked by a number of staff, including Colby, following her drawn out speaking session.
Canniff says there’s another important long-term check councillors must consider when making untrue claims. “Each councillor is going to have to stand on their own with what they’re saying and the public is going to have to assess that accordingly.”
But as for himself, “I don’t have the ability to step in and say ‘you can’t speak’.”
That is, until five minutes have been reached.