Councillor, mayor attendance will be web accessible

The entrance to the Cornwall city council chambers. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The city is moving ahead with a user-friendly way to finding out if your elected official has attended various city meetings.

The proposal from Coun. Justin Towndale was an original idea floated by councillor candidate Davey Bedard, which Towndale moved ahead with after getting Bedard’s approval.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald was first to speak vehemently against the motion, suggesting Towndale’s idea was a “perversion” of transparency and accountability and would create a “chill” within the council.

“We shouldn’t be watching each other…we should be watching out for each other,” Coun. MacDonald said before exclaiming in a loud, booming voice and channeling her inner-Nancy Regan “Just say NO!”

But MacDonald found herself in the minority as many councillors said they didn’t have a problem with their attendance record being posted for all to see.

Coun. David Murphy said attendance is already available on minutes from meetings and this option would make it more user-friendly.

Coun. Bernadette Clement empathized with MacDonald’s concerns but said “it’s a tough job but you’re held to a higher standard,” in supporting the motion.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy disagreed. “We are adults. Anybody (who) wants to know about my attendance, they can call me,” the mayor said.

He felt that people would be quick to judge whether councillors are attending meetings by the record without further exploring the reasons why they missed a meeting.

“To allow one person to be singled out by somebody who doesn’t asks for an explanation, is wrong,” the mayor stated.

Council voted 7-3 Monday night to move ahead with the attendance record, which would apply to all council meetings, budget meetings and special meetings of council.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy, Coun. Elaine MacDonald and Coun. Claude McIntosh voted against it. Coun. Mark MacDonald was absent for the vote.

A report on just how the attendance record will be done on the city website will come to the next council meeting Aug. 10.

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