Cornwall councillors not comfortable with limiting new business

Cornwall Coun. Claude McIntosh, seen here in a September 2019 file photo, has proposed a limit on the number of new business items a councillor can bring to a meeting. Many of his colleagues are not comfortable with the idea, which will be debated during a review of council's entire procedural bylaw this summer. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A city councillor’s proposal to limit the number of new business motions introduced at a meeting is not sitting well with many of his counterparts.

Coun. Claude McIntosh proposed the change to limit the number of notices of motions and new business motions to two per meeting, per councillor.

Many on council, speaking Monday night, felt the rule change would limit councillor’s work and would be restricting.

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth said new business motions are “the nature of the business…it’s not always clean” but this is “how democracy works.” He likened the proposal to a “muzzle” on elected officials.

The move by McIntosh comes after Coun. Eric Bergeron tabled a pack of new business motions at a recent council meeting, four of which were passed.

“I’m trying not to take this personally. I hear some comments here but at the end of the day, if there’s a seconder and a (new business) motion I will gladly debate it. If I don’t think I have enough information, I will defer. I’m opposed to this. We are also in a state of emergency. I think council needs to be creative, needs to move fast, needs to be flexible and this does the opposite. I’m very much against this motion,” Bergeron said.

Coun. Glen Grant supported the limitation “for efficiency purposes” and if a new business item was important, councillor could get it in to the clerk on time instead of introducing it at the last minute.

Mayor Bernadette Clement said she was “not comfortable” and felt the rule would be “limiting councillor’s work.”

In the end, since the city will be doing a full review of its procedural bylaw and this change would require a change to the procedural bylaw, council defered the matter until the bylaw review at a special council meeting – possibly sometime in July or August.