Conduct Unbecoming

I have a sister just a year younger than me and when we were kids, while we mostly got along, we sometimes, being human beings, fought. When we did it within earshot of our father, he would immediately break into a chorus of the most annoying song ever written. It was called, “Sisters, Sisters,” and his rendition of it went like this:

Sisters, sisters
Never were there such devoted sisters
Caring, sharing
Every little thing that they were wearing

(I’ve since discovered I have Irving Berlin to thank for it.)

The song invariably had the effect of making my sister and I forget our beef with each other and turn our ire on Dad, exactly as he’d intended us to do. He found us being angry at him funny and eventually, we’d come around to his point of view and peaceful relations would be restored.

Why am I talking about this? Because I wish someone had locked Mayor Amanda McDougall-Merrill and District 2 Councilor Earlene MacMullin in a conference room together and sung “Sisters, Sisters” to them until they got over their beef with each other and got on with the work of governing the CBRM.

They are “sisters” in a way—in the feminist way, in the “CBRM has had only seven female councilors and one female mayor in its almost 25 years of existence” way, in the “little girls are watching you” way, in the “you are setting our cause back 100 years” way.

I watched Monday’s council session during which MacMullin’s complaints about the mayor were given a full airing the way I used to watch the British version of The Office: through my fingers. The optics of the only two women on council having their squabbles adjudicated by all the men were so very cringe.

I am not even going to try to wade through the she said/she said of it—both the CBC and the Post have covered the actual details of the dispute and the resolution (council decided the Mayor had breached the CBRM’s code of personal conduct in her communications with MacMullin over last year’s Canada Day kerfuffle but had done nothing wrong in meeting with New Dawn about RHI funding, if I understood correctly, although I may not have, and I don’t care and I need to move on.)

Here are the two things I do want to talk about, both of which turned up in the email “evidence” submitted in this “case.”


‘Bomb-ass speech’

Mayor McDougall-Merrill explained that she is in the habit of consulting with a group of “advisors” outside of council when issues arise that she feels are beyond her scope of knowledge.

I think this is fine provided, as was discussed during Monday’s meeting, she’s careful about the information she chooses to share in her consultations, but I don’t think the mayor can turn to just anyone in these situations. Specifically, I don’t think the mayor can turn to officials with an organization that regularly petitions the CBRM for assistance.

I’m referring here to New Dawn Enterprises which just (successfully) petitioned the municipality for land for a Rapid Housing Initiative project under the “project” funding stream and is competing for funding for another project under the “Cities” stream, administered by the municipality.

To me, that puts the CEO of New Dawn, Erika Shea, off limits as an advisor to the mayor. It isn’t just about actual conflicts of interest it’s about the appearance of conflicts of interest. And this has the appearance of a conflict of interest.

I don’t think Shea should be putting words in the Mayor’s mouth or writing her speeches as, judging by this email from Shea to McDougall-Merrill, she does:

An excerpt from an email

I just re-read it and it makes me deeply uncomfortable (although it did teach me the phrase “bomb ass” which apparently means “to be extremely awesome or god like,” so there’s that.)

Besides, in this particular case, which involved questions around Residential Schools (which is what the Canada Day kerfuffle was, at its heart, about) why wouldn’t you look for advice from members of the two First Nations communities within the boundaries of your own municipality?

But enough, I will move on to my second point, about which I am possibly even more annoyed.


Our Eye in Albert Bridge

I’ve shared my views about Post columnist David Delaney before—if I live to be 100 I will never understand how he earned his perch in the paper’s op-ed pages (or how he kept it after the Post itself reported he’d been dinged for posing as a safety officer in his place of work).

It’s not that I disagree with his opinions (although I generally do), it’s that he treats the English language like it burned his house down and he must have his revenge.

An email he sent the mayor, select councilors and a gaggle of what I take to be his like-minded friends turned up in the documents presented to council on Monday. In it, he directed everyone to listen to the CBC interview with a CBRM staffer that had kicked off concerns the municipality would not be celebrating “Canada Day” that year. Delaney wrote:

text of an email

Delaney, for whatever reasons, has a platform. If he wants to comment on municipal issues, he can—and probably did, I don’t remember him weighing in on the Canada Day question but that’s only because I mostly avoid reading him.

I also have a platform and I use it to comment on municipal issues—I’m doing it right now—but it would never occur to me to write a scolding email (on which I cc’ed a bunch of my own friends) to municipal officials. (And I’d die if one of those friends took the opportunity, as one of Delaney’s did, to forward the Mayor some relevant information on Residential Schools from The Epoch Times.)

What I’m saying is, pick a friggin’ lane, Delaney.

Preferably not mine.