Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?

Responses to the question: "Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?"

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4 Candidate Responses (top)

Ward 07
CandidateBrief ResponseFull Response
Beck, Keith Yes There's been an improvement in recent years and council is now more respectful but professional and orderly are still areas to improve upon. When I've attended meetings the conduct by some members causing the most dysfunction is to take advantage of EVERY opportunity to speak to argue for their position instead of waiting for the appropriate time of the meeting (debate) to make such statements. This drags the meeting out for longer than necessary, taxing the patience of other members and guests. Knowing what I need to say at the meeting and the right time to say it, and encouraging other members of the effectiveness of this would be my plan to improve council decorum.
Duvall, Scott Yes At times tempers heat up and members of Council can get carried away trying to get their message across, however I believe that no disrespect is intended. While not always agreeing with everyone's opinion, I have always endeavored to keep my words and tone respectful to all Councillors. Keeping to the five minute response time, having the Chair exercise more control over unruly behaviour, and being sure that all elected officials know the Rules of Order will help alleviate these issues.
Gallagher, John Yes The public perception that city council is dysfunctional is a very real problem and must be corrected. The Mayor or committee chairs seem unable to check bickering, overtalking and generally impolite behaviour by our elected councillors.

Restoring cohesive, functional and productive debate to city council meetings will require council members (veteran and new) to learn and understand the Rules of Order council has adopted for the conduct of meetings. And, most importantly each and every Councillor must respect the Rules of Order and obey them without fail.

I would begin by requiring every person elected to council this term to study and be tested on their knowledge of the Rules of Order. It would be preferable to obtain the services of an experienced professor or other expert in the history of parliamentary Rules of Order to package a study course on the subject, instruct the councillors on the course material and test each Councillor to confirm that they have indeed become schooled in city council's Rules of Order.

Finally, I propose that the Mayor and/or committee chair be seated on a platform slightly higher than the other seats at the council/committee meeting in order to clearly establish the authority held by the person chairing a meeting. And, I would require a speaker, once recognized by the chairwoman or chairman as "having the floor" to stand in their place to address the meeting.

A raised chairman/chairwoman and a speaker standing to address a gathering while others present are seated is an ancient, effective and proven technique to establish the authority of a meeting leader or speaker. A respectful meeting decorum is more likely if meetings are conducted as described herein.

At least it would be a beginning.
Pettit, Trevor Yes I believe that council meetings begin with the intent of all to be respectful and professional. Sometimes in the heat of debate people go too far overboard. All councillors, both old and newly elected, should be thoroughly briefed on the Rules of Order and Code of Conduct that currently exist. I would also like to see a dress code that would show respect for the institution. Blue jeans, turtlenecks, etc. are not acceptable. Perhaps we need to look at time restraints for speaking. Toronto was given special powers and maybe Hamilton should have the same. Perhaps we should have a Speaker, who would have the authority to remove unruly councilors from the meetings based on the Rules of Order. The Council Chamber needs to be respected as the board room of a billion dollar enterprise, not a Hollywood stage set. The taxpayer expects and deserves no less.

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