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Wilmot council holds second closed meeting on recent controversies
KITCHENER -- Wilmot council held a second closed door meeting on Tuesday to discuss some recent controversies in the township.
Council said the meetings were meant to discuss Mayor Les Armstrong’s apology for sharing a "White Lives Matter" post, and the red paint doused on the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in Baden.
In a media release on Tuesday evening, council said the meeting gave them the opportunity for a "frank and heartfelt" conversation about the apology.
Last week, numerous delegations at a special council meeting called for Armstrong to resign after he reposted a video titled "White Lives Matter" on his Facebook page, with the comment, “Another view. Interesting.”
Armstrong said he posted the video to start a discussion, but issued an apology at a regional council meeting last week. He repeated the apology at Friday’s special council meeting in Wilmot.
Councillors discussed their personal experiences since the Facebook post, along with community feedback.
"Any follow-up actions will be decided and carried out by Mayor Armstrong himself," the statement said in part.
Councillors also discussed the controversy surrounding the Sir John A. Macdonald statue. It's been doused with red paint three times in the past week and some are calling for it to come down permanently.
Councillors plan to reach out to stakeholders to discuss the statue and reconciliation. In the statement, township officials said Indigenous communities will be invited to speak with councillors and other staff. They will also speak with other communities affected by Macdonald's policies.
"As I'm sure everyone can appreciate, with the level of emotion and turmoil that's been happening, not an easy conversation to have," Coun. Jenn Pfenning said on Monday. "We wanted to give space for one conversation to happen, everyone to go away, think and come back and have a second conversation."
"Council and staff acknowledge the hurt created in the community and, although all of our experiences are unique, it is by coming together that this community will heal and recover," the statement read. "We are committed to leading in this work."
Former Kitchener resident Alim Nathoo said the mayor's Facebook post broke the Code of Conduct for regional councillors, and he’s filed a formal complaint with Waterloo Region’s integrity commissioner.
"He needs to acknowledge that there is systemic racism and discrimination that exists in Waterloo Region," Nathoo said.
In his apology Armstrong said, “to redeem myself and to show that actions speak louder than words, I will work hard to be part of the movement to create a new platform for change.” However, Nathoo said the lack of specifics in Armstrong's statement are a problem.
"He did not specify what type of training, as well as actions he would take in order to ensure that this doesn't happen again," Nathoo said.
Nathoo said he'd like to see Armstrong lose three months’ pay and take anti-racism and diversity training.
Armstrong said he has no response to the complaint at this time.