Dafoe launches motions on media relations, discussion on removing Mayoral voting, dropping two Councillors

by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Just as this Council’s term is winding down, Councillor Stephen Dafoe has put forth two motions aimed squarely at Morinville’s Next Council, due to take office in roughly eight months.

One of the motions was related to Council and, as Dafoe phrases it, “media relations.” The motion was to bring back information prior to summer break that will be included in the next and future Council’s orientation package on their encounters with the media.
The information to be included is as follows:

A/ Elected officials’ need to respond to media to help fulfill their role in holding elected officials accountable.

B/ The time limits and process for filing a complaint with the Alberta Press Council, Canadian Association of Journalists, Canadian Radio and Television Commission, and other media associations.

C/ The time limits for filing a defamation suit against media.

Councillor Gord Putnam noted his support for the motion, commenting, “This balances the field more, as far as I’m concerned.”

Dafoe’s motion passed unanimously with little discussion or debate.

[SUBHEAD] Dafoe motions for Council to discuss stopping Mayoral Elections, reducing council size

The second motion was to have the next Council discuss three options no later than halfway through their term. The three items were a proposal to limit council from seven members to five, and possibly stopping the practice of residents electing their Mayor, instead having Council select the Mayor from within their ranks. Another was to review all boards and committees of Council.

None of the individual items in this motion are binding in any way. The motion was to bring these items forward for discussion by the next Council halfway through their term. As is their prerogative, the Council of the day could decide to support, oppose, or remove these items from their agenda.

The motion passed 6-1, with only Councillor Brennan FitzGerald opposing. Speaking to motion, Fitzgerald felt that “this Council shouldn’t be dictating the priorities of the next Council.” FitzGerald felt the council of the day, after an election process, will bring forward the issues that are a priority to them and the community.

Councillor Dafoe spoke in favour of the motion saying, “The intent of this motion is to ensure that the Council of the day “best serves the needs of the community by reflecting on its size, scope of commitments, and commitment of its collective leadership.”

Dafoe also noted that he would have been comfortable bringing forward a motion that evening on reducing the size of Council, but said that there were limitations in the Municipal Government Act (MGA) that prevented substantial changes to the voting process so close to the next election.

In support, Councillor Barry Turner said, “Sometimes these important discussions pop up too late, and I think this a great opportunity to have a reflection point to touch base regarding these items [in council’s next term].”

Following the passage of this motion, Morinville’s next Council will have these agenda items on their agenda less than three years from now, though they could decide to bring the discussion forward or strike the matter from the discussion entirely at some point following their election this October.

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  1. Say what? Wow…..& why? This article gives us tidbits of thought with no reasonable explanations for said thought. Reduce council size? As our population continues to grow our council will need to grow to effectively work for us. Place a cap for sure but a simple reduction in size for future councils to deal with sounds high handed & a tad arrogant.
    The point that especially concerns me is removing the ability to elect our Mayor & have council appoint a Mayor. Again I question what is the thought process around this & in the stating of this idea did you realize how arrogant you come off, something I know was not your intent. We have a system in place that gives everyone in Morinville the opportunity to ELECT a Mayor, our leader. To muse over replacing that system & give our right to elect a leader to a few officials just scares me to pieces. Slow night in council Mr Dafoe & you felt the need to shake things up or a startling headline for today’s online edition, is this truly an agenda you wish to persue? I will chalk it up to things you never meant to say out loud or waste time engaging our council in discussion about. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here, otherwise all I can say is…..WOW!

  2. Not a slow night at all. The motion was to put it on the next council’s radar that IF THEY wanted to consider such a move, they need to do so far in advance of the 2021 Municipal Election.

    A move to five council members requires – in addition to the usual public hearing – a period of sixty days in which the public may launch a petition to prevent it.

    While I am an advocate of reducing Council to five members from seven for a number of reasons, including all members of Council represent all residents, and you often wind up with three, four or five doing the bulk of committee and board work, there are other things to consider. Should the municipalities one day amalgamate into a larger municipality, you will not have seven sitting at the larger table.

    My personal experience after almost four years on Council is this Community would be well served by five elected officials.

    The notion of electing a mayor from within has clear pros and cons. My personal thought is Morinville is a community that wants to have a clear say in who they elect as mayor. Electing from within has worked well in Legal. It may not here. It probably would not here.

    The disadvantage – electors take a gamble the seven they elect pick a good leader. The advantage – if they don’t, you’d have a new mayor in a year at the organizational meeting. Also, if a mayor needs to step back due to work commitments or personal challenges, they maintain the Council seat. Other way – they resign and the taxpayer pays for a by election.

    All of that said – the motion is for the next Council to look at those two items and do a review of the Boards and Committees they sit on. Part of the reason Morinville went to seven members is to fill all the board and committee requirements of the day.

    This is something this Council has done a bit of each October. Having it on the books is a memo tot he next – not a directive.

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