Dufferin News Municipal Politics

Update from Warden White on ‘Prayers’ at Dufferin Council

Update from Warden White on 'Prayers' at Dufferin Council

At the Township of Melancthon’s Council Meeting held on November 19th, Darren White, Mayor of Melancthon and Warden of Dufferin County, informed the township’s councilmembers of what had occurred at the most recent Dufferin Council meeting.

Warden White spoke to the motion brought by Amaranth’s Mayor Bob Currie at the November 12th county council meeting, with the description of it being that Currie “essentially wanted to add a prayer at the beginning of the meeting”.

“Thank you Lord for creating the heavens, and the earth, and all that is on the earth,” are the words that Currie wants to be delivered at future Dufferin Council meetings. After Dufferin Council ‘started recognizing indigenous people in our area because they were the first settlers here, call it what you want’, referring to the land acknowledgement now performed at the start of meetings, Amaranth’s mayor is of the belief that the municipal body should ‘recognize the creator of the whole universe in the first place’. To note, prayers and land acknowledgements are not currently conducted at the Township of Amaranth’s council meetings.

This is not the first time Bob Currie has inserted his religious views into politics and policy. Earlier this year, the Mayor of Amaranth made national news after providing his reasoning for not wanting the pride flag flown at the township office when the matter came up during an Amaranth council meeting. The remarks were considered hate speech by many and resulted in Currie losing his position as Chair on the County of Dufferin’s Infrastructure and Environmental Services Committee.

“If everybody was either lesbian or homosexual, this would be the last generation on earth, because two homosexuals cannot produce offspring, two lesbians cannot produce offspring, so why would I want to support something when this could be the last generation on earth,” Bob Currie exclaimed at the June 17th, 2020, meeting of Amaranth Council.

In addition to this, Amaranth’s mayor has protested a donation to the local food bankscalled his fellow Amaranth councillors ‘scumbags’ and ‘trash’ while feigning his resignation, as well as having been named in a workplace harassment investigation that cost the township over $28,000. The related summary report stated that there was evidence that Currie had cultivated a ‘poisoned work environment’. Currie has disputed the findings of this investigation. There is currently a vacant seat on Amaranth’s council, after the person elected quit due to a ‘toxic work environment‘. An open call for public nominations has been made for Amaranth residents interested in being appointed to fill the council vacancy.

At the November 19th Melancthon Council Meeting, White explained how he had approached staff and that research was performed on Currie’s motion, discovering that there had been a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on a related case. The case presumably being cited is Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay. The City of Saguenay went through an eight-year legal battle, with the final judgement being made by the Supreme Court in 2015. The result was that the city was not allowed to open its meeting with a prayer, with the complainant being compensated at least $30,000 by the city.

“That motion will not be placed on the next agenda, it was contrary to a Supreme Court decision and a number of other things, and as a result will not be debated at the next county meeting, which I’m sure will cause some fireworks, but that’s that,” Warden Darren White outlined.

After the Supreme Court ruling back in 2015, some municipalities replaced prayers with a moment of silence. Examples include the City of Ottawa and Iqaluit city.

Nunatsiaq News reports that Joanasie Akumalik, Councillor for Iqaluit, said, “Regardless if I have a moment of silence or prayer, my God is still going to love me.”

The next County of Dufferin Regular Meeting of Council takes place on December 10th.

Reference Links – Warden says No Debating Prayers at Dufferin Council

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