This week at Council, members approved/ratified the motion put forward by Councillor Thompson to audio record closed session meetings of Council (to begin in 2021). I know I have written about this issue many times but – with ratification of this motion – this truly is an important step in the furtherance of good governance for our community. Moving forward with the recording of closed session (“closed door”) meetings of council will enhance both the transparency of and accountability for members’ decisions. It will ensure that there is an accurate record of what was said – and what was not – when council discusses matters behind closed doors.
This topic has been discussed several times over the past decade; first being raised during the 2006-2010 term of Council and brought forward multiple times since, each time Council in the majority voted down this important accountability measure. So I am very pleased that this Council – unanimously supported moving forward with implementation after many unsuccessful attempts.
While the motion was approved, and Council is moving forward with recording closed sessions, some members still raised the same concerns that have been raised in the past. Concerns such as suggesting that they can’t speak as freely, or that one day their words could come out. As I have said before, and said last night, there shouldn’t be any difference in how members speak in the conversation that any elected official has in a closed session meeting compared to being in open session. If you aren’t comfortable saying it in public, then you shouldn’t say it in closed session. Secondly, the purpose of closed session meetings is to protect the municipality harmless, not to protect members of council; It enables members to discuss property matters, legal actions, employee relations and/or identifiable individuals.
Recordings of closed session meetings will not be made available to the general public; they will only be accessible via judicial process – as is the case with any closed session material.
By ensuring there is an accurate record of the deliberations of Council, questions regarding processes or decisions made during closed session will be answered quickly and definitively. There will be no ambiguity as to what was said and by whom. I am very pleased that this Council has approved moving forward with recording closed session meetings. #GettingThingsDone