Email filtration lands mayor in hot water

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

September 2, 2009

Local councillors took exception to a selective approach used by Mayor Marie Trainer to distribute email last week.

At a meeting on Monday, Trainer said she was contacted by a Six Nations representative who asked her for a meeting between Haldimand Council and Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Brad DuGuid. She said that she forwarded the message to council members, however Craig Grice and Buck Sloat said that they never received it.

Trainer responded by saying that these councillors had asked her not to send them messages, however Sloat said he only asked her not to send messages from well-known activist Gary McHale.

"I certainly want to be forwarded county business," Sloat stated.

The ward two councillor contends that the mayor was forwarding emails at the request of McHale and feels that if McHale wants to share information with councillors, he should email them personally.

"If you want to be mail clerk for Mr. McHale, I guess I have to get his to get the rest," he said.

This is not the first time Haldimand Council has dealt with the issue of email correspondence in the mayor's office.

In 2007, council passed a motion "so that all correspondence sent and received through the Mayor's office including all email addressed to the Mayor by title or name, be copied to all councillors as well as the County Clerk."

The decision was controversial because many  people felt that it invaded privacy.

However, Trainer at that time had acknowledged "That management of this correspondence, especially emails has been overwhelming to the point where many e-mails may go unanswered or otherwise not responded to."

Coun. Don Ricker said he didn't want to squabble, but said that the mayor shouldn't start deciphering who gets what.

"We're talking council business," said Grice.

"I better be informed... That's part of my job."

The email dispute is another issue on what appears to be a growing list of concerns for local councillors dealing with mayoral process.

Last week, Sloat criticized the mayor for not briefing councillors about a confidential meeting with the minister of aboriginal affairs before talking to the press. He also took exception with the approach taken by the mayor's office to set up meetings with ministers prior to an Association of Municipalities Conference last month.

Trainer told The Regional News that Slaot "went off on a tangent" and "was trying to make me look bad," adding that some of his comments were "political, not accurate."

Sloat said that he isn't about to get into a war of words through the media and said he reacts to each issue as it comes up.

Last week, Trainer announced that she had resigned from the Haldimand County Hydro Board, citing personal reasons that would remain confidential between her and board members, including Sloat, the only other council appointee.

Trainer said that council has been made well aware of the reasons and feels she could have "more input" on other committees.

She told The Regional News that she does intend to run again for office in 2010 and wants to see matters such as arena redevelopment, road upgrades and issues involving Six Nations more forward under her watch.

Trainer, 63, is a 21-year veteran on municipal council, 15 of them as mayor.

"I love it, but after the next term, I think then I'll have had it," she said. "That will be my final term as mayor. I'm not going until 990 like Hazel (McCallion). I have no intention of that. I respect her and it's like me, it becomes your whole means of living. I live for Haldimand County."

Sloat said he hasn't considered running for mayor and is concentrating on doing what's best for ward two.