Hamer-Jackson supporters ejected from Kamloops council chambers, mayor temporarily stripped of chair duties in tense meeting

Mayor stripped of chair role

Two supporters of Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson were ejected from city hall Tuesday when a council meeting was interrupted after the mayor was stripped of his chair duties.

Coun. Stephen Karpuk cited a provision of the Community Charter in challenging the mayor’s chair responsibilities after Hamer-Jackson began discussing a report written by Henry Braun, council’s municipal advisor, during his mayor's report.

The mayor brought up details pertaining to the city’s CAO, who is away on personal leave, before receiving two warnings from the city’s deputy corporate officer to stop discussing private information protected by legislation.

The mayor chose to continue speaking to the matter when Karpuk interrupted with the challenge, which, in accordance with the Charter, was immediately followed by a council vote.

Council members voted in favour of stripping Hamer-Jackson of his chair responsibilities and Coun. Kelly Hall, this month's deputy mayor, assumed the duties for the remainder of the meeting.

“It was not something I took lightly,” Karpuk told Castanet Kamloops after the meeting.

Karpuk said council must provide good, civil governance and run timely meetings, and this provision in the Community Charter is a tool to make sure council stays “on course.”

"It's not to be vindictive, it's not to be petty, it's not to punish. It's literally to make sure that we continue to do the business at hand,” Karpuk said.

He said he was concerned Hamer-Jackson was continually bringing up information that was supposed to remain private.

“Our deputy corporate officer should not be having to say, ‘Hold on, personal, private.’ We need to learn our roles, and if the person who's the chair — or regardless who that may be — is going offside, that's enough to say, time to stop, let's get a different chair,” he said.

“Maybe it’s their lack of ability to understand their role at that point in time. Maybe it’s a lack of information. Maybe this is a way through this process the government has set up in the Community Charter for us to stay onside.”

Mayor not a fan of Braun report

Hamer-Jackson started his mayor’s report by saying he was committed to fulfilling the goals he had when he was elected, claiming it “became apparent” some city staff and council members weren’t interested in those same discussions.

He said it hadn’t been his intention to offend anyone, and then moved to talking about Braun’s report, saying he wanted to “address a few significant items.”

Hamer-Jackson told Castanet Kamloops he distrusts Braun’s report.

“He said he came in with an open mind, but he came in with a bunch of newspaper or media reports,” Hamer-Jackson said.

Braun, a former councillor and mayor of Abbotsford, said he had several one-on-one meetings with the mayor, attended council meetings, and conducted a number of other interviews and background research before drafting his report.

“I’d just like to see one email where I bullied or harassed. Everybody that I have allegedly — and these are still allegations, right? And again, I just tried to spell out the truth there. That’s the truth, it’s that I did not threaten to fire CAO [David] Trawin,” Hamer-Jackson said, referencing allegations laid out in an independent investigative report which concluded the mayor had violated council’s code of conduct numerous times by demeaning or disrespecting several staff members.

“Every time I go to try to tell the truth, they shut me down.”

Two members of the public removed from chambers

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Karpuk explained why he made the decision to use Community Charter section 132 to call for the mayor’s chair duties to be removed.

After Karpuk spoke, a member of the public stood up in the gallery and called out “point of order” while moving to the podium, ostensibly preparing to address council about the matter.

Two community services officers, one of whom had previously advised some members of the gallery they were not permitted to speak out of turn, asked the man to leave and escorted him out of the room. Councillors and most staff members left chambers as well — leaving the mayor at his seat.

Another woman in the gallery then stood up to address the mayor.

“Mr. Mayor, I just want to say that I support you, you represent truth, transparency and integrity,” she said, before being approached by a CSO.

“You’re not allowed to do that right now,” the CSO said, asking the woman to leave or else the officer would call the police.

“So go arrest me,” the woman said while exiting council chambers.

Council members and staff returned to the room after a short break and resumed the meeting.

Mayor has many other platforms to speak

When asked what he would say to people who have concerns the mayor didn’t have an opportunity to be heard, Karpuk said Hamer-Jackson has many platforms to have his say, including in the news media.

“There's nothing to say his freedom of speech has been kiboshed. This is strictly a business meeting for the city. And again, stay on course, stay on topic, don't stray into areas that we're not supposed to,” Karpuk said.

“This is the point of that person as the chair, regardless who it is.”

Amanda Passmore, the city’s deputy corporate officer, confirmed in an email to Castanet Kamloops the motion to remove chair duties from the mayor would have expired as the open meeting ended.

Council was set to convene for a closed meeting and a public hearing after the open meeting on Tuesday. Passmore said if Hamer-Jackson was present for either of those meetings, his chair status would return unless council similarly votes otherwise.

Hamer-Jackson told Castanet Kamloops he wasn’t sure he would attend the closed meeting. It is unclear if he did actually choose to participate.

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