Councillor Bob “Lapdog” Madigan — council’s most notable bully and misogynist — filed his papers for deputy mayor, a position for which he is supremely unqualified. Well, to be fair, he’s not really qualified for any council position, is he?
In almost eight years in office, Madigan’s accomplishments have been… well, nothing. Aside, that is, from being a misogynist bully; showing disrespect for not only other councillors and the public but for the office itself; acting the clown; sucking on the public tit, voting as he’s been told, and expressing egregiously oleaginous praise for his beloved former mayor.
But let’s look more closely at just a few highlights (or, rather, lowlights) from his poor record in office (click on the dates and links for more information):
First and foremost: Madigan is one of Saunderson’s gang of bullies who signed Coun. McLeod’s complaint to the town’s Integrity Commissioner against former Coun. Comi. Comi interrupted a council training session, inappropriately held in camera, to deal with a missing child. McLeod (nicknamed Saunderson’s Puppet or, less flatteringly, Saunderson’s Harridan and Saunderson’s Bulldog — as opposed to Saunderson’s Lapdog; a nickname reserved for Councillor Madigan) took umbrage over the interruption, and typed up the complaint, getting five others on council to sign identical copies. Madigan was among them (with Mayor Saunderson, Couns. Berman, McLeod, Doherty, and Jeffery). A frustrated and defeated Comi was bullied out of office. Comi had been the only independent voice at the table, the only one not in thrall to Saunderson. Madigan and the rest could not allow that to continue, and they replaced her with their personal friend and campaign donor (see below).
First Term (2014-18):
Jan. 15, 2018: Madigan made a motion to halt the development on a subdivision near his home, ostensibly to allow council to deal with “residents’ concerns” about it. But Madigan and his common-law spouse, as well as Madigan’s father-in-law, all lived and owned property in that adjacent neighbourhood, a street or two away from the new development in question. In any ethical council, that would have been seen as a conflict of interest, yet he blithely ignored the implications of his motion.
Feb. 26, 2018: At a time when three of the nine members of council were absent and could not participate in the discussion or vote, DM Saunderson snuck in his motion to call for a judicial inquiry into the events and people who hurt his feelings in 2012. It was approved by a razor-thin majority of five: Saunderson, Ecclestone, Jeffrey, Doherty, and Bob Madigan. Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry has cost taxpayers more than $10 million to date, much of it being paid to Saudnerson’s former employers. And taxpayers’ money continues to be wasted on it.
June 25, 2018: To stifle free speech in violation of basic democratic principles, Madigan made a motion to reduce council’s communications and deepen the secrecy around the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry. Madigan’s motion called for staff to “prepare a report on options for limiting council’s communications with the public while the inquiry is ongoing.” By July 13, council has been instructed not to voice any opinions on the SVJI, but to slough off questions onto the CAO. Of course, the mayor violated that motion as quickly as he could by giving media interviews.
Last term, Madigan voted to cancel a collaborative agreement for Collus-Powerstream to provide IT services to the town. That contract cost the town about $140,000-$160,000 a year. Instead, the town hired three new people to work from town hall. Council allocated them office space in town hall, and spent hundreds of thousands on new hardware and software. Now we pay almost four times as much for IT services every year. Good financial savvy, eh?
Last term, from 2016 through 2018, Madigan was one of Saunderson’s vocal sycophants who helped block the redevelopment of the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Their opposition cost the hospital the opportunity to get provincial funding and set the G&M’s plans back several years, hurting the community in the process. The hospital’s CEO pointed the finger at council for this debacle. Click here for a list of stories about council’s efforts to block it. Council discussed its opposition to the hospital in four closed-door meetings.
Last term, Madigan was one of Saunderson’s sycophants who secretly decided to sell our publicly-owned electricity utility to an out-of-province, for-profit corporation, giving up local control over service and rates. Approx. 40 in-camera meetings were held to scheme and finagle the sale, but NO public consultation was ever held over the sale. A considerable amount of public money was paid in a sole-sourced contract to Saunderson’s former employers to negotiate the sale.*
Last term, Madigan was one of Saunderson’s sycophants who secretly decided to sell our publicly-owned airport to a for-profit corporation, giving up local control over service and rates. No public consultation was ever held over the sale.* When Wasaga Beach dropped its financial support for the airport because Collingwood Council was making a very public mess of things there but not discussing anything with the town’s municipal partners, Madigan couldn’t understand why. Then when Clearview did the same thing, he was equally baffled. No one on council, much less Madigan, ever accepted responsibility for the mess they made.
Second Term (2018-2022):
April 8, 2019: Madigan votes to end funding for the popular, annual Collingwood Elvis Festival, cancelling the town’s major summer event and economic driver, without offering any suggestions for a replacement. The allegedly pro-business Madigan failed to even offer suggestions to help local hospitality and service industries recoup the money they would lose from the cancellation. A bungled attempt by the town to turn the festival over to private management failed miserably. A staff report from Feb. 2020 promised council would “move on from the Collingwood Elvis Festival (CEF) as a municipally-funded event” but in fact, it was simply killed without any effort to find an alternative.
July 22, 2019: Madigan voted against releasing data from a town survey on what to build at Sunset Point Park. Madigan interrupted Coun. Comi who was speaking to voice his opposition to making the data public.
Sep. 9, 2019: When local resident Ted Rowe publicly complained to council about the town’s refusal to release the survey data mentioned above, Madigan, who voted to keep it secret, blustered in his best Donald Trump impersonation, “I can assure you I am one of the most transparent people you will meet.” Saunderson provided the excuse for Madigan by blaming it on a “staff recommendation.”
July 29, 2020: Madigan did not attend the council meeting to discuss the use of barbecues by visitors at Sunset Point Park. Council “ordered a ban on all cooking at Sunset Point Park. ”
Mar. 15, 2021: When former Councillor Tina Comi began to speak during a council meeting, Madigan’s attention (seen in the panel above her) is clearly focused elsewhere instead of paying attention to her comments. At 0:57:45 he makes faces and visibly fidgets while she talks. The video is here. Fast forward to 0:55:39. Councillor Comi begins to speak about her concerns over how negatively the public is perceiving the continuing costs of the SVJI. During the discussion and vote, Madigan shows similar disrespect towards her and other female members of council. When the mayor is asked to deal with Madigan’s boorish behaviour, the mayor pretended he wasn’t looking, and didn’t see his Lapdog’s actions. Madigan smirked and made more faces.
Mar. 15, 2021, Madigan voted to waste the CAO’s time by sifting through “records kept by the electricity distributor when it purchased the utility formerly known as COLLUS PowerStream,” looking for something to further Saunderson’s vendetta against anyone who opposed his demand for the town to give the YMCA a $35 million handout in 2012. The emails had already been combed by the OPP, the judicial inquiry, and town lawyers without finding anything incriminating. “I think our public deserves more and they want more,” said Madigan. As expected, nothing was discovered, and the cost of the CAO’s time for this futile, self-serving exercise was never made public.
Mar 29, 2021: Madigan voted against a proposal to put aside $1 million for the future Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Redevelopment.
March 2021: Madigan voted for council to support the rightwing anti-vaxxer/anti-mandate campaign at the height of the pandemic, and ask local businesses and residents to write letters also demanding the province end the lockdowns. Although he is the owner of a local business that could benefit from the lifting, he did not declare a conflict of interest, but instead demanded council send “a more aggressive message to the province, telling the premier to put Collingwood in the green zone to match The Blue Mountains.”
May 6, 2021: Despite problems with graffiti, fires, and vandalism that continue to this day, Madigan voted against a curfew in local parks because he “used to spend time in the parks at night as a teen” and didn’t want to”deny others of those options.”
June 28, 2021: Madigan voted against reducing speed limits on local streets from 50 to a safer 40kmh despite community input requesting it.
July, 2021: Madigan is one of seven councillors who voted to give even more money in another sole-sourced contract to the mayor’s former employers (and Coun. Hamlin’s) to pursue the mayor’s wasteful personal vendetta (aka Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry). Neither Saunderson nor Hamlin disclosed their relationship with the legal firm, nor declared a conflict of interest.
Oct. 14, 2021: In a council meeting when Coun. Hamlin asked a question, Madigan did a very obvious facepalm and loudly exclaimed “Oh, my God…” He rubbed his face several times, then stared blearily at the camera, looking like someone barely revived after a long, hard night of excess. When Hamlin complained to the mayor about Madigan’s behaviour now and in the past, Saunderson refused to discipline his lapdog, and meekly cautioned Madigan to make sure his microphone was muted. Madigan smirked.
Hamlin commented during the meeting about Madigan’s continued abuse: ‘“I have personally observed so many instances of this councillor rolling his eyes and creating all kinds of ‘Gee, I wish you would shut up’-kind of looks.” Madigan ignored her complaint.
October 2021: Madigan’s boorish, disrespectful, and misogynistic behaviour towards fellow councillors so appalled local residents that a petition was launched online demanding Mayor Brian Saunderson actually do his job as head of council and discipline the misbehaving Councillor Madigan. Local business owner Suzanne Steeves presented a letter to council about Madigan’s behaviour towards female councillors and requested an apology. Both Saunderson and Madigan ignored it, of course.
October 2021: A clearly befuddled mayor and council discussed what they might possibly think of considering to perhaps debate the potential of maybe doing something about the ongoing pandemic that had affected the planet for almost two years. Apparently, the pandemic came as news to Madigan, who commented he didn’t “want to be affected by this in a tourism-based town where we depend on our summer students in parks, rec and culture.” Duh.
November. 2021: When CollingwoodToday asked each member of council to list what they felt was council’s greatest accomplishments this year, Madigan was one of those who couldn’t think of a single thing to name. Which sums up his contribution to the town quite succinctly.
Dec. 7, 2021: Council held a special Strategic Initiatives Standing Committee meeting to discuss, among other important things, the 2022 budget, the Grain Terminals Project Status & Built Heritage Assessment Report, and what to do about the absences of both the mayor (upcoming) and deputy mayor. At the start of the meeting (0:01:16 in the video), Madigan briefly dropped in on video — dishevelled, wearing a T-shirt with a mask dangling from one ear, his store shelves clearly visible in the background — to explain that he is at work in his retail store where he will attempt to “do his best” to be part of the conversation. Less than a minute later, he turned off the video feed and muted his audio. And that was the last we saw of him. He didn’t seem interested in actually participating in important town business or voting on any of the issues. Saunderson, as usual, failed to act like a mayor and deal with Madigan’s breach of decorum and protocol.
Outrage over Madigan’s behaviour during the meeting and his absence from important votes required the town to amend the procedural bylaw to prevent future occurrences of such behaviour. Madigan’s salary for attending meetings was more than $25,000 in 2020 and in 2021, plus benefits, payment for “special” meetings, and expenses. You’d think he might make a better effort to attend with all that money.
Yet, when Coun. Hamlin put forward a motion “intended to get more parents running for council seats by making it easier for candidates with school-aged children to put their names forward, the ever hypocritical Madigan said in Feb. 2022, that “We’re an elected official for the whole community and we should just do our best as adults to show up to the meetings.”
Jan. 24, 2022: Madigan is one of our morally and ethically bankrupt council who voted to rescind the Order of Collingwood from former CEO of Collus, Ed Houghton, because Ed was the only person Saunderson could punish for standing in the way of Saunderson’s ambitions in 2012. Houghton received the award for community service in 1998. But not content with just being petty, Saunderson and his sycophants made the town write a letter to Houghton’s employers to brag about rescinding his award. During the meeting, Madigan was sending and receiving text messages from others. In his most oleaginous manner, Madigan thanked The Great Leader for bringing forward the motion of revenge and said he appreciated it “wholeheartedly.” He also said, evidently without a trace of irony, that “I look forward to …instilling the trust that people want from elected officials and staff in Collingwood.” The town is still waiting for that trust from him and others on council.
Jan. 31, 2022: Madigan displayed more of his disrespectful behaviour towards a female colleague at a council meeting. Hamlin attempted to criticize council’s spending more than $7,000 on their collective support for McLeod’s complaint to the integrity commissioner. But Saunderson, who never disciplined the Lapdog, made Hamlin apologize instead. During the discussion, she said, “I was watching Coun. Madigan’s face and it was transgressing into territory where I’d have to involve you, Mr. Mayor,” said Hamlin. During that same meeting, Madigan defended his role in helping bully Comi out of office.
Feb. 7, 2022: A dishevelled Madigan again failed to pay attention during most of the meeting, and spent his time looking at something elsewhere. When he finally does look up, it is to make faces and smirk when resident Mark Stewart was speaking in a delegation to council. Stewart commented that in all his 45 years of watching municipal councils, he has never seen the sort of “shocking, bullying, misogynistic, anti-family, and perhaps ironically childlike behaviour” he has seen from this council. Madigan sneered, then he went back to doing whatever else he was doing instead of paying attention. A three-page letter from an angry resident criticizing Madigan’s behaviour and violations of the town’s Code of Conduct was presented to council. Madigan ignored it.
Mar. 10, 2022: Madigan voted to replace the bullied Comi with former mayor Chris Carrier: a lobbyist, friend, and donor to Madigan’s previous election campaign who didn’t even run for office. the democratic choice would have been Tim Fryer, who came in eighth in the council race. Like the others who voted for Carrier, Madigan did not disclose the close relationship he has with, or campaign donations he received from Carrier.
Madigan is an associate of a local blogger who was cited in a 2007 human rights court case for sharing Islamophobic materials. (See sec. 59e; more on the complaint is here.) Why has local media not caught this?
Madigan voted with council for four pay raises and a massive hike to council expense accounts this term, without once voting to lower property taxes or provide any financial support for local businesses and workers affected by the pandemic lockdowns.
Doesn’t the public deserve full disclosure about a candidate’s background before being asked to vote for them? We are still waiting for local media to question Madigan about his past.**
During his time in office, Madigan has done and said nothing substantial about the condition of the waterfront, the grain elevators, traffic calming, our potholed roads, and crumbling sidewalks. Like the rest, he ignored the pipeline contract to provide water to New Tecumseth and didn’t even get to it until a year after it had expired. And like the rest, he ignored staff reports about the need to upgrade and expand our water treatment plant until it suddenly became a self-made crisis. He then voted for the job-growth-and-revenue-killing interim control bylaw (ICBL) that stopped all new construction in town for several years to come.
He has offered no initiatives, no ideas, nothing of significance for the greater good of our town. In a council replete with mediocrities, he barely rates the status of underachiever.
Collingwood deserves better.
* When he ran for council in 2014, Madigan promised, “Openness and transparency are the keystones to this upcoming election. I believe the community as a whole needs to be more involved and have input with key decisions. In doing this, the elected will be accountable for the final decisions they make. It will make our town a better and more harmonious place to be.” He violated all of that within his first few months in office: council held far too many closed-door meetings last term.
** We’re still waiting for local media to ask ALL members of council whether they have a criminal record, and if so, for what offences. Didn’t they campaign for openness and transparency?