At Monday night’s council (Jan. 31), there was yet one more example of the misogyny male members of council exhibit towards their female peers. And, as you might have expected, it involved Councillor Madigan, our mayor’s most loyal
lapdog supporter who never seems to be called out for his puerile behaviour.
The snippet begins with Councillor Hamlin expressing her disappointment that “our community has spent almost $7,000” for the Gang of Six** to file complaints about former councillor Comi’s behaviour to the town’s integrity commissioner (IC). Hamlin notes at 01:43:39 that she is the only one left at the table who did not participate in the bullying (she calls it the “team filing of this complaint” when it really should be the “gang of bullies filing.”).
Comi resigned from council about two weeks ago, but the IC’s report was made public last night despite her resignation. Our council is not one to let their victim off that easily.
Comi’s failure to be sufficiently deferential to The Great Leader was part of her downfall. Another was her vote last year not to hire BLG — the mayor’s former employers — in a sole-source contract.*** The legal firm was hired to search for ways to punish those who hurt Saunderson’s feelings in 2012. She was not in favour of adding more costs to the $10 million of taxpayers’ money already spent on the mayor’s vendetta (aka the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry, or SVJI; what has become our mayor’s version of Mao’s Little Red Book)****.
Not going along with the pack of sycophants at the table made Comi an outsider. And because she was a potential rival in the polls next election, most closed ranks against her.
As Hamlin speaks (01:42:35 in the video; around 00:19 in the snippet), Madigan visibly rolls his eyes (01:42:55; see screenshot, above). He’s made similar gestures before when Comi and Hamlin were speaking. While both women called him out for his boorish behaviour, in neither case did our mayor take Madigan — his most abjectly loyal follower — to task. Instead, Saunderson weaselled out of his responsibilities both times.
At 01:43:08 (00:28 in the snippet), Madigan pulls another face and loudly interrupts Hamlin, shouting “Woh, woh woh!” Saunderson says nothing to Madigan about his outburst, but won’t let Hamlin proceed until she “walk[s] back that comment.” Our mayor always stands up for his favourite sycophant.
Yet while Hamlin didn’t insult or accuse Madigan of anything, she was the one the mayor chastised. Hamlin is made to apologize. Madigan’s displeasure at being called out remains clear in his face despite her apology.
Does anyone else notice a trend here? Madigan publicly makes disrespectful faces, comments, or gestures while a female councillor is speaking and gets away with it. The female councillor gets bullied into resigning or gets made to publicly apologize.***** Every time Madigan misbehaved, the mayor claimed he wasn’t watching or didn’t see the event (why should the mayor even pay attention, after all?). But when a female councillor responds, the mayor disciplines her.
At 01:44:02 Hamlin explains why she didn’t think it was an ethical breach while the others ganged up on Comi, and why she still doesn’t believe it. It’s worth watching the video if only to see the look of disdain on Madigan’s face and the smirk on McLeod’s while Hamlin speaks. Also note that Hamlin admits that Comi was shamed by other councillors during the in-camera training session when Comi responded to a family emergency.
How is that not being bullied?
The Gang of Six Defend Themselves
At 01:51:00 Madigan speaks about “getting clarity from a third party that we weren’t wrong.” Bullies always love to have their acts rationalized by others. That doesn’t make it any less bullying.
And, risibly, at 01:52:06 Madigan says “We have to work as a team to instill the trust that the people have put into us.” Well, a gang of bullies isn’t a team, and it’s way too late in the term to get people to trust your lot. The rest of it is mostly the usual lickspittle palaver he’s known for,
At 01:52:53 McLeod — allegedly the ringleader who initiated the complaint and encouraged the others to sign on — speaks. She says she “agonized” for three weeks before filing her complaint. I suspect that agonizing was paired with a lot of gleeful cackling as she wrote it up. And coincidentally the other five all submitted identical complaints to hers.
McLeod, clearly reading from her prepared script, continued to rationalize her act with more self-aggrandizing bloviation. Her comments that the 2010-14 council cost the town several millions of dollars are just self-serving codswallop to justify wasting more than $10 million of taxpayer’s money on the SVJI. Besides, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bullying of a female councillor: it’s just deflection; trying to get the public to look elsewhere rather than at the bullies themselves.
McLeod’s most ironic comment was at 01:54:24: “I’m sensitive to the needs of working parents.” So sensitive that she filed a petty complaint against the only working parent on council and encouraged everyone else to file one against her. Ah, the hypocrisy.
(Jump ahead to 02:11:11 where McLeod attempts to use the “it was broken when I picked it up” defence to distance Comi’s resignation from the complaints as if they had nothing to do with each other.)
At 01:56:24 Doherty chimes in to support McLeod’s comments, but says she “regrets” Comi’s resignation. She didn’t regret filing her own complaint against Comi, however. She, too, justifies her action with the same sort of self-righteous, puritanical-burn-the-witch indignation that Madigan and McLeod voiced earlier.
Doherty’s ironic moment is at 01:58:04 when she claims, “My motivation was not political.” Yes, I laughed at that “water is not wet” approach, too.
At 01:58:28 Berman joins in the mosh pit to admit he couldn’t even remember what the complaint was about. Hardly confidence-building if his memory is so fragile it can’t recall his own actions against a fellow councillor a few months ago. Berman, who has contributed little of note this term aside from his motion to censor public comments, then raised an issue from 2014 as part of his justification for joining in the bullying. And he boasted about filing a complaint against Mayor Cooper last term, as if bullying was something to be proud of.
Berman’s ironic moment is his claim at several stages of his rambling diatribe, that the complaint was filed to “protect the residents” and it wasn’t politically motivated. That would be sadly funny if it wasn’t just Orwellian doublespeak for “protect my leader’s political interests.”
Kathy Jeffrey, another of the six who ganged up to file the complaint, speaks at 02:07:00. She, too, attempted to justify her actions, saying “it was handled as it needed to be handled.” I suppose she means the mayor and five councillors “needed” to file identical complaints within days of one another to prove how they weren’t acting like an organized, politically-motivated gang of bullies. How they got away with that, I cannot fathom.
Aside from her contribution to the smug self-justification the rest expressed, she wanted to make sure the public knew that she and the others had had other forms of training. La dee dah. I’ll write about her most recent, self-serving motion in a future post.
Finally, at 02:09;24, Saunderson himself asks the IC if all this had only come about because it was an in-camera rather than a public session. One would have thought the mayor knew that when he filed his own complaint, but perhaps he wasn’t paying attention again. To be clear: it was an in-camera training session last July (which should have been held in the open) at which no confidential information was discussed; the person who briefly interrupted Comi was an 11-year-old boy, and the mayor himself told Comi to leave the room to check on her missing daughter. Perhaps he forgot that part.
Madigan moves to accept the IC’s report, seconded by Berman (no surprises there). But before the vote, at 02:13:12 our SVJI-obsessed mayor has to throw in just one more quote cherry-picked from his own Little Red Book (aka the SVJI report) in a vain effort to publicly justify his and his sycophants’ behaviour. No one was fooled. Bullying is bullying.
Only Hamlin voted against receipt. One wonders if she will be the next one at the table bullied into resigning.
Comi’s and her lawyer’s letters to explain and defend her were accepted on the consent agenda without comment around 03:32:15 (cunningly buried at the very end of the agenda package). Not surprising that none of the complainants would want to openly discuss them, since they contradicted the narrative of guilt already established. Sort of like how they’ve handled the SVJI this term, isn’t it?
Like I’ve said previously, this whole process struck me as awfully similar to the show trials that Stalin held, at which the defendant had no say before being found guilty, and after which the judge and jury congratulated themselves on maintaining order and punishing enemies of the state. No doubt the next move will be to erase Comi from the public record, as Saunderson did with Ed Hougton. Sic semper tyrannus.
And on top of it all, Saunderson and his gang of bullies cost taxpayers another $7,000 for their pettiness.
Collingwood deserves better.
* The IC begins speaking at 01:37:07 and I may address his comments in another post. Suffice to say here that I feel his remarks are worth debating. At around 01:48;40 he speaks about a “technical breach about permitting somebody to participate in an in-camera session.” Permitting an unplanned event? How is that even possible? Permitting an 11-year old to participate? Clearly the child didn’t. At 01:50:40 he also notes Comi’s efforts to explain herself, and when they were ignored, her solicitor’s explanation were “adversarial.” It seems anyone who protests the flogging must be flogged even more until they are subservient to what the IC himself calls the “culture of compliance” at the council table. This whole affair reminds me of the definition of an authoritarian regime: “Everything which is not compulsory is forbidden.”
** The six who filed identical reports when Comi’s 11-year-old son accidentally interrupted their council training session were: Mayor Saunderson and his Gang of Bullies: Berman, McLeod, Doherty, Jeffery, and Madigan. Comi’s lawyer’s letter asked:
…Councillor Comi requests that the author of the Schedule “A” that is replicated in each of the identical copied complaints of Mayor Saunderson and Councillors, Jeffrey, Mcleod, Madigan, Doherty and Berman be revealed.
However, being a coward as all bullies are, the author of these identical complaints would not admit to doing so. Comi’s accuser was allowed to remain secret. How is that fair or just?
These six are, as Shakespeare wrote in Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 1 Sc 1), “Things base and vile, holding no quantity.”
*** The blatant references to the SVJI in the IC’s $7,000 report make me wonder if the mayor colluded to write the report. Regardless, the taxpayer paid for both.
**** Despite numerous recommendations in the SVJI’s final report to avoid even the appearance of (apparent) conflicts of interest Saunderson has ignored those and voted numerous times to sole-source BLG, his former employers, without ever publicly disclosing his previous employment with them. Très hypocritical, but then that’s what he has always been.
The text under the Maoist poster above reads, “Thought is the magic weapon to victoriously combat all enemies at home and abroad!” which sounds like something our mayor would also say if you simply changed “Thought” to “My judicial inquiry.”
***** In previous meetings, Madigan can be seen apparently typing messages on another device to Coun. McLeod (who smirks when reading them) and in another is seen chatting to someone in the room with him. The video of the Feb. 22, 2021 meeting (see here at 00:23) clearly shows him talking to someone in the room with him, but outside the camera’s view, just before council went into an in-camera session. How can anyone be sure that person was not still in the room during the in-camera period? Yet in none of these instances did our lacklustre mayor even mention Madigan’s behaviour, let alone correct it. And no one filed a complaint to the IC about him. Being a lapdog has its privileges, it seems.