'I will ask you again tonight to consider stepping aside,' Warden condemns mayor's comments
BARRIE, ONT. -- Warden Darren White addressed Dufferin County Council today and condemned the lesbian and homosexual comments made by Amaranth Township Mayor Bob Currie on June 17th.
In an open Amaranth Township Council meeting on Zoom, Mayor Currie said, "If everybody was either lesbian or homosexual, this would be the last generation on Earth. Because two homosexuals cannot produce offspring...two lesbians cannot produce offspring. So, why would I want to support something when this would be the last generation on Earth? I'm not going to go there."
In reaction to that statement, Warden White said he cannot "fathom the pain caused by comments made recently," adding, "our community, much like many others in our great nation, is only enriched by members of the LGBTQ2+ community."
On Wednesday, Mayor Currie declined the opportunity to apologize and told CTV News, "If I hurt somebody, that's their problem, not mine. But anyways, I did not say, I don't say what I do say, okay, to offend people."
Warden White requested Currie to step aside from his current role at county council.
"Given your comments and my belief that you violated the Code of Conduct, I don't believe you should remain in a position where you are a Committee Chair representing a Department and being a spokesperson for the County of Dufferin.
And I will ask you again tonight to consider stepping aside from your role as Chair of Infrastructure and Environmental Services Committee. I would like you to apologize."
Read the full statement from Warden Darren White below:
“As Warden of Dufferin County, I want to let you know that I wholeheartedly and without reservation disagree with comments made by Bob Currie, Mayor of Amaranth, and Dufferin County Council member.
Our County, and the vast majority of people in it, support all members of our society and believe in an inclusive, diverse and vibrant community in which respect and dignity are not things people should have to fight for.
Our community, much like many others in our great nation is only enriched by members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
I cannot begin to fathom the pain caused by comments made recently and I promise that your County government and its many staff members stand with you today and every day.
There is simply no place in leadership at any level that includes hateful and divisive comments that serve only to hurt.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among other things, guarantees that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms also guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.
The rights and freedoms in the Charter are not always absolute, they can be limited to protect other rights or important national values. For example, freedom of expression may be limited by laws against hate propaganda or hate speech directed at any group.
It is with these rights in mind that we must strive to lead in an inclusive manner, in a manner that includes respect for others and dignity for all without question.
Those of us given the privilege to lead must be above all reproach. We must be broad in our beliefs, strong in our resolve and resolute in what we seek as outcomes for those that we represent.
Any leader who truly has the best interest of the County and its residents at heart would not make comments and cause the type of pain felt today by a segment of our community.
Counsellor Currie, public statements made by you indicating you won’t apologize for speaking your truth and that if people are hurt by what you have said that’s their problem, have no place at this table. Members of the LGBTQ2+ community should not have to apologize for their truth either. They should be able to live their lives free from persecution and hate in this community and in any other in this great nation, in accordance with our Canadian values.
We find ourselves in challenging times. The struggles we face these days are about more than just one issue. The conversations that we need to have about equity, about inclusion, about diversity, are necessary and they must reflect all of our views.
Diversity, inclusion and equity are not just politically correct words that we get to use. They represent conversations that we need to have and actions that we need to take. They are fundamental and they are structural changes that we have to make to the way we lead and the way we govern and the way we live.
A great member of our community gave me some advice just the other day when we were talking about racism and diversity. What he said stuck with me and it is transferrable to this conversation as well and it is simply this.
These conversations will be difficult, they will be challenging, they will be painful, and they will be emotional, but they are conversations that must be had and you are either prepared to have them or you are an obstacle to progress.
The County of Dufferin Code of Conduct for Members of Council states in section 1.14 the following: members will avoid any conduct towards a member of counsel or staff which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome which offends, embarrasses or intimidates or which reflects intolerance towards any group or individual. It is my belief that you have violated this section, as well as sections 1.12, 1.15, and 1.16 of our Code of Conduct by your comments. It is however not my place to adjudicate violations of the Code of Conduct that is the purview of the Integrity Commissioner.
I do believe however that your comments do not reflect the values and the vision of the Council of the County of Dufferin nor do they reflect the Corporate culture and ethics of our government or our staff.
Given your comments and my belief that you violated the Code of Conduct, I don’t believe you should remain in a position where you are a Committee Chair representing a Department and being a spokesperson for the County of Dufferin.
And I will ask you again tonight to consider stepping aside from your role as Chair of Infrastructure and Environmental Services Committee. I would like you to apologize.”