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City to report on elected officials’ meeting attendance

Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre introduced the motion, which directs the city to provide a quarterly report summarizing city councillors' attendance for all regular, closed and special meetings of council and its committees, as well as outside boards
Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre, pictured during a recent city council meeting, introduced a successful motion to have city administration provide a quarterly report summarizing their attendance records for all regular, closed and special meetings of council and committees, as well as outside boards.

There will soon be quarterly records of Greater Sudbury city council members’ attendance, thanks to a successful motion by Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre. 

The motion asks the city clerk “to provide a quarterly report summary of attendance or partial attendance by members of council to all regular, closed, and special meetings of council and its committees on a city council agenda.”

Although the information is already available in meeting minutes, Lapierre told his colleagues that the quarterly reports will make it “easier for the public to see” their attendance records.

“I think it’s part of good governance for us,” he said. 

Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh tacked a friendly amendment onto Lapierre's motion during the Feb. 7 city council meeting, which will see city administrators also track members’ attendance records with outside boards on an annual basis.

City council began debating Lapierre’s motion at the end of their Jan. 24 meeting, but the discussion was cut short when the meeting timed out at the three-hour mark and city council failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote needed to proceed.

The debate concluded on Feb. 7, at which time the city’s elected officials were near unanimous in supporting it. The only member to vote against it was Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini.

“What is the purpose of doing this?” he asked, adding that the last time he was asked to take attendance was in high school.

He later asked whether city administration was going to also impose a dress code, which Mayor Paul Lefebvre said was not insinuated anywhere in the motion up for debate.

Although Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier was not present during the Feb. 7 meeting, he expressed early opposition to it on Jan. 24.

The motion, he said, “asks council to create additional new red tape with added staff time and costs to duplicate the very same instantly available information.”

Further, he asserted that the motion would put city councillors at risk of breaching the Code of Conduct for admitting to being at closed meetings of city council. The Municipal Act allows closed meetings under specific circumstances, and city council holds them regularly.

Montpellier claimed that he was fined $5,000 for merely admitting to being at a closed-door meeting, but this doesn’t appear to have been the case.

“I admitted attendance, everything else was cleared, and in the very last minute the fact that I had said I was at a closed meeting, I was fined $5,000,” Montpellier said on Jan. 24.

A March 8, 2021, report by city integrity commissioner Robert Swayze notes that Montpellier’s “disclosure of the fact that the CAO was ‘addressed’ in a ‘secret meeting’ was a release of confidential information contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Code.” 

Publicly commenting on the contents of an in-camera meeting goes beyond merely saying he was at a meeting, and Swayze contended that Montpellier did so in both a media interview and a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On March 23, 2021, city council opted to reprimand Montpellier and not follow Swayze’s recommendation that the councillor be suspended $6,600 in salary.

Lefebvre clarified that attendance is already taken and that the only change Lapierre’s motion would bring is that the results would be tallied up on a quarterly basis in reports to city council.

Montpellier affirmed that he’d be “OK with that,” though he accompanied his approval by reiterating a caution to his colleagues: “$5,000 for admitting attendance.”

With absences already recorded in City of Greater Sudbury meeting minutes, dug through whatever minutes were available for 2022 meetings as of Feb. 7 and tallied up the totals for all city council and committee meetings. These numbers may grow as more meetings' minutes become available. Absenteeism was as follows:

  • Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti: 9
  • Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini: 8
  • Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier: 9
  • (Then-) Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland: 4
  • (Then-) Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan: 2
  • Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre: 4
  • (Then-)Ward 7 Coun Mike Jakubo: 3
  • Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer: 5
  • Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh: 1
  • Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier: 0
  • Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc: 9
  • Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann: 4 
  • (Then-) Mayor Brian Bigger: 5

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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