“Keep Politics out of Municipal Affairs” – MODL Council Rejects Gaza Ceasefire Motion



The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) Council defeated a motion on April 9 calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, with Councillors saying  it was not an appropriate matter for the municipality to consider. 

Council also rejected a request for a $10,000 donation from the Council Contingency Fund to the Red Cross humanitarian effort in Gaza. 

The tense debate that surrounded the motion proceeded differently than the unanimously-approved motion submitted by Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson in March 2022 to send a $10,000 donation for aid in Ukraine. 

Councillors who supported the Gaza ceasefire motion expressed the need for Council to define its donation policy following the discussion regarding the two cases.

Councillor Kacy DeLong submitted the motion at the April 9 Council meeting following a presentation delivered by South Shore Ceasefire Now to a Finance Committee meeting of MODL in March. 

DeLong said she heard from a “great number” of residents in her district that Council should pass a ceasefire motion given the horrifying and heartbreaking events of the conflict, a sentiment echoed by councillors Michelle Greek and Leitha Haysom. 

Other councillors, however, expressed a concern that calls for a ceasefire statement are outside the role of municipal governments and that a $10,000 donation could be more effectively used to alleviate poverty in the municipality. 

Several of these councillors expressed concern the motion was too divisive to pass, with Councillor Martin Bell asserting the need to keep “politics out of municipal affairs.” 

Councillor Haysom said other municipalities have made such statements, and that it is a valuable opportunity to speak out against war and hate.

Mayor Bolivar-Getson said, “I believe this is not a municipal issue and we cannot get involved in this. We have supported hurricanes and humanitarian relief, but it was not taking a side.” 

This interpretation that the ceasefire and donation motion was “picking sides” was shared by local resident Andrew Himmelman of Newcombville, who raised concerns during a public input statement that Council would not be able to ensure that a donation to the Red Cross’ operations in Palestine would not go to Hamas.

Councillor DeLong clarified that the proposed donation would be made to the Red Cross, which has no affiliation with the State of Israel or Hamas. 

Several councillors were either silent or expressed not knowing how to vote, saying that residents were too divided on the topic. 

Four councillors supported the motion to make a ceasefire statement: Kacy DeLong, Michelle Greek, Leitha Haysom, and Cathy Moore. 

Seven councilors rejected it: Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, Deputy Mayor Wendy Oickle, Martin Bell, Pam Hubley, Sandra Statton, Chasidy Veinotte and Reid Whynot. 

The vote on the donation motion had a similar result, with the exception of Councillor Kathy Moore voting against it.

The defeat of the donation motion prompted questions about the MODL’s donations policy. 

Councillor DeLong spoke to the inconsistency between the Mayor Bolivar-Getson’s unanimously-passed motion to make a $10,000 donation to the Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, and the decision to not make a similar donation for aid in Gaza. 

Council discussion came to the conclusion that there is a need to define its donation policies at a future meeting to determine how to proceed with future requests of humanitarian aid.

The proceedings were attended by an atypically-large crowd of 30 observers present for a number of motions, including supporters and opponents to the ceasefire motions.

The two motions submitted by Councillor DeLong follow five months of local protests organized by South Shore Ceasefire Now. 

South Shore Ceasefire Now has held a series of rallies and gatherings since October last year drawing crowds of between 60 to 150 residents in Bridgewater, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg.

 South Shore Ceasefire Now asked Bridgewater Town Council to adopt a similar ceasefire motion, which they passed in January. No donation was made by the Town of Bridgewater accompanying the statement.

You can listen to the entire discussion held by MODL Council in the recording made available by MODL at this link. The discussion on the Gaza Ceasefire motion begins at 1:15:00 in this clip.


Comments

One response to ““Keep Politics out of Municipal Affairs” – MODL Council Rejects Gaza Ceasefire Motion”

  1. […] Críostaí Ó Ceallaigh-Bisson published a wonderful article in the Lunenburg Barnacle in response t…. The consensus among Council was “we need to keep politics out of municipal government” (Councillor Martin Bell, listen here at 1:21:32 with multiple other Councillors in agreement), the irony of which I’m afraid our current Council will never understand. […]

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