Lunenburg CAO Apologizes For Comments Accidentally Livestreamed During Private Meeting – Council Cancels Plans For Emergency Meeting



Jamie Doyle, CAO of the Town Of Lunenburg, apologized on Thursday for comments accidentally broadcast to the public during a private in camera session of Lunenburg Council on Tuesday evening.

Mayor Jamie Myra told the Barnacle on Thursday morning, before the CAO’s apology was published, that Town Council planned to have an emergency meeting in the evening, but this was cancelled.

Following the conclusion of the public portion of Tuesday’s regular meeting of Council, Council went into a private in camera session to discuss personnel matters.

However, while members of the public in the gallery had to leave the room – a standard procedure under the Municipal Government Act – someone forgot to turn off the Town’s Zoom livestream, and a portion of the in camera session was broadcast to people watching the meeting online.

The Barnacle is not publishing what Doyle allegedly said because we have no evidence of what was broadcast.

On March 27, Doyle announced his intention to resign as CAO, citing personal reasons. His resignation is effective May 10, before the next Council meeting. The Town of Lunenburg has announced Hilary Grant, currently Director of Community Development, as interim CAO effective upon Doyle’s departure.

CAO apologizes for “candour”

On Thursday afternoon, Doyle issued an apology for comments made during the broadcast portion of the in camera meeting, issuing this statement through the Town:

“After conversations with legal counsel to have a better understanding of what I can say and what I can’t, I want to publicly apologize for my candour in the recent in camera session. 

My behaviour does not reflect the opinions or sentiments of staff or Council. My actions have had repercussions on them, and for that I am certainly sorry. 

Moving forward, I will ensure I adhere to the professional standard this Council and organization deserve.”

Mayor apologized on Wednesday morning

Mayor Jamie Myra had already issued an apology for the comments on Wednesday morning on his Facebook page, writing:

“Last evening, we had a technical difficulty that resulted in some of our in-camera discussions being heard by the public. While in-camera sessions are a safe space to speak freely, it does not mean we should be lax in our professionalism. 

As the mayor, I apologize for any negative issues this might create moving forward as that certainly was never the intent of these meetings. 

Moving forward, I will do better to ensure we conduct sessions and ourselves to the high standards expected and this community deserves.”

Mayor tells Barnacle there will be an emergency meeting, meeting is cancelled

In a phone interview with The Barnacle on Thursday morning, Myra says he was told by the Town’s legal counsel on Wednesday that he was not allowed to refer to or deny what was said during any part of the in camera meeting.

Myra told The Barnacle that there would soon be a post published to the Town website about an emergency meeting of Council, on a personnel matter, to be held later that evening in an in camera session at 6 p.m. 

He said that if any motions were passed at the meeting, they would be made public afterwards.

“This isn’t being blown under the rug or anything else, we’ve made a statement and now we’re meeting tonight. We’re having an emergency meeting. I think it’s the first emergency meeting I can think of in the community in a very long time, so we’re taking it serious. That’s all I can say,” said Myra.

“What the public has to sometimes understand is that we’re very tied and very limited to what we can and can’t talk about, for legal [sic], under the MGA (Municipal Government Act). So it’s not that we’re trying not to be more open with you guys at times, we just can’t. We’re not allowed. I mean, I can’t talk about personnel stuff in public, that’s just wrong.”

“Until we meet, and we haven’t really discussed it – because, to be honest, we didn’t really know the magnitude of what was said and what was heard, because we picked it up very early and turned it off. So I didn’t even understand what everybody heard at first, and then some people who watched or heard it sent me – sort of paraphrasing what they heard, or what they thought they heard. So now we have to deal with that.”

“My apology, I know, yesterday, was pretty bland, but that’s basically how I felt, right?”

After the CAO’s message was published, Mayor Myra called The Barnacle to say that, since the interview earlier that morning, there will be no emergency meeting, and that the Town has instead published the CAO’s apology. 

“That’s the only thing I’ll be commenting on, for that,” said Myra.

The Barnacle emailed Jamie Doyle a request for comment on Wednesday afternoon. As of press time, Doyle has not responded.

Town staff confirmed on Friday that Council did not meet on Thursday.

Situation marks second time this year that statements at Council invoke legal involvement

Doyle and Myra’s comments show this is the second situation this year where it has become public that the Town’s legal counsel had to get involved with decisions regarding how to communicate during Council meetings.

At the January 9 meeting of Council, Mayor Myra passed an incomprehensible motion aimed towards removing the title of Deputy Mayor from Councillor Ed Halverson.

You can read about this in detail in our January 12 story, Lunenburg Council Replaces Deputy Mayor In Surprise Vote Based on Cornwallis Street Renaming Comments, Remote Meeting Attendance, under the header “Deputy Mayor was voted out based on an incomprehensible motion retroactively changed based on CAO’s interpretation”.

At the January 23 meeting of Council, Mayor Jamie Myra addressed the motion, saying: “We’ve had some legal advice on this, obviously, with all the correspondence and media coverage we’ve been getting on that meeting. So what we’ll do is go back, and quite honest, I’ll take the blame for that – I didn’t read any of the actual official motions out, because if you go back and look at the actual meetings of council for the last fifteen years, motions aren’t read out a lot, but tonight we’re going to start following our policy again.”


Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *