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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Perceived Snub by Prime Minister Irks Owen Sound Councillors

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Several councillors voice displeasure Justin Trudeau did not invite the mayor to meet him while in Owen Sound.

Several Owen Sound councillors are upset over a perceived snub by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his recent visit to the city.

Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary said at Monday night's council meeting he is disappointed the mayor was not invited to greet the Prime Minister when he was in Owen Sound on September 4.

"It's the mayor's chair and if the Prime Minister comes to town, the mayor should be there to greet him," O'Leary said. 

Coun. John Tamming echoed O'Leary's comments and said he hopes it was an error. Coun. Marion Koepke called it a huge oversight "somewhat disrespectful" of the mayor's position.

Mayor Ian Boddy said it's always an honour to represent Owen Sound when these people come to the community.

"It's an unfortunate oversight, obviously," Boddy said.

Trudeau made two stops during his visit to the city. First, he held a rural broadband discussion at Mudtown Station restaurant. He later attended a campaign event at Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound federal Liberal candidate Michael Den Tandt's office on 8th Street East.

Den Tandt said the rural broadband discussion at Mudtown Station was a government organized event that had nothing to do with his campaign office.

He noted no area politicians were invited to the discussion as it was intended for direct engagement between the Prime Minister and small business folks in Owen Sound.

Den Tandt said the partisan event the Prime Minister attended at his office on 8th Street East was a campaign launch and it was open for all to attend.

"Of course we would have been happy for Mayor Boddy to attend," Den Tandt said. "And a couple of (Owen Sound) councillors did attend."

Den Tandt added there was no snub intended of any kind to anyone.

"I'm disappointed if anyone took that away from this," he explained. "Because this was certainly a positive event."

In Georgian Bluffs, Mayor Dwight Burley heard the Prime Minister was arriving at the township-owned Wiarton-Keppel International Airport and made his way there to greet him when he arrived.

"I knew the Prime Minister was coming to our airport and it was only appropriate the Mayor of Georgian Bluffs meet and greet him," Burley said. "Would I have liked to have an invitation beforehand? It wouldn't have made any difference. I thought it was appropriate to meet him and I did."

"But since the Prime Minister was going to the City of Owen Sound," continued Burley, "I think it would have been appropriate to invite the mayor and greet him."

Boddy said he didn't go to greet the Prime Minister cause he wasn't comfortable having not received an invite or advance notice.

He cited the recent visit Premier Doug Ford made to Owen Sound during the Salmon Spectacular, and noted he was contacted in advance about him attending.

"From my experience, it's always been that they would let you know and invite you," Boddy said.

Bayshore Broadcasting News contacted the Prime Minister's Office to ask if anyone reached out to Owen Sound's mayor to invite him to the rural broadband discussion, or to set up an official greeting.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement the Prime Minister’s visit to Mudtown Station was an opportunity to meet directly with local business owners to discuss the importance of rural broadband connectivity to economic development in Canada. 

"The group assembled that day, which included the President of the Chamber of Commerce, offered a cross-section of local business leaders to discuss the challenges faced by local businesses, the government programs available to help mitigate them, and underscore the areas in which the government could help further," the statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.

According to several sources, the last time a sitting Prime Minister came to Owen Sound prior to Trudeau's stop last week was in 2006 when Paul Martin attended to support the local federal Liberal candidate at the time.

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