Eganville — Last week’s North Algona Wilberforce Township council meeting began with the usual Mayor’s address given by Mayor James Brose, but his address ended with him calling out former Mayor Deb Farr for spreading lies and attacking his personal character after she sent an email to all council members stating he was having secret meetings to amalgamate the township with neighbouring Bonnechere Valley Township.
After he concluded his address, Mayor Brose said he had one additional item to add that was not contained in the council package. He calmly picked up a prepared statement, and before reading it, he looked at Mrs. Farr who was sitting in the front row of the gallery and then addressed the gallery.
“On Friday morning I received an email that I found quite disturbing from the former mayor, Deborah Farr,” he said. “The email was addressed to myself and all members of council. The letter stated: ‘Can you explain to the residents of North Algona Wilberforce why the Mayor and the Warden are discussing amalgamation without first going to the residents’?…It goes on to say, ‘Having joint service agreements are one thing, but talking over a glass of wine to amalgamate is something else.’
It was quite obvious to the 22 people seated in the gallery Mayor Brose was very upset about an attack on his character. In the previous term of council, when Mayor Farr served as head of council from 2014-2018, both she and then councillor Brose were often at loggerheads over a number of issues, and at one point, he called on the mayor to resign as he suggested she lost the confidence of council.
Then-Mayor Farr refused, and throughout that four-year term, Mrs. Farr made a number of accusations against Mayor Brose and other members of council that resulted in legal bills amounting to almost $100,000. The accusations were never substantiated.
Mayor Brose made no secret of his feelings when he and all members of council received the correspondence.
“I took this as a personal attack on my character and morals,” he said. “I have had and will have conversations with the warden and others about many subjects, including amalgamation if that is required. I understand fully that if there was ever to be amalgamation of townships it is a process that is not created out of two people having a conversation. It is a process that is open and that the councils, the province and the residents are involved in.”
He then addressed the issue on a more personal issue.
“As for the glass of wine comments, who I have a glass of wine with would be my business if I were to have a glass of wine and for the record, I do not drink wine,” he said as several in the gallery started laughing at that comment.
During his comments, Mrs. Farr sat in the front row and merely stared expressionless towards the council table.
It should be noted Mayor Brose was one of four candidates for mayor in the 2018 election and when the ballots were tallied up on the evening of October 22, he finished with a total of 668 votes ahead of Nora Shay who came in second with 475 ballots, followed by John Keuhl with 458 and Mrs. Farr who was last with 239 votes.
He concluded his remarks by calling out Mrs. Farr for purposely and knowingly spreading falsehoods.
“The letter was a fabrication and the contents were blatantly false,” he said. “I can only come to the conclusion that the purpose of the letter was hurtful, vexatious and meant to spread negative false information.”
Ironically, Mrs. Farr was then called on as a delegation immediately after his remarks and the approval of the agenda.
Instead of taking the customary seat and desk in front of council, she chose to make her remarks from her chair in the gallery. She inquired as to the protocol of the township’s website, the timeliness of information being placed on it and whether the township was examining its layout as she said it is not user-friendly and may be difficult for some residents with vision problems to accurately read the content.
Following her delegation, Mayor Brose opened up the floor for comments, and none of the four councillors spoke directly to Mrs. Farr.
CAO Andrew Sprunt spoke on the status of the website and noted it was one of the projects township staff were undertaking to see if there were ways to improve its content and accessibility.
Mayor Brose thanked Mrs. Farr for her comments and carried on to the next agenda item.