Ponoka town council requests apology of town councillor

Ponoka town council requests apology of town councillor but it is uncertain what the response will be.

Ponoka town Coun. Tim Falkiner

Ponoka town Coun. Tim Falkiner

A request by town council for Coun. Tim Falkiner to apologize for swearing at the mayor at a recent meeting may not come with the answer requested.

Council made the motion Feb. 14 stating a lack of respectful behaviour as the reason to have Falkiner apologize for walking out of council’s meeting on Jan. 24 and then swearing at the mayor. The only person to vote against the motion was Mayor Rick Bonnett and Falkiner was not in attendance.

Falkiner stated during the regular meeting Feb. 28 that he hadn’t see the letter yet. “I can advise you right now that my appropriate response is, whatever’s said in this chamber is privileged.”

“If you’re looking for apology, as members of the community, don’t vote for me coming up in October,” he added.

There was some confusion over the two statements. For the latter, Falkiner has stated to several residents on different occasions that he is not running for council in the next municipal election. His statement contrasts with earlier comments to residents.

For the former, it is presumed Falkiner is referring to being protected legally when comments are made at a public meeting.

In the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the overarching rules that councils and administrations must follow, it states in section 535 that councillors “…are not liable for loss or damage caused by anything said or done or omitted to be done in good faith in the performance or intended performance of their functions…”

A search of the word ‘privilege’ under the MGA brings up issues regarding mostly privilege for inspectors, however, within the Standing Order of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta there is privilege when it comes to the Role of the Speaker, although those rules do not apply in a municipal council meeting.

Generally councils follow the Robert’s Rules of Order, a guide in conducting meetings.

Falkiner stated he will respond appropriately when he receives the letter.