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Carbonear council members recess meeting following another interruption from public gallery

A few minutes after Acting Mayor Chris O’Grady ordered a recess in response to repeated interruptions from a person in the public gallery, the Town of Carbonear’s Tuesday council meeting resumed.
A few minutes after Acting Mayor Chris O’Grady ordered a recess in response to repeated interruptions from a person in the public gallery, the Town of Carbonear’s Tuesday council meeting resumed. - Andrew Robinson

CARBONEAR, NL — There was some uncertainty at Tuesday’s Carbonear council meeting whether it would ultimately continue after the town’s acting mayor ordered a recess.

That was in response to interruptions from the public gallery by resident Gerard Butt, the brother of former mayor Frank Butt, who was removed from council in December over an alleged conflict of interest. That decision is now the subject of an application before the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, with a two-day hearing scheduled for next month. Frank Butt was among those seated in the gallery Tuesday.

Council members and town staff initially tried to prevent this man from displaying a sign showing support for ousted mayor Frank Butt, but they eventually relented.
Council members and town staff initially tried to prevent this man from displaying a sign showing support for ousted mayor Frank Butt, but they eventually relented. — Compass file photo

When the doors to the council chambers were first opened, there was some discussion about the presence of a man holding a sign displaying a message of support for Frank Butt, who

Initially, council members and town staff asked the man to put away the sign, but he refused to do so.

“If there’s some reason why I can’t have my sign here, show me where it says (so) in the law or bylaw and I’ll certainly leave,” he said.

The subject was immediately dropped and the man remained in the gallery with his sign.

Then when council got ready to adopt the minutes from a previous meeting, Gerard Butt stood up and asked Acting Mayor Chris O’Grady to have those minutes read aloud.

“It seems to be ludicrous to vote on something for people in the gallery, myself in particular, and we don’t even know what you’re voting on,” he said. “I doubt the councillors know.”

O’Grady ruled he was out of order for speaking, adding he’d been warned at previous meetings he was not permitted to interrupt them. Shortly after Gerard Butt responded, O’Grady asked him to leave the council chambers, and said they would adjourn until he chose to do so. It was the second time in just over a month O’Grady asked Gerard Butt to leave a council meeting, which he eventually did.

“If you don’t leave, you know what will happen. We’ve had that discussion too,” O’Grady said.

For the second time in just over a month, Carbonear resident Gerard Butt was asked to leave a council meeting.
For the second time in just over a month, Carbonear resident Gerard Butt was asked to leave a council meeting. — Compass file photo

“The only reason I’ll leave is so the people in the gallery don’t have to miss the show,” Gerard Butt said. “But don’t go threatening me with RCMP.”

Once council members adjourned the meeting and left the room, Gerard Butt also left, as did the man with the sign, who chose to leave his sign with a fellow resident. After a few minutes, town staff and council members returned to resume the meeting.

Following the events of the Jan. 9 council meeting, Harbour Grace RCMP investigated Gerard Butt’s actions but did not lay charges. O’Grady subsequently told The Compass it was not council’s intention to have him arrested or charged. He said the town simply wanted some clarification on whether it could contact police to remove disruptive meeting attendees from the public gallery.

SEE RELATED:

'RCMP investigates Carbonear resident's actions at council meeting'

'Two-day hearing in March for Frank Butt versus Town of Carbonear'

'Tensions flare at Carbonear council meeting over mayor's removal'

'Frank Butt accuses Carbonear council of bias, undemocratic conduct in court application'

'Town of Carbonear releases more details about former mayor's removal'

'Frank Butt to appeal ouster from Carbonear council'

'Carbonear mayor Frank Butt's seat declared vacant'

'Frank Butt elected as mayor of Carbonear'

editor@cbncompass.ca

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