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.
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.
“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.