By Trevor Busch
With the attendance of Coun. Jack Brewin on June 27, town council avoided having to officially authorize the councillor’s absence due to health concerns, preventing his disqualification as an elected official under the Municipal Government Act.
Although Brewin attended the June 27 regular meeting, administration had originally indicated it was “expected that Councillor Brewin will be absent for longer than this period of time.”
As justification, administration warned consideration should be given to a motion to prevent Brewin’s disqualification as an elected representative.
“I’m in the happy position of saying you do not have to pass this motion anymore,” said CAO Greg Birch. “We weren’t sure if Mr. Brewin was going to be able to be back. There is a stipulated time within the MGA, where if a councillor is away for longer than that period — approximately two months — if it were longer you have to have council approval. Otherwise you’re automatically disqualified. But given that you’ve come back and you’re here today, there’s actually no reason to consider this.”
Brewin has missed multiple council meetings over the past year due to health concerns, and was recently the recipient of a liver transplant and is still recovering from his surgery.
In accordance with the Municipal Government Act (MGA), town council has the ability to authorize councillor absences for longer than eight weeks by resolution of council.
“I appreciate that, and I appreciate the support that council has given me,” said Brewin.
Under Sec. 174(1)(D) of the MGA (Disqualification of Councillors), a councillor is disqualified from council if the councillor is absent from all regular council meetings held during any period of eight consecutive weeks, starting with the date that the first meeting is missed, unless a resolution is made under Sec. 174(2), that a councillor is not disqualified by being absent from regular council meetings under subsection (1)(D) if the absence is authorized by a resolution of council passed at any time before the end of the last regular council meeting of council in the eight week period, or if there is no other regular meeting of the council during the eight week period, at any time before the end of the next regular meeting of council.
Under Sec. 175(1) of the MGA (Enforcement of Disqualification), a councillor that is disqualified must resign immediately, and if this is refused, council or an elector may apply to a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench for an order declaring the person to be officially disqualified (MGA Sec. 175(2)).
“I think we’re all happy to see you back in a more healthier form,” said Mayor Henk DeVlieger. “You feel much better, and we’re glad to see back and working with you again. All I want to say is, if you sometimes feel — and at times it can happen yet — don’t feel guilty if you have to stay home, to stay home.”
Brewin indicated he would focus on his recovery when required, if this meant absenting himself from further meetings.
“Life’s more important than a council meeting, I agree,” said Brewin.
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to authorize the absence of Coun. Jack Brewin from previous council meetings, and to “Welcome him back to the fold of town council, as he was much missed.”