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Bill Gade's report on the AMM conference - Municipality of Swan Valley West Nov. 29

The following is a transcript and audio version of an exchange that took place at the Municipality of Swan Valley West Nov. 29 regular meeting. It starts with a verbal report from Councill Bill Gade, followed by a response from Reeve Bill Galloway. There is an edit point at 6:50 in the audio to subtract the verbal reports of two other councillors.

Galloway: Thank you. Councillor Gade.

Gade: Mine will be a little lengthy. I actually wrote it out to make sure I didn’t misspeak, so hopefully you don’t mind that I read it.

This week I attended the Association of Manitoba Municipalities annual convention in Winnipeg. I suggest that it is somewhat accepted throughout the province that all elected officials as well as the CAO of the municipality general attend that meeting. In the case of Swan Valley West, that did not happen. Instead only four members of council attended and the CAO did not attend. Of the four members that attended, two stayed only for three hours of the three-day event. Mr. Galloway and myself were the two members that were there for most of the event, and I was the sole member who attended the entire event. I’ve been asked by Mr. Galloway in the past to be part of the team here at Swan Valley West, as strong teamwork is important. This week at the AMM convention, it certainly appeared as though our team had only one member working for what is best for our citizens.

The council of Swan Valley West requested two meetings with ministers from the provincial government during the conference -- or rather requested meetings and two were granted. On Monday morning, our entire council was scheduled first to meet with Minister Wharton, and then with Minister Cox. I was never told by Mr. Galloway that these meetings existed. It’s important to understand that Mr. Galloway has visited staff in our municipality in the past weeks, and told them that they are not allowed to speak to me about anything for any reason. He has done this without colour of right, and without a decision of council.

I assume that the only reason I was not told about the meetings are that the staff were not allowed to speak to me, and Mr. Galloway himself has decided that he did not need to attend. His possible decision to keep me from attending was just another in a long line of incidents where he has acted without colour of right and without a decision from this council.

However, even though I will be the subject of bullying and intimidation by the reeve, I still serve the citizens of our municipality. Therefore, I conducted my own research to find out where to attend the rather important ministerial meetings. I cannot say that I have any surprise that Mr. Galloway failed to inform Councillor Wills or Councillor Kushniryk of the meetings. The game of intimidation and denial of knowledge seems to extend beyond just targeting my seat on this council. What did surprise me is that Mr. Galloway himself failed to attend either meeting with the ministers. Instead I was left as the only representative of Swan Valley West to meet with the province on several important issues.

I was asked directly by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to explain the lack of attendance by my council. I admit that I’m not prepared to lie to cover up the games undertaken by Mr. Galloway. I was frank with the minister about the current status of the Swan Valley West council and the actions taken toward council members and staff by the reeve.

Prior to meeting with Minister Cox, I asked the Town of Swan River council to join our discussions so that it would be less apparent that Swan Valley West had only one representative. Together we had a productive meeting with Minister Cox about three subjects, including the Swan Valley Historical Museum and the North West Regional Library.

At the conference, I learned for the first time about the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program. That information was given to council before the election but was not shared with the four newcomers. Under the program, some $1.17 billion is available over 10 years to invest in infrastructure in Manitoba. It was shocking to learn that over $200 million of that money is earmarked for projects that could include a water pipeline in our municipality to serve rural residents. The municipal portion of that money could be less than one-third of the total expense. Sadly, the initial deadline for application is already passed. I had asked a couple of our staff members if we had applied for any project under the program. However, given Mr. Galloway’s rule that the staff should not speak to me, I was unable to find out if we made an application. In case our municipality failed to apply, I asked for and received the assurance from the assistant deputy minister that she would allow us to enter a late application. At some point, if council sees fit to discuss what we should do with our share of over a billion dollars of funds, and may even tell the new members when an application is made, or if was the intention of Mr. Galloway to not apply.

Throughout the conference, and since our return to Swan River, I have been in contact with numerous members of other councils and all of the senior representatives at the AMM. They tell stories about what Mr. Galloway shared about me at the conference. The vast majority of the stories boiled down to being told that I am the sole problem on this council and I stand in the way of Mr. Galloway running an unopposed dictatorship here.

Sadly, that seems to be an accurate description of the issue. I’ve also been told that Mr. Galloway directly blamed our staff for him not attending the meetings with the ministers. I find sharing his views on our staff with the members of three other councils and with a minister of the provincial government being inappropriate.

As one member of council here told me earlier, ‘in time, you will see that it’s best to not question the reeve and do what he wants. That way you don’t get yelled at.’ As I told him then and I will repeat here, ‘Four years simply isn’t long enough for me to learn to do whatever the reeve wants without questions and without concept of law.’

As part of the conference, I attended a session hosted by ‘Pinball’ Clemons. He was extremely on point about the roles of elected officials. According to him, we should represent the voice of the voiceless. We stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. We represent those who fear reprisal of sharing their needs and opinions.

It remains my dream that even though most of council did not attend AMM and didn’t hear the call to action from Mr. Clemons, that they stand up for the voiceless and instead of allowing simply one person to dictate, they will do what the citizens elected them to do.

I end my report with some final items. First, a rough quote from a few years ago from a man speaking to a reeve. “You’re not the head of a kingdom, not even the head of a principality. You’re the head of a municipality. A reeve. Nothing more.” Those words were spoken by Mr. Galloway himself.

Finally, a message shared with me from the new president of the AMM. He asked that our council keep Mr. Galloway in line. Tonight I remind you that that is our job, and the health of our staff and our council and indeed our entire municipality depends on it. That’s my report.

Galloway: If you think, Mr. Gade…

Gade: I’m sorry, point of order.

Galloway: If you think…

Gade: We’re in the middle of committee reports and I have a point of order.

Galloway: You have a point of order. Go ahead.

Gade: You would be out of order to speak here. We need to continue on with committee reports.

Galloway: Okay, I will speak when it is my turn. Believe me. Thank you for your very thorough report.


Galloway: Even though my name is not on here, I normally have the opportunity to speak at this point in time. But after listening to what other people in the Valley have described as a rant on your radio station Mr. Gade, your allegations don’t even deserve a response. They’re that ridiculous.

Gade: Then we should be able to move on.

Galloway: Pardon?

Gade: Then we should be able to move on.

Galloway: The one point I do want to make clear, is that in fact, even though you claimed that I did not meet with a minister, I in fact did. And, the reason I didn’t make the morning meetings is when I checked with staff here at home, I was advised that the government did not notify municipalities, or at least we did not receive notification in this office, until 12 minutes after 4 on Friday. The email was not forwarded to the councillors until 8:21 the following Monday. I had already left my hotel room. You had either received it on your mobile device, which mine does not receive on, or you saw it on a bulletin somewhere. But that is excellent that you were able to attend those meetings.

I attended in tandem with the Town of Swan River, the RM of Minitonas-Bowsman, and the Rural Municipality of Mossey River, and I had about 20 minutes with Minister (Wharton) and one of the points I brought up was the fact that it was very late in the day, the last day prior to the convention that notification was sent out by their administration. He plans on correcting that in future. To suggest that I blame the staff is an absolute out-and-out lie, because never did blame the staff. I explained what the staff told me, the reason for me not receiving that notification for those meetings.

As far as me talking to individuals at the conference about yourself, I have much better things to talk about than you. However, your reputation precedes yourself in almost every individual that I spoke to. It was the laughing stock of the convention. Now you are more and more isolating yourself from this council and from the community. If you want to carry on in that fashion, go for it. I’m not about to try to save you. I’ve worked with other difficult individuals on this council, we’ve come to terms, and we worked well together in the end. I had hoped that the same thing would happen with new council.

I never for one minute got involved with any electoral contests, simply for the reason that nobody knew who would be elected, and I did not want to compromise my ability to work with anyone, because I have worked with a lot of people throughout my lifetime. Now you have a choice to make. You are either going to become a part of the council and not blame and point fingers and belittle and criticize everyone, or you’re going to continue to do it. The choice is yours. And that’s all I have to say.

Gade: Would you like me to respond or not?

Galloway: No. It would be out of order.

Gade: Thank you.

Jeremy Bergen