News Brief

Brampton councillor backs off controversial media motion

Gael Miles admits her motion was “a knee-jerk reaction” to press coverage

After hearing deputations and going through an in camera discussion at Wednesday’s Brampton, Ontario, city council meeting, regional councillor Gael Miles (Wards 7 and 8) rescinded her controversial media motion.

Miles’s motion, first proposed at a May 31st meeting, would have required all email communications between journalists and city officials to be publicly posted on the city website. It would also have carved out a section on all future meeting agendas for members of council to respond to media coverage. Critics had called it Trump-like and argued that it was intended to put a chill on contact between the press and elected officials.

Eloa Doner from the Etobicoke Creek Residents Association was the first to speak on the motion at Wednesday’s meeting. She pointed pointed to the negative attention that Brampton was receiving outside of the city as a result and called the motion “unnecessary.”

“If Toronto, Ottawa, and other cities in Ontario don’t need to have the provisions from the motion before you, why does Brampton?”

After Doner’s statements, Miles indicated that her support for her own motion was wavering, telling Doner, “I agree with everything you said, I don’t disagree.”

Miles continued: “Perhaps my motion was a knee-jerk reaction, but it was a knee-jerk reaction to months and months of reporting that I felt was inaccurate and misleading to to the public.”

Radha Tailor, the associate editor for Bramptonist, was the second speaker, and called the motion “a poor attempt to control the narrative.”

Miles conceded to Tailor’s arguments and noted that unlike the mayor, councillors do not have press secretaries to handle media requests.

“Maybe the motion isn’t the way to go. But you know what, we need help. We absolutely need help,” said Miles, who was first elected in 1988. “We absolutely need help in knowing how to deal with the media, and we don’t have that.”

Miles’s proposal came in the midst of recent stories in the Brampton Guardian regarding her support for the purchase of a “money-losing” golf course and $1.25 million in secretive staff bonuses, many of which were paid out during her tenure as budget chair.

The meeting moved in camera for two hours to discuss the motion — as well as a police investigation into the $1.25 million in staff payouts — and Miles ultimately rescinded it.

Screencap from Miles’s “Beautiful City of Brampton” 2014 campaign video.

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