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'I'm the parent of that child': Regina city councillor says colleague was out of line for suggesting he remove his child from meeting

A Regina city councillor said he was shocked after another member suggested he remove his two-year-old daughter from an especially tense council meeting.

Ward 2 Coun. Dan Leblanc attended council’s Sept. 13 meeting while caring for his two-year-old daughter – bringing the child to his seat on council.

“My daughter’s daycare closes at 5:30 p.m. We have two children, a baby and a toddler and simply bedtimes don’t line up,” LeBlanc explained. “So it’s not feasible for my wife to put the baby to sleep while the toddler is at home.”

Partway through the evening’s debate – Coun. Bob Hawkins addressed council – requesting that Leblanc remove the child from what he called a “council circus.”

“In general terms, it’s not appropriate for a young child, a toddler to be on the debating floor of council,” Hawkins told CTV News on Tuesday.

“I think it’s not fair to the toddler. That was a fairly vigorous meeting. There was shouts out from the crowd, some words that I wouldn’t use on television being spoken.”

The council meeting was marred by frequent interruptions — as members of the gallery expressed frustrations with the debate on the motion to declare a “houselessness crisis” in Regina.

“There’s blood on your hands,” one member of the gallery shouted while being escorted out during the debate.

LeBlanc said he was surprised by Hawkins’ suggestion – seeing as this was not the first time his daughter attended.

“It was really shocking actually,” he explained. “I’ve been bringing my daughter to council meetings that go after five o’clock, certainly since this new baby of ours was born six months ago and nothing was raised in the past.”

In response to Hawkins concerns over his child’s wellbeing – LeBlanc was clear.

“I’m the parent of that child and Coun. Hawkins can stay out of my way as I do that,” he said. “I have no concerns with my child being exposed to people who are passionate about standing with vulnerable neighbours even if they do so in ways that offend Coun. Hawkins.”

Hawkins explained that his issue with the child’s presence wasn’t just for her sake – but also everyone else’s.

“I know of no other elected body such as a legislature or a parliament where toddlers are sitting on the debating floor,” he said.

“It’s not fair to the councillors who are trying to concentrate and do the public’s business. And I don’t feel that the public thinks it’s appropriate that a very young child be on the floor of council during a debate.”

“It’s not that difficult to find child care in a temporary situation and also the ability to participate by Zoom should resolve this problem completely,” he added.

In 2019 – the Saskatchewan Legislature passed a bipartisan motion to no longer regard infants as “strangers” on the assembly floor – in an effort to make the seat of Saskatchewan’s government more baby friendly.

LeBlanc referenced the province’s move – saying Hawkins’ comments weren’t valid.

“My view is that if people of all political stripes can do that on the provincial level – really Coun. Hawkins suggestion is outside the range of normal concerns and normal political discourse in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Going forward, LeBlanc hopes the issue won’t become a larger distraction at city council – and won’t warrant further discussion and a change in the procedure bylaw.

“I’m hopeful it doesn’t come to that and Coun. Hawkins comes to his senses,” he said.

“If it does come to that then that’s going to be a further example of us wasting energy and political time and other precious resources on bickering and responding to these absurd procedure motions of what is frankly, a grump on council and that is a profound waste of time and below our station.”

In her response to Hawkins on Sept. 13, Mayor Sandra Masters said that council would “advance the matter further into the procedure bylaws” going into this year’s fall session. Top Stories


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