Regina city council removes Dan LeBlanc from community safety board
Following a tense meeting with heated debate, Regina City Council voted to remove Ward 6 Coun. Dan LeBlanc from his position on the board of community safety and well being.
Only two councillors, including LeBlanc himself, voted against the motion presented by Mayor Sandra Masters to remove him.
“I figured that was the way it would go,” LeBlanc said after Wednesday’s meeting.
Mayor Sandra Masters, along with Coun. Hawkins, Bresciani, Findura, Mancinelli, Nelson, Stadnichuk and Mohl all voted in favour to remove LeBlanc, while Coun. Stevens was the only other councillor to support him.
Ward 8 Coun. Shanon Zachidniak was not present at the meeting.
“That’s about the way it was in December,” LeBlanc said.
The motion was one of the first brought forward by Mayor Masters in the new year.
On Wednesday, multiple community members came to Henry Baker Hall with a chorus of support for LeBlanc.
“It’s critical for the board to have [him],” resident Carl Cherland said. “He is uniquely qualified to serve on the board. His efforts since being on council have clearly shown his care and focus on social justice and environmental issues.”
“Coun. LeBlanc was the first city councillor to immediately reach out to our organization to hear our concerns after attaining elected office,” Regina Anti-poverty Ministry advocate Peter Gilmer said. “We believe it is important there be representation from either Wards 3 or 6 on committees dealing with community wellness.”
“He also has the ability to empower people to work for positive social change to make our city a better place for everyone,” Florence Stratton said.
LeBlanc said when the motion initially came forward, he had plans to voluntarily resign from the board.
“But community members told me it wasn’t about me, it was about [them],” he said. “It’s about pushing back against people who dared come into the council chambers in December.”
“I was heartened to see people come support and speak in favour of community representation.”
It was not enough.
“The word that keeps coming forward to me is trust,” Coun. Lori Bresciani said. “We all have our beliefs and we all care about the most vulnerable, but it’s how we work together as a council.”
“How dare any delegate or anybody in Regina question any of our authority, any of our giving, loving and kindness towards people,” Coun. Terina Nelson said. “For anybody to say only one person on this council is good enough to serve on this committee, shame on you.”
“Councillor LeBlanc is a good man,” Coun. Bob Hawkins said. “[However] he is not the right man to represent this council.”
Coun. Stevens asked Hawkins if the court proceedings in December were the reason he wanted LeBlanc off the board.
“The court action was a material change of circumstances that had to be considered,” Hawkins said. “This motion was a directive in achieving that goal.”
Stevens went on to ask the mayor if she thought it was because LeBlanc was not committed enough to make the change the board aims to achieve.
“Not at all,” Masters said.
Stevens then asked Masters if there was any voice in the vulnerable populations who had come forward with evidence LeBlanc could not represent the issues of the board.
“Yes,” she said.
“Would you be prepared to share those with council?” Stevens asked. “I haven’t seen them.”
“Not even a little bit,” Masters responded. “Part of the reason you didn’t see anyone here supporting today is because the actual public feedback myself and some of the other councillors have is outreach from individuals feeling bad for [us] about what happened at budget time.”
Stevens said public outrage is normal in their line of work.
“We all get hate,” he said. “I see nothing convincing me we should pursue this and essentially purge and punish a councillor being committed to the issues embedded within this strategy.”
Ward 1 Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk said she originally voted LeBlanc to the board because she thought he would be an asset.
“I do have a really strong concern after the events in December,” she said. “I would like to know what he will do to repair [our trust]. I would like to give [him] a second chance but there needs to be some trust building.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BOARD?
The board featured a member of council, other community volunteers and City Manager Niki Anderson
“It’s important to have administrative senior leadership in those discussions,” Anderson said.
However, the board is still without an executive director.
Chief of staff to the city manager Ly Pham said hiring one is the committee’s top priority and has paused all work in the community action tables.
“With what has happened in our community, there was some fear there was a shift in expectations of what they were supposed to do,” she said. “Administration also acknowledged it is very difficult to be able to provide guidance and direction if the organization is not clear on how we actually drive that forward.”
Masters said the removal will create a safer space for discussion for the board.
“What you saw from council today was an agreement that there’s a need for both a safe space for the board of volunteers, for Niki and an individual who actually represents the voice of council,” she said.
Now removed from his position on the community safety board, Coun. LeBlanc has concerns.
“I suspect [my replacement] will not be councillor Stevens,” he said. “Heritage and North Central will not have a seat at the table where they need to be.”
Stevens said to achieve the goals of the board, council may not always act proper.
“It may mean stepping on toes,” he said. “We talk around ourselves about credibility and trust but what really matters, is addictions, domestic violence and food insecurity. We can not get along so long as we’re producing outcomes for those individuals,” he said.
Council will vote on who will replace LeBlanc at its next meeting on Feb. 22.
“We’re going to have someone on the committee who doesn’t represent Heritage or North Central. That’s a big red flag,” LeBlanc said. “From a credibility perspective, we are very likely to have someone on that board who voted against addressing houselessness on a housing-first model.”
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