Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor Maureen Wilson during a January 2019 meeting. Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

Ward 1 City Councillor Maureen Wilson says she was “alarmed” by the tweets of other members of Hamilton City Council following Council’s illegal investigation of the Chair of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee for his remarks critical of Council.

“When I saw the post, I was quite alarmed by it”, Wilson stated. “I wrote to the Mayor when I got up in the morning and I expressed my alarm. That I deemed it to be a threatening gesture or words, and that I registered my opposition in no uncertain terms”.

“As the Head of Council I asked him to consider, I’d have to find my wording of the ask”, Wilson continued. “When that kind of behaviour is practised, it diminishes the institution of Council and in my opinion the City government as whole. It is not in keeping with how I think elected individuals should serve.”

At this point, the City’s livestream of the meeting ended suddenly following Wilson’s first statement.

LGBTQ Chair Cameron Kroetsch tweeted after the meeting “I’m saddened that the conversation, including @ward1wilson’s comments, were not livestreamed. Councillor Wilson spoke from the heart and demonstrated incredible leadership.”

In an email during the afternoon of October 21, the City claims the stream ended because the VPN connection of the meeting host disconnected.

“It seems the video issues with yesterday’s committee meeting were associated with a VPN connection of the Webex host, which failed approximately one hour into the meeting”, wrote Director of Communications Matthew Grant. “Our IT department is issuing advice to meeting hosts to prevent this from happening in the future (connect direct to Webex so if the VPN has issues the Webex meeting isn’t impacted)”.

The WebEx platform streams directly to YouTube and was stable when the disconnection occurred. The video conference continued, and only the livestream was effected by the VPN error.

The City’s VPN is configured to route all user traffic via the VPN. Some large organizations use a split tunnel approach to their VPN in which web traffic that does not require internally security does not flow through the VPN service.

The sudden end to the stream comes only weeks after Hamilton City Hall destroyed videos of Advisory Committees meetings early in September. The destruction began following a September 1, 2020 meeting of the Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee during which members of the committee expressed differing opinions regarding the City’s handling of homelessness encampments. The Public Record filed a Freedom of Information request for the videos. The City has denied the request, with Deputy City Clerk Janet Pilon writing the City destroyed all video records of these meetings.

Today’s meeting of the Hamilton LGBTQ Advisory Committee was the first since the September 30, Council vote to reprimand LGBTQ Chair Cameron Kroetsch under Section 223 of the Municipal Act.

Council claims he violated privacy laws by posting a motion of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee which included the name of a public appointee to the Hamilton Police Service Board. (The City did not inform Ontario’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of the alleged breach. The motion was critical of Council)

Following the Council vote to reprimand Kroetsch, Ward 14 City Councillor Terry Whitehead took to Twitter in a tirade against community members. Whitehead was upset the Executive Director of Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion Kojo Dempsey shared a 2013 video of Whitehead raising concerns about the cost of the Hamilton Police Budget. Whitehead tweeted “Curious does HCCI fall under the integrity commision just asking”.

To police whistleblower Paul Manning, Whitehead tweeted “We are just beginning to understand that the integrity commissioner and independent body now has the ability to look investigate beyond council. it would be prudent to determine if you fall under expanded role”.

The Public Record filed a closed meeting complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman regarding the livestream ending during the meeting.

Production Details
v. 1.0.0
First published: October 20, 2020
Last edited: October 21, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman
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v. 1.0.0 original version
v. 1.1.0 updated with explanation from the City of Hamilton stating a VPN disconnected caused the livestream to end.