An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger
LET’S SET the record straight about that conversation around the City council table last week with respect to Coun. Marg Spina’s announcement that she intends to resign at the end of June.
Spina’s revelation that her cancer is incurable was a shock to everyone, and her fellow councillors wish her nothing but the best. Dealing with her ill health must, of course, be the priority.
If she must resign to do that, causing a by-election, so be it.
Councillors Tina Lange, Denis Walsh and Dieter Dudy expressed the hope that she would be able to carry on without resigning just yet. But it had nothing at all to do with any disregard for Spina’s health or with putting the issue of a by-election first.
On a number of occasions over the past several months, I’ve had personal conversations with a couple of those councillors about Spina’s health — it’s what concerned colleagues do. I can assure you that they have been as concerned for her well-being as anyone else, and want only what’s best for her.
If you watch and listen to the video of the meeting, or if you watched it live as I did, there’s no doubt of this. Lange said she was “heart-broken” at the news. When she said she hoped Spina could continue longer, she wasn’t saying that Spina should put the job before her health. It was, in part, a wish for her to be well and, in part, a simple suggestion that instead of resigning she continue her leave of absence.
If she remains on leave until Jan. 1, there would be no need for a by-election. Spina would not want to cost the taxpayers money by accepting a paycheque while she’s on leave, and there’s no need to — councillors are allowed to take unpaid leaves of absence for medical reasons.
Spina has made it clear she can’t carry on in an active role but, instead of resigning at the end of June, she could wait until Jan. 1, remaining on leave until then. However, she says she thinks council needs a full slate to function effectively.
In the end, of course, it’s Marg Spina’s decision as to which course she takes, and whether she confirms an early resignation and thus a by-election, or continues her leave, she will have the best wishes, and the gratitude, of the entire city.