Following pay suspension, rural township’s mayor says he’s now suspending himself

The mayor of a township west of Ottawa whose pay was suspended for aggressive and abusive behaviour late last year says he’s now suspending himself from activities related to his job.At the same time, Mark MacKenzie, who was elected mayor of the Township of McNab/Braeside in 2022, insists he hasn’t resigned and may decide to resume his duties.”I may revoke this self-imposed suspension at any time and will inform you should that be the case,” he wrote to township officials earlier this month.It’s a curious situation that leaves the township operating in a state of political uncertainty.”It is unfair to our constituents but there is nothing Council can do about it at this time according to the rules we follow,” Deputy Mayor Lori Hoddinott wrote in an email to CBC News.At his farm, McNab/Braeside Coun. Kevin Rosien said he sees no clear path forward for the township. (Stu Mills/CBC)Threatened and intimidated colleaguesIn December, the township’s council voted to suspend MacKenzie’s pay for 60 days after a scathing report by integrity commissioner Tony Fleming found he had threatened and intimidated both staff and council colleagues.Fleming also found the mayor had dishonestly tried to make staff and council look incompetent, and the township’s financial situation look worse than it was That suspension has ended and MacKenzie is back on the payroll, but two weeks ago he announced his “self-imposed suspension.” “I am no longer comfortable being the front face (technically) of the Township,” MacKenzie wrote.MacKenzie appeared virtually during a planning meeting last week despite his self-imposed suspension. (Stu Mills/CBC)In an interview at his home, MacKenzie told CBC he continues to disagree with how the township is managing its finances, including the accounting around a new administrative building. On Tuesday, council is scheduled to vote on MacKenzie’s motion calling for an audit of the township’s finances.MacKenzie calls the vote a “sort of last chance” before he makes his grievances public in a blog post, and he disagreed that his “self-suspension” has left the township and its residents in limbo.”It’s no different than a mayor going on vacation or something. There are processes in place that the township carries on,” he said.Residents divided on mayor’s moveThe lone ratepayer to attend a township planning meeting in person last week said he sympathized with MacKenzie, and said the mayor should have greater power to direct council.”I think his back is to the wall,” Henry Pawlak told CBC.MacKenzie attended the meeting virtually, the only council member to do so. Coun. Kevin Rosien said he’d like to see the mayor continue to participate in person.”I’d like to see him back at the table and working with the team, together,” Rosien said.In February, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra said he expected to introduce a bill that would toughen penalties for municipal politicians who misbehave.But earlier this month, Calandra said the bill would not be ready before the provincial legislature breaks for summer. A resident of McNabb/Braeside for some 35 years, Christine Lacasse fears the current political situation has left the township with no leadership. (Stu Mills/CBC)For longtime McNabb/Braeside resident Christine Lacasse, the impasse leaves the township stuck in neutral.”As far as I’m concerned, it means that we’re going nowhere,” she said from her home near the township offices. “[MacKenzie] either has to come back and do his job, or they have to take some action.”According to the 2021 census, McNab/Braeside, which sits on the Ottawa River just west of Arnprior, Ont., has a population of about 7,600.

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