Nanaimo Coun. Gord Fuller is expressing regret for directing crude comments such as “bite me” at Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, explaining that frustration got the best of him.
He said he became upset after a one-item agenda at a special council meeting this week expanded at the last minute. He was on a tight schedule and was concerned about whether he could stay for the main item, Fuller said.
That main item was the “time-sensitive” issue of the firing of Nanaimo Economic Development Corp. chief executive John Hankins, Fuller said. But time was spent on other things, such as whether to talk about the number of jail guards working at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment, he said.
That issue will be back before council Nov. 7.
“I lost patience,” Fuller said. “I’m not happy that I did that, but this is a typical tactic, to stall things.”
A video of the meeting shows Fuller walking up to McKay at the table, then loudly having his say. Fuller said he has apologized for his language to members of city staff, who were pulled from the meeting by chief administrative officer Tracy Samra because of what he said.
Some councillors also left, which brought the session to a close.
There will be no apology extended to McKay, Fuller said. “I won’t,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes.”
Asked about his response to Fuller saying “bite me,” McKay said: “I understand that was after he called me a ‘s---head.’ ”
He acknowledged that he and some councillors have their differences, but said the talk he heard was unnecessary.
“I want to put the call out to anybody and everybody who is on a board to leave your junk at the door,” McKay said. “Get in there and do your business. You don’t have to like everybody in that room but please, please, please be respectful.”
McKay said he will continue to demand decorum at meetings.
“If they can’t conduct themselves in a professional and businesslike manner, I will do as I did [Wednesday] and ask them to leave, or demand that they leave the meeting.”
Nanaimo council has been in the news throughout 2016 due to discord. In May, Samra read a statement outlining what she saw as efforts by McKay and Coun. Diane Brennan to make her quit.
Samra also called for McKay to put aside any differences and continue the city’s work.
McKay responded by calling the statement “one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.”
That was preceded in April by seven of eight councillors — excluding only Brennan — releasing a statement calling for McKay’s resignation. Jim Kipp, Bill Bestwick, Jerry Hong, Wendy Pratt, Ian Thorpe, Bill Yoachim and Fuller cited McKay’s attendance and his treatment of Samra.