Video – Cobourg Council – Apology Refused at Council

In City Hall, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Missy McLean appeared before Cobourg council’s April meeting to demand an apology from three of its members – a demand that was met with dead silence.

The registered social worker and director of Ontario Moms Stop the Harm had been disturbed by discussions of changes to the town’s grants policy at council’s April 2 Strategic Priorities and Policy standing committee, when Mayor Lucas Cleveland made the motion that, at no point in this term of council, would grants be given to her organization or to Green Wood Coalition.

As an aside, McLean said, Moms Stop the Harm did not request a grant at all.

And she was further upset by Councillor Miriam Mutton’s comment that the group’s ideology and activities hurt people.

“In light of these comments, I felt it was vital to come before council and introduce Moms Stop The Harm,” McLean said.

This national organization was begun by families of loved ones struggling with substance abuse and its related harms and deaths. They advocate for change to failed drug policies, provide peer support to grieving families, and assist those with loved ones who still struggle with the problem.

Begun in 2016, it is now a nationwide organization that strives to educate, advocate and support. They call for evidence-based prevention treatment and policy change, wide access to harm reduction, upstream prevention, a safer regulated supply and decriminalization of people who use drugs.

On Dec. 14, 2020, she pointed out, Cobourg council unanimously supported her group’s municipal resolution on the overdose crisis.

In 2021, they organized two groups – the peer-support group Holding Hope Northumberland and the peer-support grieving circle Healing Hearts Northumberland. They participate with such partner agencies as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Green Wood Coalition and the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit in annual observances of International Overdose Awareness Day. And each Christmas, their white Healing Hearts Memorial Tree is set up Victoria Hall with ornaments to commemorate loved ones lost.
McLean had two things to ask.

She wanted a public explanation from the mayor why he targeted the group at the meeting.

She also asked for a public apology from the mayor and Councillor Mutton for their remarks, and also from Councillor Brian Darling, who voted in support of Cleveland’s motion (which was ultimately defeated).

No councillor raised a hand to pose a question of clarification or make a comment.

“Thank you for coming here tonight and giving us a chance to understand what Moms Stop the Harm do,” the mayor said.

Having taken time on his own to review the organization, he noted the requirement for advocates and directors to conduct themselves with integrity and respect while in their public roles.

“You are the regional director of Moms Stop The Harm – is the national board aware and do they condone your actions as an individual in this community to set up and run an illegal, unsanctioned consumption site?” Cleveland asked.

McLean said her fellow board members are aware of what she termed her “grass-roots work to save lives.

“I absolutely stand by my actions of showing care, of taking care of the most marginalized members of this community by providing individual support to those members.”

She asked when she might expect a response to her two requests.

“That would be up to this council to decide, and this council is choosing not to make that decision,” Cleveland replied.

McLean’s comments were not referenced in any way as council confirmed the standing committee’s recommendation to restructure the grant process for 2025 to shift the actual decision making to a third party.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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