CARBONEAR, NL — An RCMP investigation into the actions of a Carbonear resident during a recent council meeting has garnered significant attention on social media.
Gerard Butt took to Facebook about a week after a regular council meeting held in Carbonear on Tuesday, Jan. 9 to express his disappointment after receiving a phone call from the local RCMP detachment. In his post, he stated the Harbour Grace RCMP told him they had received a call from the six remaining councillors in Carbonear, requesting he be charged with mischief.
“Just when I thought that the Town Councillors in Carbonear couldn’t stoop any lower, today I received a call from the RCMP detachment in Harbour Grace informing me that they had received a request from the 6 councillors to charge me with mischief, following last week’s PUBLIC council meeting,” Butt said in the post, dated Wednesday, Jan. 17. “How low can you go, Chris, Ray, Vic, Danielle, Dave, and Amanda?”
Cpl. Steve Burke of the Harbour Grace RCMP detachment, who is in charge of the general investigation section, confirmed to The Compass Thursday morning that the detachment did receive a call from the town regarding the incident, and subsequently carried out an investigation, but ultimately, no charges were laid.
Gerard Butt, the brother of former Carbonear mayor Frank Butt, declined The Compass’ request for further comment on the matter when approached outside a courtroom at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Frank Butt's case against the town over his removal last month from the mayor's chair was in court Thursday morning. Family and friends accompanied the former mayor Thursday in St. John's.
Chris O’Grady, Deputy Mayor and acting Mayor for the Town of Carbonear, said Gerard Butt was acting in a disruptive manner, speaking during the meeting, and asking questions when he was not permitted. O’Grady requested Butt to remain silent on multiple occasions, and explained that if the actions continued, he would be asked to leave.
“(Butt) interrupted our meeting several times. The meeting is a council meeting, and people from the gallery are not permitted to speak with the councillors while the meeting is going ahead,” explained O’Grady. “He kept standing, interrupting, and asking questions while I was speaking, and I told him ‘No, you have no standing here, you can’t speak.’ I had to warn him several times, and finally I asked him to leave. When he asked who was going to remove him, I said, well, the RCMP, if we call them.”
However, O’Grady also noted that, while council made a call to RCMP the following day, the intent was not to see any charges laid, but instead to ensure that, if it was required in the future, council could rely on RCMP to remove disruptive attendees from council meetings.
“We called and asked, to be sure, that if we needed them to come and remove someone, that they could do it, and they said absolutely they could. They then asked what happened, and they were given a statement about it,” O’Grady explained. “They said they may or may not speak to Mr. Butt and explain this to him as well, and that’s all we knew, until yesterday when we heard all this from Facebook.”
O’Grady went on to explain that the initial inquiry to RCMP was more to reassure council that if further action is necessary in the future, then RCMP would provide that assistance.
“If this continues, we might have to just clear the galleries altogether, which we really don’t want to do because there are lots of people there that are actually interested in the proceedings, or people waiting for permits and things,” he said. “But if someone is going to continuously disrupt, they’re going to have to leave. He did leave eventually, but not until there were numerous interruptions.”
The next regular council meeting in Carbonear is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 23.