Toronto politician under fire for attending a city Zoom meeting while driving
Toronto City Council meetings can be far more heated, dramatic, and even hilarious than one would expect basic municipal proceedings to be, and this week's was no different, with one member actually kicked out of the Zoom call for taking it while driving.
The bizarre incident began when peers noticed that Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher was actually operating a vehicle during the nine-hour video conference on Thursday evening, including while voting on the City budget and other motions.
"Paula, don't you dare go on the Gardiner," one councillor said jokingly.
"No texting and driving, it's illegal!" another added, quite obviously genuinely bothered by Fletcher's actions.
"Councillor Fletcher, you're driving? And you're voting on your phone?" Council Speaker Frances Nunziata asked.
"I'm not holding the phone, you're looking at me," Fletcher chirped back as a staffer in the passenger seat filmed her. "Look, my hands are on the wheel, my eyes are straight ahead."
The speaker replied, simply, "it's just inappropriate."
Fletcher eventually chose to leave the virtual meeting amid the heckling, after which John Tory defended her, saying that if another person was indeed holding the phone, she wasn't really breaking any laws or meeting rules.
"I regret the fact that Councillor Fletcher felt she had to leave the meeting because people were sort of brow-beating her... I wish that somebody would contact her and tell her she can come back to the meeting as long as there's someone else in the car doing the voting or holding the phone," he said.
"Once you have a remote meeting, are you going to start judging where people are sitting, or whether they're standing or sitting?"
“I’m not holding the phone!” protests Fletcher. Nunziata is very unsure about this, but decides to let it go.— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) February 18, 2021
The whole incident was palpably tense and quite awkward as everyone digressed from the actual issues at hand, with councillor Shelley Carroll aptly speculating at one point, mid-giggle: "I think we know what tomorrow morning's news will be."
Evil Gumball from the City of Toronto Council meeting on Feb. 18
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