toronto city council

Toronto staffer forgets to mute Zoom and swears at councillor during meeting

A Toronto City Council meeting went completely off the rails Wednesday evening when, after nearly 11 hours of exhausting deliberating and debating, a city staffer accidentally forgot to mute himself and swore at a city councillor. 

The flub took place around 8:15 p.m. when speaker Frances Nunziata announced that the meeting would continue for 45 more minutes before the rest of the agenda would be deferred to April. 

Councillor Paula Fletcher then asked Nunziata why the agenda would be deferred to next month, to which she responded that they wanted to end by 9 p.m. — but a city staffer who clearly didn't know he was unmuted responded by cursing before she could even finish her sentence. 

"Because you fucking can't get your shit done," the staffer said loudly on the Zoom call for all to hear. 

Nunziata initially tried to ignore the comment, but a number of people in the meeting quickly demanded to know who said it. 

While the speaker thought it was Paul Ainslie who had the slip-up and demanded an apology from the Scarborough councillor, the true culprit quickly and admirably spoke up.

Carleton Grant, the city's executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, admitted that it was he who made the inappropriate hot mic comment. 

"It's Carleton here," he said. "It was my mistake, I apologize."

Though Nunziata initially reacted with shock and "ooooh" sounds could be heard in the background, several other councillors responded saying they accepted the apology and Mayor John Tory urged the speaker to move on. 

But just moments later, the meeting again took a detour when Ainslie and Fletcher engaged in a short discussion about salad.

"I think everybody is getting really tired and very silly at this point," Nunziata said in response.

While Grant's comment was certainly uncalled for and undeniably inappropriate, the frustration expressed by councillors and staffers at last night's meeting can easily be seen as a reflection of how Toronto residents are feeling today — on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization's declaration of a global pandemic.

Lead photo by

Franklin McKay

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