Freedom Flyer Winter 1988-89 Cover

Freedom Flyer 13

the official newsletter of the
Freedom Party of Ontario

Winter 1988-89

Article electronically reproduced from:

The Mississauga News

June 17, 1988

Clarkson BIA meeting turned into chaos

Staff Reporter

A chaotic meeting of the Clarkson Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tuesday night that featured a litany of insults, putdowns, and personal accusations failed to resolve the issue of confidence in the BIA executive.

After two hours of vituperative rhetoric from the pitched camps involved in the BIA battle, a motion of nonconfidence in the BIA executive was finally placed. But Pat Pleich, the leader of the group critical of the business association, led her supporters out of the steamy church hall at John Knox Christian Church as the vote was being taken because Mayor Hazel McCallion refused to allow a secret ballot for the vote.

"We're going to leave right now, and let the courts deal with this," Pleich said, as about half of the 120 people in attendance began to straggle out.

Before she left, Pleich gave City solicitor Bruce Thom a "gift" in a shoebox. It turned out to be a can of dogfood. Pleich said Thom had described the BIA situation last year as a "dog's breakfast."

"That's a really mature thing to do," a visibly angry Thom snapped in response.

It was only one of a series of bizarre incidents at the meeting. Even before BIA president Ted Biss had called the meeting to order, Pleich was on her feet urging that a vote be called on the use of proxy votes for the evening's proceedings.

"There are rules and regulations and we can remove anyone who heckles the meeting," replied Biss. But despite his warnings, people regularly interrupted speakers throughout the proceedings to loudly voice disagreement with their statements.


Biss said he refused to respond to the lies and innuendos published about the executive's action by Pleich and the Freedom Party. After referring to the "garbage" published by Pleich, Biss added, "but what other material comes from The Barn." Pleich runs The Barn antique store in Clarkson.

Biss' remarks, which drew boos from the part of the crowd, set the tone for the bitterness that was to follow.

McCallion asked to take over the chair for the meeting because she said she was neutral. But when she added that she just wants the BIA to work, there were shouts that she couldn't be neutral in that case.

The mayor appeared startled when Rick New, a critic of the existing BIA, challenged her for the chair of the meeting. But he eventually withdrew and McCallion presided. It wasn't an easy job as shouted interruptions continued to be the order of the day.

At one point, McCallion told one irate man, "Don't get excited, you might have a heart attack, and I'm not a nurse." At another point, she told a man, "If you want to yell, go home and yell at your wife."

When Bill Frampton of the Freedom Party asked to speak, McCallion said, "Are you a member? Well then, sit down." She told a councillor from Cookstown who attempted to speak against the BIA to "Go back to Cookstown if you want to make a speech."

Biss planned to make a vote of confidence in himself and the executive the first order of business of the evening, but the meeting was sidetracked in procedural wrangles. The dissidents lost their fight to use proxy votes at the session, which both McCallion and Thom counselled against, in a 29-24 vote. The proxy issue was tabled for consideration at November's annual meeting.


New then placed a motion of non - confidence in the executive. McCallion prompted more accusations that she was not impartial when she commented that the motion was "bloody unfair." She said the volunteer board has put extraordinary effort into trying to improve Clarkson. "There's such a thing as fairness in life and common sense," she said.

New replied that the judgment on the executive's performance seemed to be something Biss wanted. And he got support from an unusual source, Biss's son, James.

"In the past few months the executive has gone through an awful lot of nonsense and we'd like to clear the air," Biss said. He added in reference to the Freedom Party, which is conducting a province-wide campaign to try to disband BIAS, that "outside forces" have caused a lot of confusion. "Those on the executive have to think seriously if they want to go on. We've got better things to do than to take the harassment."

The dissidents argued that some business people in Clarkson would be intimidated by an open vote on the motion. When businesswoman Pat Melhuish suggested that some people are worried about the consequences of a public vote because it could affect contracts or business, McCallion demanded that she support her "very serious charge." The woman replied that she couldn't do that without revealing confidences.

If the group wants votes by secret ballot, it will have to adopt that regulation at a general meeting, McCallion said. The mayor, like many of the dissidents, said one of the main problems with the BIA is that it has no constitution guiding its procedures. The meeting later appointed six people to serve on a committee to draft a constitution.

When the non - confidence motion was put and the dissident group began leaving, James Biss urged them to stay. "We want you to help us," he said. "It's easy to complain. Join this group and work with us."

One woman who spoke, one of the few people who wasn't aligned with either side, blamed people such as herself who haven't previously taken an interest in the BIA for what has happened. "We haven't been out supporting the BIA so we have stymied the whole thing," she said. "We're not into the issues we should be here about tonight," she said, "we're just into mudslinging."

When the group did get to the actual business on its agenda, it aproved the acquisition of 55 additional planters in the third phase of its $500,000 beautification program. But plans to add 10 more banners, three waste receptacles, more interlocking paving, and install 20 new street signs throughout Clarkson Village were deferred for consideration of a written report.

At the end of the long, hot meeting, McCallion expressed her disappointment at what has happened in Clarkson. She accused the Freedom Party of "cashing in" on the dissatisfaction in the business community. The group had been unsuccessful in encouraging dissent in the Streetsville and Port Credit BIAs. "But all you need is a weak link to grab that situation . . . "she added.

Both Ward 2 councillor Pat Mullin and Mississauga South MPP Margaret Marland praised the efforts of the Biss family. The meeting ended with the small portion of the crowd still remaining offering a standing ovation to Ted Biss.

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