It's certainly a first for the City of Moose Jaw and our City Solicitor thinks it could be a first in the province. About a week ago, an online petition was started to try and force the resignation of Councillor Brian Swanson. He was one of three councillors sanctioned for their actions in the Downtown Facility and Fieldhouse scandal that saw numerous complaints filed, then ignored by the board.
Jody Chell started the petition and works with harassment in her profession. The fact Swanson took confidential files home is enough reason that he should be removed due to his "egregious errors reportedly committed by Councillor Swanson as Chair of the Moose Jaw Downtown Facility and Field House."
However, City Solicitor Myron Gulka-Tiechko says a petition can't force a city councillor to resign.
"Generally, what the petition provisions of the City's Act provide is that if there's a 10% uptake on a petition then they can force a referendum to have a vote on a bylaw but I don't believe that we've ever had a situation in the province where a referendum has been called to remove a member of council."
While it's not unheard of for a councillor to be removed from their position, Gulka-Tiechko says there are some very strict guidelines. "If there was, for example, a conviction on a criminal offence or a finding that the member wasn't qualified to have sat in the first place."
"It's a fairly lengthy process and there would have to be evidence provided and potentially a hearing before a judge to determine whether there was grounds to have someone removed."
Hundreds of people have signed the petition on Change.org in the last week with Chell hoping to receive 2000 supporters by Monday, October 15th. Councillor Swanson has declined to comment.