THUNDER BAY – Editorial – This is an example of how there are times that the Internet can be like an old western movie where a group of residents form a posse and ride out to serve their own justice on someone. In the comments section of another Thunder Bay news site, as well as on Facebook, the unofficial “Mayor of Westfort” Councillor Joe Virdiramo has being called down over accusations that his address on Grey Street in Thunder Bay is no longer his primary residence, and that the City Councillor has moved to Shuniah.
The issues raised included that somehow the Councillor, who sits as Chair of the Thunder Bay Police Commission and as Westfort Councillor is somehow doing something wrong.
There is only one thing wrong with those accusations, they are inaccuate. Councillor Virdiramo is not doing anything wrong.
There is legislation that covers the situation, The Ontario Municipal Act states:
(2) A member of council of a municipality is disqualified from holding office if, at any time during the term of office of that member, he or she,
(a) ceases to be a Canadian citizen;
(b) is not a resident, the owner or tenant of land or the spouse of an owner or tenant of land in the municipality, in the case of a member of council of a local municipality, or in a lower-tier municipality within the upper-tier municipality, in the case of a member of council of an upper-tier municipality; or
(c) would be prohibited under this or any other Act from voting in an election for the office of member of council of the municipality if an election was held at that time. 2001, c. 25, s. 258 (2); 2005, c. 5, s. 44 (3).
As long as a member of council is either the owner, or tenant of land, they are eligible to serve as a representative on council. In Thunder Bay to run as a ward councillor, the candidate or their spouse must own property in the ward, or the candidate must reside in the ward.
Westfort Councillor Virdiramo in owning property in the Westfort ward is meeting that qualification.
Another poster comments that the Councillor states he has a camp in Shuniah. Honestly, imagine that, a person in Thunder Bay has a camp?
If that were a disqualification for municipal office in Thunder Bay, then the potential candidate’s for municipal office automatically disqualify a lot of people.
The fact of the matter is that Councillor Virdiramo is completely within the law, and within his rights to own property in Shuniah. Mr. Virdiramo also has some long-standing ties to the federal riding of Thunder Bay Superior North. Mr. Virdiramo worked for the Superior Greenstone District School Board as Director of Education and Secretary from 1998 – 2000 in Marathon. He was also employed by the Nipigon-Red Rock Board of Education as Director of Education and Secretary from 1989 – 1998. As well, Virdiramo worked for Joe Comuzzi the former federal MP, and he has also sought the federal Liberal nomination in Thunder Bay Superior North.
Since 2003, Councillor Virdiramo has served on Thunder Bay City Council as the Westfort Ward Councillor.
During the last municipal election, in his vision for the community, Virdiramo stated, “My vision for the community is very simple. I want this community to flourish economically, socially, to be a self-sustaining community where people live in a safe environment. We must strive to provide opportunities for all, no matter the social economic background, ethnic origin, or religious affiliation. I see Thunder Bay as the city of choice where people want to live. I see a Thunder Bay where poverty at all levels is non-existent, where everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table.”
As well, when he ran for re-election in Westfort his campaign motto was ” A proven leader for the future of Westfort and the City of Thunder Bay.”
Virdiramo has come under fire for having a second home in Shuniah, however the reality is that Councillor Virdiramo is completely entitled to do that.
Perhaps however it could be an example of how the Internet can raise issues, and how comments on websites can generate issues which are not as accurate as they could be. In this case the name of a city councillor has been allowed to be dragged through the mud, and that is not really fair. What do you think?
Chief Content Officer