© Geraldine Brophy
Corner Brook Coun. Mary Ann Murphy reads a motion at the Monday, Oct. 7 council meeting.
CORNER BROOK — Linda Chaisson was feeling a little bit of vindication Monday evening.
It’s been more than three years since the Corner Brook councillor took a stand against council giving itself a raise. At the first public meeting of council, her proposal to freeze council’s wage rate for the duration of their term was passed unanimously. It was not even debated.
Her opposition to a raise during the first year of the previous council’s term was not supported by the council of the day. The raise was approved, with only Chaisson and former councillor Priscilla Boutcher voting against it. The approval was given, despite a petition and public protest by residents.
Chaisson next tried to prevent herself from receiving the raise, even filing a letter to decline it. That was a violation of the remuneration and reimbursement regulation.
During the election campaign, the only incumbent to get re-elected said she would propose the wage freeze immediately, if elected. During the swearing-in ceremony, she kept her word. Monday night, the ammendment to the regulation was passed.
“As a councillor, number one, I didn’t feel it was right to do,” Chaisson said following the meeting. “Number two, I had to listen to the people. I feel, for four years, I have been carrying that torch. I finally got it through tonight.”
The pay raise was one of the points remembered by people throughout the city during a tumultuous term by the former council. Former mayor Neville Greeley did not seek re-election, while former councillor Donna Francis lost the mayor’s race to new Mayor Charles Pender. The other four incumbents seeking re-election were unsuccessful.
Chaisson was not being recognized as a voice of the people by all residents Monday evening — mainly by two of those former councillors, Gary Kelly and Donna Luther. Both took to Twitter with comments.
“Let’s hope those that never wanted a salary increase ask for a roll back and not just a salary freeze,” Kelly tweeted.
“Funny how @LindaChaisson never wanted a salary increase for four years and now wants the raise and happy with a freeze,” he tweeted following the approval.
“If so many were opposed to the raise and new members are all about change, where was the opposition to the raise?,” Kelly also tweeted.
Luther posted similar comments as Kelly, but also referenced the criticism that council took because of the raise.
“We took quit(e) the beating over that and she came out with best of both worlds,” Luther tweeted, referring to Chaisson.
“But several of these councillors were vocal against us when we voted for it. We took the shit for it,” she also tweeted.
Chaisson said she was focused on putting in a wage freeze, not having the raise rolled back now.
“My thought was to not let it go any further,” she said. “Let’s keep it as it is today, and have us not get the management two per cent for the next four years. So, that is eight per cent that we will not be taking.”