Acknowledgment of the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada should be included in the municipal oath of office, Peterborough County council decided at its Wednesday meeting.

But a suggestion that allegiance to King Charles be removed from the oath, made by Joe Taylor, mayor of Otonabee-South Monaghan Township, was not approved.

Instead, council asked for a staff report on the idea.

A motion from the Municipality of Trent Lakes came before council asking Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark to change the oath to the following:

“I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.”

The proposed amendment would acknowledge Indigenous rights when new municipal councillors are sworn into office.

“This was brought forward by a member of our council who has been very involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action,” said Trent Lakes Deputy Mayor Carol Armstrong.

“He brought it forward as a response to one of those Calls to Action and has suggested that we write a letter to (Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark) requesting that we include in the oath of office for municipal councillors an acknowledgment of our Metis, Inuit and First Nations people,” she said.

“I think it’s a great idea. It’s overdue. I can’t imagine that there would be a lot of opposition,” said Taylor, “but, at the risk of being controversial, I would like to take it one step further.”

“I would like to add recognition of First Nations’ rights in our oath of office and I would like to remove any allegiance to King Charles. I don’t know whether there’s a lot of support for that around the table, but I don’t feel that we need to bear allegiance to Charles III any longer,” he said.

“I would like the suggestion to be taken more seriously.”

He later told The Examiner that the allegiance no longer has any bearing on councillors’ duties as elected representatives.

Taylor said he is not a “royal watcher” and, “It’s hypocritical of me to stand up there and bear allegiance to King Charles when I think it has nothing to do with why I am an elected official and what my responsibilities are.”

He also thinks each municipality should be able to choose what is recited in its oath of office.

“I hope they (MMAH) take a look at it and either remove the oath of allegiance to King Charles or at least allow municipalities to have the option,” he said.

Sheridan Graham, chief administrative officer for the county, said she would prefer a staff report be prepared on Taylor’s idea to investigate its possibility. There was no discussion by other councillors.

“It’s not the first time that this has been proposed across the province,” said Taylor, “and I would like the suggestion to be taken more seriously.”

Council voted to approve the Trent Lakes motion that Indigenous people’s rights be acknowledged in the oath of office. It then asked for a staff report on Taylor’s proposed amendment to remove the mention of King Charles in it.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

By Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 16, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Peterborough Examiner   Peterborough, Ontario
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