Original Published on Jul 11, 2022 at 14:04

By Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

When it comes to a dress code during council meetings, Chatham-Kent’s Mayor expects a certain standard.

As the Sarnia council recently battled over a dress code, Mayor Darrin Canniff said he’s never heard of a dress code at council meetings in Chatham-Kent – because there isn’t one.

Meanwhile, in Sarnia, Councillor Bill Dennis recently sought to have that council adopt a dress code, which resulted in colourful debate.

In response, Councillor Nathan Colquhoun wore a fedora and tank top on June 27 during the debate of a motion calling for the adoption of a ‘professional business attire’ policy for council meetings. He said he didn’t see how clothing determines if an individual is respectful or not.

Dennis’s attempt for the council to adopt a policy around dressing for meetings resulted in a failed motion.

Canniff said he’s never heard a single complaint about how council dresses in Chatham-Kent. However, while admitting it’s personal taste, he expects there to be a minimum level of professionalism.

“You’re not going to come in shorts and a T-shirt to a council meeting,” said Canniff.

The Mayor said each and every politician is making a statement by what they’re wearing.

“But certainly, if there were a situation where someone was coming in shorts and a T-shirt, you would quietly want to talk to the person and say we need a little higher standard,” he said. “But that’s just never happened.”

He added if the issue of a dress code was ever brought up in Chatham-Kent council chambers, he anticipated a healthy debate.

Canniff said while at council meetings, he’s always worn a suit and tie but noted that’s how he chooses to dress.

“There’s never been a need for a dress code. People respect the council chambers and dress accordingly. No one shows up in ripped jeans,” he said.

As for how others dress, Canniff said he doesn’t expect everyone to also be in suits.

“I think business casual is a good minimum,” he said. “Dress pants and at least a nice golf shirt.”

While there currently isn’t a dress code, Canniff said he has noticed that many dress codes have been reduced throughout the years, and more places have introduced things such as Casual Fridays.

“I think over time, people are getting more casual. But certainly, the role you’re in makes a statement with what you’re wearing. I look at each individual. They can choose to make their own statement, something to a certain minimum,” said Canniff.

This item reprinted with permission from The Independent News, Ridgetown, Ontario