SIMS: The political consequences are starting to pile up for the mayor of the region who supports the convoys

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If you have time to get away from the Winter Olympics or the police crackdown in Ottawa, watch the YouTube stream of Thursday night’s Special Warwick Township Council Meeting on Fire Services.

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There were plenty of flames during the political debate in the tiny municipality of Lambton County, but not over what was happening at the fire station.

Twenty-three minutes of the 30-minute meeting (watch it below) focused on the recent activities of lightning rod Mayor Jackie Rombouts, who was all smiles in a photo during the Ottawa occupation and then proclaimed the Victory for an end to the 402 Freeway anti-restrictions and anti-government tractor blockade after speaking to protesters.

Let’s just say the rest of her council aren’t too happy with her. By the end of the meeting, they had voted unanimously to launch an Integrity Commission investigation into his antics.

Sit down and bring some popcorn.

Leading the charge was the councillor. Todd White, who in another meeting earlier this week politely asked about the mayor’s views and his proclaimed role in opening the freeway.

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He came out slamming Thursday. “I find it appalling,” he said. “What I saw I’m embarrassed, and a number of community members have also come up to me and said, ‘I’m embarrassed to say I’m from Warwick’.”

If this kind of grandstanding had happened in the corporate world, “it would have been dealt with quickly and harshly, which meant the board would have moved someone out of their position,” he said.

“For more details, what are you accusing me of? asked Rombouts.

“For not having the best interests of the township at heart, as we all should as councilors,” White said.

Com. Colin Mitchell seconded the motion. “I feel like you’ve gone rogue,” he told the mayor.

Jackie Rombouts, Mayor of Warwick Township.  File photo
Jackie Rombouts, Mayor of Warwick Township. File photo

I interviewed Rombouts earlier this week and it’s clear she twisted herself like a pretzel trying to say she hears “all sides” of the debate, when, if you drill down, she’s deal with those who get arrested in Ottawa.

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She described her trip to Ottawa as a reunion of a group of kind Christians who were bullied because they weren’t vaccinated against a deadly, transmittable virus. We never got into Nazi flags and white national extremism.

The most infuriating argument from the anti-restriction crowd is that they are “forced” to get vaccinated. No one in Canada has been forced into anything. If you chose not to get vaccinated, there were consequences, such as restrictions aimed at stopping viral spread to protect the rest of the community from illness and death.

While Rombouts was in Ottawa, self-proclaimed local “visionary” David Buurma, who owns a company that makes fertilizer pellets from human feces (politely called human sewage sludge), clogged the highway with a few supporters and a bunch of tractors.

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The community was in turmoil. I think Rombouts saw a political opening and claimed victory once the blockade moved. She had declined to condemn the blockade a day earlier in a Free Press interview.

She criticized MPP Monte MacNaughton for not meeting with the group. She ripped into Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, who called the 402 protest “economic terrorism.” But she never asked her council for advice, which makes them all look bad. And she never called the blocking of the freeway for what it was, an illegal act.

When confronted with the meeting, Rombouts said that if the protest was illegal, “the OPP would have come in and arrested them.”

White made it clear that Rombouts’ opinion was certainly not shared by the citizens who called him out. He pointed out that most of the correspondence on the agenda did not support the mayor, except for what appeared to be a few letters that arrived just before the meeting.

Rombouts said she doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong and she thinks “there’s a big part of the community supporting the convoy. I’m not saying what they did was right.

Then she made a jaw-dropping calculation. “In my opinion, exposing half of the population in Canada is not the way to go.

I’m not too sure about his statistical skills, but what can be counted are the votes. In the 2018 municipal election, Rombouts won the race for mayor with just 77 of them.

Warwick voters, along with the Integrity Commissioner, will be watching their ‘rogue’ mayor closely this fall. Stay tuned.

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