City of Toronto staffer’s profane outburst rings true

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PASSIFIUME: City of Toronto staffer’s profane outburst rings true
Carleton Grant, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, apologized for the hot mic cursing

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:Mar 11, 2021 • 5 hours ago • 2 minute read • comment bubble37 Comments
Carleton Grant, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards for the City of Toronto.
Carleton Grant, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards for the City of Toronto. PHOTO BY @CARLETONGRANT /Twitter
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To err is human, to mute divine.

Nearly 11 hours into yet another unnecessarily long Toronto city council meeting Wednesday night, one city staffer’s off-the-cuff utterance about the session’s glacial pace was accidentally broadcast for all to hear.


As the meeting wore on, Council Speaker Frances Nunziata was doing her best to keep her colleagues on track, lest the balance of the meeting’s relatively short agenda be once again adjourned and put off until the next meeting.

“We only have, like, 45 minutes, and the rest of the agenda’s gonna be deferred until April,” she said from her seat in council chambers, addressing colleagues and city staff attending virtually via Webex.

“Excuse me, Speaker, why is the agenda being deferred until April?” Councillor Paula Fletcher interjected.

“Because it’s quarter-past-eight,” Nunziata began, before being cut off.

“Because you f***ing can’t get your s*** done,” said a disembodied voice from the ether.

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“Woah!” reacted one councilor, as others gasped and digitally clutched their pearls.

“Who said that?!” Nunziata demanded, as somebody’s baby — a literal one — wailed into one of dozens of open microphones logged into the session.

“Councillor Ainslie?” Nunziata said, summarily tossing her council colleague — who wasn’t even online at the time — under the bus.

“He’s not even there,” somebody responded.

“Councillor Ainslie, you owe council an apology!” Nunziata’s voice twisted with indignation.

“I don’t think he said that,” a councillor chimed in.

“I don’t think so either!” said another.

“That didn’t sound like Paul,” said a third.

“A named popped up on the bottom, it was not him,” added a fourth.


Finally, and to his enormous credit, the mystery mutterer fessed up.

“It’s Carleton here, it was my mistake,” said a rather sheepish Carleton Grant, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards.

“I apologize.”

“Woo hooooo!” chortled one councillor who sounded suspiciously like the jovial Shelley Carroll, who last month exploded with mirth after her colleague Paula Fletcher was caught attending council while behind the wheel of her car.

“So you did say it!” Nunziata shot back.

Council Speaker Frances Nunziata reacts during a virtual session that included some cursing from a city staffer on March 10, 2021.
Council Speaker Frances Nunziata reacts during a virtual session that included some cursing from a city staffer on March 10, 2021. PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB /Toronto Sun
Others, however, were more intent on moving the meeting along over prolonging Grant’s time on the carpet.

“Apology accepted, let’s move on,” said Councillor Joe Cressy.

“And the apology’s been accepted, shall we move forward, please?” said Mayor John Tory, to expression of approval from others.

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Grant’s not-on-mute outburst was of a frustration shared by all as we pass the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto is languishing through an unnecessarily long lockdown while frustration builds among the thousands damned to endure endless virtual meetings.

Council’s penchant for ridiculously long meetings never abated in this new age, with many Toronto councillors choosing to amplify their customary grandstanding and petty bickering.

While unprofessional, Grant’s outburst brought a broad smile to the dozens of staffers, civil servants and journalists forced to watch council hold court over Toronto’s vast legislative machinery.

With that in mind, it’s probably best to just move forward — a sentiment echoed by Toronto’s spokesperson-in-chief when reached for comment Thursday morning.

“As the mayor said, if you watch the tape, we will move on,” Brad Ross remarked.

And move on we shall.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com