Mayor of small community near Sudbury, Ont., quits citing pandemic stress, vaccine mandate
Citing his opposition to vaccine mandates for staff, and stress brought on by the pandemic, the mayor of the Ontario Township of Nairn and Hyman has resigned.
Laurier Falldien has been mayor of the northern Ontario community of around 350 people for 11 years. He said in his resignation letter that he was stepping down effective Nov. 17.
"Firstly is personal stress and health," Falldien wrote. "In the last 18 months, my business was forced to close for seven months due to COVID-19, causing a huge financial burden."
Coping with that stress, as well as being mayor, has become "overwhelming," he said.
"I feel I have to focus on recouping these losses and refocus on my business and personal life."
Another major factor, Falldien wrote, is the fact councillors are headed toward imposing vaccine mandates on staff.
"I do not and will never support this," he wrote.
"This is an infringement on the Charter of Human Rights (sic) and the Canadian constitution and is being challenged in courtrooms across the nation."
Falldien added he was proud of his accomplishments as mayor and said he represented the community with "pride and dignity."
"I wish nothing but happiness, good health and success for everyone in Nairn and Hyman."
In a post, the township said it was sharing the letter "with regret" and that Falldien's seat will be declared vacant at the next council meeting Dec. 13.
Deputy Mayor Frederic Diebel has served with Falldien for the last three years and made headlines in his own right as one of Canada's youngest serving politicians.
He now could find himself in the mayor's seat depending on what council decides at its Dec. 13 meeting.
"Quite simply it's laid out in his resignation letter -- the reasons why he is choosing to resign -- I keep telling myself the show must go on," Diebel told CTV News.
He said while there's an empty seat at the council table, they still have taxpayers to listen to and decisions to make.
Council will now have to decide whether it wants to fill that spot with another member of council, appoint someone or call a byelection. With a civic election slated for next October, Diebel doesn't foresee the need to call a byelection for the town's roughly 350 residents.
"I think the mayor's statement, he chose to go down that route and I just want to say that council does not believe in his position against the vaccines and I would assume within the next couple of months that council would have a mandate in place," he said.
Another person close to the situation said they felt the mayor jumped the gun with his resignation. While some believe a mandate is inevitable, there isn't a vaccine policy in place yet.
Belinda Ketchabaw is the township's chief administrative officer and has known Falldien a long time.
"He's a great guy and we're sad to see he will no longer be our head of council. He's done some great things here in this town and I think everyone needs to focus on that," said Ketchabaw. "There's been many projects in town where the mayor or former mayor has donated his time and even portions of his salary to get a project going that would help the town, for example the town signs."
CTV News did reach out to former mayor Falldien who declined to comment on camera. He did say his letter speaks for itself.
He's also proud of what the three councils he's led as mayor have accomplished during his 11 years in office.