After 14 years off Hamilton council, Bob Morrow is a rookie again

On Wednesday, former mayor Bob Morrow sat in his first council meeting as an appointed Ward 3 represented. CBC Hamilton asked him what happens next.
Former mayor Bob Morrow has served his first council meeting as a Ward 3 councillor on Wednesday. Morrow will serve until the municipal election in October. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Former mayor Bob Morrow sat through his first city council meeting as a newly appointed Ward 3 representative on Wednesday. It was his first council meeting in 14 years.

Morrow, 67, was first elected to council in 1970. He served as Hamilton's mayor from 1982 to 2000, making him the city's longest-serving mayor.

After some controversy over process, he was appointed this month to replace Ward 3 councillors Bernie Morelli, who died on Jan. 14. He will serve until the municipal election in October.

Morrow, who retired as a citizenship and immigration judge in 2010, spoke little during his first meeting. He seconded a motion to include the Kenilworth Library on a registry of properties of heritage value. Near the end of the meeting, he said it was good to be back.

CBC Hamilton asked him some questions about his new role. 

How did it feel to sit here at the table?

It was similar to the regional council, which I was on until 2000, because we had representatives from what is now the whole city. That is something I was thinking about, but it’s a different experience — not one that I expected.

Did someone approach you about taking this job? How did it happen?

I was phoned by one of the councillors on behalf of a couple of others and asked if I would consider it. I got back and said I would, and one thing led to another. It came as a total surprise.

How long did it take you to think about it?

I certainly pondered it for a several days. I wasn’t anxious to do anything publicly because I knew of course Bernie’s situation and then death and funeral arrangements, and I was involved with the funeral. I was anxious that it wouldn’t be a public matter until an appropriate period of time after.

There was quite a bit of discussion about your appointment, or if there would be other candidates…

There wasn’t that much. There were a few members of council that raised it, and it’s a valid point. They could have done it that way. They could have had a byelection. They’re all possible points under the legislation and that’s how it works. If you didn’t have different opinions, you wouldn’t have much of a democracy.

Did you weigh in at all?

No. Not at all. In that sense, it was the easiest campaign I’ve ever had. I didn’t lobby, I didn’t campaign, I didn’t plead.

How do you know you’re not going to run again?

I have no intention of running again, and I’ve said that.

Why not?

I had no intention previously of doing so. There was some hope that someone who was appointed not take advantage of that at the expense of others via public notoriety or publicity. I have no intention of doing so, so I feel free to say so.

Some city hall watchers have said it’s always the same faces. They use the phrase “old boy’s club” and that sort of thing. You’ve been a familiar face at city hall…

Not for 14 years.

Have you heard that criticism yourself?

No. I’m sure it’s there, and I’m sure you will hear about it. But no, I’ve had good feedback, and I’ll work hard to measure up. Bernie had big shoes to fill. I appreciate being involved, I know the ward well, and here I am.

What are some of the big issues facing Hamilton right now?

The waterfront’s future is a pet project for me. Downtown, of course. The stadium issue. Bernie’s seniors project. There’s an environmental project in Gage Park they want to see me about. All the school issues. I’ll be getting up to snuff on all of them.

What do you want people to know?

I’m looking forward to trying to measure up. I’ll be working hard and looking forward to it.


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