London

Library board member resigns over Coun. Kayabaga's Wi-Fi hotspot comments

A member of the London Public Library's board of directors has resigned saying he refuses to be "someone else's scapegoat" following a budget discussion about Wi-Fi hotspots that continues to divide the community.

'I am sad that she chooses to overlook the impact of her words on the volunteers behind the business case'

Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga said cutting the Wifi lending service anti-immigrant, anti-poverty, anti-women and anti-children. (Submitted )

A member of the London Public Library's board of directors has resigned saying he refuses to be "someone else's scapegoat" following a budget discussion about not funding the library's Wi-Fi hotspots lending program. 

Jeremy McCall used social media to explain his reasons for leaving the board, noting he had formally submitted his resignation Saturday. 

"I've lost sleep and experienced panic attacks for three days related to my volunteer service with the LPL board, and this is no way to live as an unpaid volunteer," McCall wrote on his personal blog.

McCall is referring to a political spat at city hall Thursday where politicians were arguing about whether to fund a $188,000 Wi-fi hotspot lending program. The city was going to fund the program after the province withdrew its funding, but the library offered up to find private funding for it. 

London library's Wi-Fi hotspot lending program axed after heated debate

That's when Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga expressed disappointment calling the proposal to not fill the library's funding gap an "anti-immigrant, anti-poverty, anti-women, anti-children type-motion." 

The comment sparked a political explosion in chambers. One councillor put a motion forward to kick Kayabaga out of the six-day meeting. Kayabaga refused to back down, and a vote was eventually held, but not before lawyers were consulted.

The vote failed, although four councillors voted to kick out Kayabaga. They were Shawn Lewis, Phil Squire, Michael Van Holst and Paul Van Meerbergen.  

Kayabaga stayed and her statement remains on the public record.

Watch the exchange

Coun. Arielle Kayabaga said she was 'disappointed' the program's funding was up for debate, despite it being a pilot project that was funded by the province. 1:16

That's not why McCall says he is resigning, he says in his blog post. 

He explains he is leaving because Kayabaga has "endlessly retweeted" her stance without considering the impact her words have had on the volunteers behind the business case.

Jeremy McCall resigned his position on the London Public Library Board on Feb. 1 2020

McCall says she did not consider the "intense deliberation" by the library board that went into the proposal to cut the Wi-Fi program. 

"She does not know what else was at risk ... Councillor Kayabaga does not know what the board members personally pledged to do with regards to the hotspots, or how passionately and strongly they pledged their support in ensuring the service was offered to patrons regardless of funding source."

McCall also points out that Kayabaga, who was at one time a library board member and knows the integrity and diverse makeup of the current board, had opportunities ahead of the meeting to discuss with the board and seek clarification. 

Despite asking for a private meeting with the councillor, McCall said she sent him a statement, the one that's been so widely circulated.  

CBC London has reached out to the Kayabaga for comment. 

McCall makes clear that Kayabaga should never have faced expulsion from the meeting but he takes her comments personally. 

"Councillor Kayabaga also accused me of doing something anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poverty, and anti-child.

"I donate to and volunteer for Rotholme, Anova, and London Abused Women's Centre as a survivor of and witness to abuse of both myself and my mother and sister by my ex-step father." 

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