Deputy Mayor Al Armstrong

Courtesy Photo

CORNWALL – North Dundas Deputy Mayor Al Armstrong has been elected by United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, (SD&G) councillors to finish off the term of county warden Frank Prevost.

The vote was precipitated by the unsettling vacancy at the United Counties of SD&G council table due to the six-month leave of absence granted to Prevost.

Armstrong will be sworn in in December and will serve as the warden until the term ends in 2021.

Armstrong is in his first term serving as deputy mayor in North Dundas.

He has a healthy political resumé going back to 2001 when he was first elected to the council table in North Dundas.

The vote to elect Armstrong to the position came when the SD&G council held their regular council meeting on Mon., June 21.

Councillors held lengthy discussion about what they should do regarding the unexpected vacancy at the head of their council table.

The issue they were all concerned about was preserving the effectiveness and consistency of council deliberations and decisions.

To choose to have a vote on the position, the council had to first agree to suspend its procedural bylaw and proceed with a vote, via secret ballot, to determine who would become the new warden. South Glengarry Deputy Mayor, Coun. Lyle Warden served as acting warden during the June 21 meeting.

In a press release from SD&G Armstrong said, “I am humbled that my colleagues around the counties’ council table saw fit to bestow this honour upon me,” Armstrong said following his election. “My goal as warden is to help us navigate the next five months with a renewed focus on helping our residents and small businesses deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also fostering a positive relationship with our municipal neighbours, including the City of Cornwall.”

Armstrong is looking forward to his new role as warden.

“It is something that I have thought of from time to time. It would be nice to be able to dig in at that level,” he said.

“I am quite comfortable with my portfolio at the municipal level, but I wouldn’t mind making whatever impact I can at the upper tier level.”

Armstrong said even though it would only be for a short time, he was looking forward to providing the leadership other members of the council expect from him.

North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser was pleased with the decision.

“I support it 100 per cent,” he said.

The mayor felt having a warden from North Dundas was good for the community.

He was happy to see the warden role move around SD&G.

“Each municipality should have an opportunity to have a warden.”

He felt that the counties need a warden to finish out the current term.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Child Sexual Exploitation Unit (CSEU), Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry OPP, Grenville OPP along with OPP Digital Forensics Investigators arrested and charged Frank Prevost on June 8, with three counts of child luring offences after an online undercover operation. Prevost is the current mayor of South Glengarry and warden for the United Counties of Stormont Dundas, and Glengarry (SD&G), and a Cornwall resident.

As a result of a separate investigation involving an adult victim, the accused has also been charged with one count of sexual assault.

He was held for a video bail hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice in Cornwall. 

Being charged with a crime does not necessarily mean a councillor, mayor or warden will be forced to leave their position. A presumption of innocence provides protection from that, however, if a member of a council is absent from his or her position for more than three months without the permission of fellow council members, they can be removed from their position.

A press release from the OPP about exploitation of children in general stated: “The OPP has seen an increase in online offender behaviour, by people intent on the sexual exploitation of children. As a result, members of OPP CSEU are actively conducting proactive online luring investigations to aggressively target these offenders.      

Parents are reminded to take a proactive approach to help protect their children from online sexual exploitation by speaking with their children regarding internet safety. Parents and anyone interested in protecting children can find resources to assist them at www.cybertip.ca.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation, or if you have information regarding internet child exploitation, please contact the OPP. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at (TIPS) or 1-800-222-8477 www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca. Reporting information may also be made on the internet through www.cybertip.ca, 1-888-310-1122.”

The 2022 warden will be sworn in, in December at a meeting of the council of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The meeting is comprised of the mayors and deputy mayors of each of the six local municipalities within the county. The warden is the head of counties council and is elected annually by members of council. A warden may serve a second consecutive term if re-elected.

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