Orser OK taking heat
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Stephen Orser may be considered a lot of things by a lot of people, but he continues to take things in stride — whether it is a significant shaving accident or a lopsided council defeat.
Orser, councillor for Ward 4, has taken a lot of heat over the past several days around several topics. He has been confronted by social media comments about how effective a politician he is, questions around why he missed a recent committee meeting and even public comments he made on a story on the website of the city’s daily broadsheet newspaper.
And then during council’s regular meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 18), Orser was soundly thrashed by his fellow councillors — in a 13-1 vote — about his suggestion to demolish the portion of the old McCormick’s factory that was damaged in a fire this past weekend.
“You can tell a good politician by the number of arrows in his back, and I look like a porcupine,” Orser said. “I was out in the community today after the front page story (again in the city’s broadsheet daily newspaper) and the comments were more about the small injury to my neck then the fact I was front and centre for McCormick’s.”
Regarding the online article that was discussing the preparedness of certain city councillors, Orser said he found it “very annoying, very belittling,” and he felt justified commenting on what he believed were inaccurate statements in it.
And then there was the issue of the shaving injury. Orser said his doctor told him he had accidentally sliced into a blood vessel. The combination of that incident, combined with the exhaustion he felt after his work around the McCormick’s situation, was the reason Orser said he missed Monday’s meeting of the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee.
Although some people will choose not to believe him, Orser — who wore a small band aid on his neck at council — said the comments being made about the shaving incident, along with those speaking out against his online statements, mean very little to him.
“As far as the subject matter to my comments, people were laughing like hyenas. They didn’t seem to be upset by it,” Orser said. “There is the normal little blog thing that comes up, but the general public, the people I deal with in my ward, there was no negativity. I will stand with my voters.”
Orser may need to take comfort in his supporters, as he seemed to have little support around the council horseshoe Monday night.
Prior to the council meeting, Orser said he had been talking with city staff around the progress of environmental assessments being conducted on the property, along with the cost of demolishing the portion of the facility damaged in the fire.
Orser said he understands staff says the structural damage of the building doesn’t justify, under the law, tearing down the structure. However, he was convinced it was the right direction for council to take.
During the meeting, Orser said he was willing to “beg” his fellow councillors to support his proposal based on his fear that a greater tragedy lies ahead.
“It would only take one more fire and a dead body there for us to face a multi-million dollar lawsuit,” Orser said. “I really believe it is time to take some swift action on this property and I believe if we demolish the back end, and leave the historic front, we will be in a better position for the community to feel safe . . . we will be in better position to move forward.”
The 13-1 vote showed Orser’s position found little support among his fellow council members. The results of the vote drew laughter from the council horseshoe and comments such as, “Well that was close.”
As he said earlier, however, Orser isn’t concerned about occasionally being the punch line of public jokes.
“There are various opinions out there; I’m not worried,” Orser said. “The bottom line is if someone talks about me, I will talk back. Absolutely.”
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