Ottawa city councillor confronts daycare over summer camp noise, uses 'profanities'

West Carleton-March Coun. Clarke Kelly is denying accusations that he disrupted a summer camp program and swore at childcare staff in front of children.

In an email sent to parents on behalf of the West Carleton Kids Korner (WCKK) — a childcare facility that operates in the same community complex as Kelly's ward office — Kelly allegedly entered a room Wednesday "where a small summer camp group was doing crafts and started yelling profanities at the staff, threatening that [the] camp has to go and using vulgar language and names towards staff and children."

The WCKK said it contacted Ottawa police for assistance.

In response, Kelly issued a statement on his website refuting the allegations, and accused the WCKK of misrepresenting the events.

"I did not at any time enter the chambers where the camp was doing crafts. I did not yell at staff or threaten that the camp has to go. I did not use vulgar language or names toward staff or children," Kelly wrote.

However, later in the same statement Kelly wrote that he regrets using profanities when speaking with WCKK's program supervisor, Karen Bolton.

He explained that the incident began while he was in a committee meeting.

West Carleton-March Coun. Clarke Kelly at a meeting of council's emergency preparedness and protective services committee on Thursday, Feb 15, 2024.
Kelly at a city council meeting in February. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

"During the meeting, there were children banging on the window of my office four feet from me, bouncing basketballs, hitting metal poles with lacrosse sticks, screaming, all of which made it impossible to do the job I was elected to do on your behalf," Kelly wrote.

He said he briefly left the meeting to ask staff to move the children away from his window, and was met with "a rude" and "unhelpful response."

This prompted him to speak directly with Bolton.

Denies allegations, admits use of profanities

"I should have taken time to collect myself before going to speak with [Bolton]. My failure to do so does not excuse my use of profanities when speaking with her," Kelly said, emphasizing that no children were present during the exchange.

In his statement, Kelly wrote he would "welcome the opportunity to address" any questions or concerns, but declined an interview.

CBC has reached out to Ottawa police and has not received a response.

Kelly said he has notified a lawyer and plans to address what he's calling libel.

Arnprior mayor Lisa McGee says the entire town will likely feel the impact of the plant's closure.
Arnprior Mayor Lisa McGee says Kelly's statement accurately portrays events. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

In a written statement to CBC, Bolton said "the events of today with Coun. Clarke Kelly and Mayor Lisa McGee with my staff and children in attendance, have caused some upset … an elected city official did in fact swear and name call in front of children today."

McGee — the mayor of Arnprior, Ont., who also works as a constituency assistant for Kelly — confirmed she was present for the incident.

"I can also confirm without hesitation that he did not swear at children, go into their camp space in chambers they crafted, or swear at staff," she wrote in a statement to CBC.

"His statement on the issue is an accurate portrayal of how things evolved."