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‘Not my finest moment:’ Police called to dispute between Ottawa city councillor and daycare owner

Ottawa city councillor Clarke Kelly says he is not apologizing after a Kinburn daycare owner alleged he screamed and swore in front of children during a dispute that saw police called to the scene on Wednesday afternoon.

The West Carleton Kids Korner said in an email to parents that police officers were called after the councillor approached the small summer camp where children were doing arts and crafts. The daycare is located next to the West Carleton-March Ward councillor’s constituency office in Ottawa’s west end.

“This morning, councillor Kelly took it upon himself to enter chambers where a small summer camp group was doing crafts and started yelling profanities at staff, threatening that camps has to go and using vulgar language and names towards staff and children,” the email said.

“He then proceeded to confront another staff outdoors to have toddlers (who were walking past a window outside) to have them remove their hands and get out of the area, in an aggressive manner trying to cause an escalated confrontation.”

The daycare says it is exploring the potential for a peace bond to “ensure this type of situation does not happen again.”

The West Carleton Kids Korner did not respond to multiple attempts by CTV News for comment.

In an interview with CTV News on Wednesday, Kelly admits to using profanity, but firmly denies that any children were around. He says he was “horrified” by the allegations made by the owner and said he is speaking to his lawyer over the issue.

Kelly says the dispute was the culmination of almost two years of issues between the daycare and Kelly’s constituency office.

He says his office has previously attempted to address problems over toys being left in doorways, messes in the washrooms and noise. On Wednesday, Kelly said he was attending the City of Ottawa planning and housing committee meeting via Zoom when he heard children banging on the window of his office, bouncing basketballs and screaming, “all of which made it impossible for me to do the job I was elected to do.”

He says he left the meeting and “politely” asked daycare staff to move the toys away from his window.

“I asked the staff to move the bin of toys away from my office window so they wouldn’t have to congregate and I got a very uncooperative and rude response from the staff of the daycare,” he said.

Frustrated by the interaction, he knocked on the door of the daycare where he admits he used profanity and “everything sort of went off the rails” with owner Karen Bolton.

“I did use some profanity with the owner. I will admit that wasn’t my finest moment as councillor and that I should have collected myself before going out there to have that conversation, but I don’t think that gives her the right to lie and tell people things that I did not do.”

Kelly denies having entered the chambers where the camp was doing crafts, and says he did not tell staff that the camp had to go or attempt to have an “escalated confrontation.”

Kelly said he left the scene and returned to his office, where police knocked on his door.

“Which is absolutely mystifying to me. How could a couple of F-Bombs scare an adult so much that they called the police? And she did that,” Kelly said, referring the Bolton.

“Just been incredible that someone would call the police for me on that.”

CTV News has reached out to the Ottawa police, but has not received a response. It’s unclear whether he could face charges.

He says while he apologizes for the way manner in which he spoke, he is not apologizing for the dispute.

“I apologize for using a swear word, leaders in the community should compose themselves, but I think we’re not immune into showing our frustration,” he said.

“But I’m not sorry for showing my frustrations over what has been happening around here. The daycare operations are getting in the way of my ability to serve my constituents.”

He says his lawyers have reviewed the email by the West Carleton Kids Korner and is exploring his legal options

“They’re not just misleading – they’re lies,” he said.

“My daughter is almost two and if I had gotten an email from my daycare provider that an elected official started swearing at staff and children, of course, that would be very concerning to me as a constituent as well. I want to reassure my constituents that I would never, ever, ever do that.”

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