Some members of city council say the mayor should be careful when choosing his words after he called them a dysfunctional group before an in camera meeting on Monday.

A special meeting of council was called by the mayor and most members say that they didn't know what was on the agenda as they headed into the meeting.

The meeting was called so council could spend a few hours coming up with ways to work together better.

The Mayor also brought in a facilitator to help the discussion.

When one member of council suggested that he might not attend the in camera portion of the meeting, the Mayor described council as a dysfunctional group.

"I would find it extraordinary if any member of council did not want to attend a meeting on how council can work together better," said Mayor Nenshi. "But if members of council are interested in a dysfunctional group that is not working well together, it is absolutely their prerogative."

A number of councillors have taken exception to the comment.

"It is a little strong dysfunctional, I take umbrage to that, because I work well with my colleagues, with everyone from the mayor on down," said Ward 8 Councillor, John Mar.

"It's a strong word for a leader to use and it's something that needs to be explained fully when you choose to use that word," said Ward 13 Councillor, Diane Colley-Urquhart

"I would not characterize this council as dysfunctional, I would characterize this council as very thoughtful and methodical," said Ward 10 Councillor, Andre Chabot.

"Language is powerful and I choose the language I use at this moment very carefully," said Ward 2 Councillor, Gord Lowe.

The mayor would not comment on the controversy and an assistant with his office said that the mayor would not back track on calling city council dysfunctional.