Update: Lower Mainland cities kill motion to remove convicted councillors

Motion lost in 30-30 tie at LMLGA conference

Pitt Meadows’ resolution to remove council members convicted of crimes was lost in a tie vote at a conference of Lower Mainland municipalities on Thursday.

As it stands, local politicians such as former Pitt Meadows councillor David Murray, who has been convicted of sexual assault, can stay on council as long as they are able to attend some meetings. There is no legal mechanism to remove them from office, and the city wants to lobby Victoria for legislative changes.

The resolution was lost at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association conference, being held in Whistler from May 9-11, in a 30-30 tie.

Mayor John Becker said he intends to press the matter at the Union of BC Municipalities, with a new, clearer motion, in September.

Becker noted all councillors from a municipality may vote at the LMLGA conference, but only he and Janis Elkerton attended from Pitt Meadows.

“If I had been able to stuff another councillor in my suitcase, we would have won the day,” he said.

Being passed by LMLGA would have automatically put the issue on the agenda at the UBCM 2018 convention, being held Sept. 10-14 in Whistler. Now, Pitt Meadows will have to ask the UBCM to include the issue.

Becker said he had only three minutes to present the motion, and it was not enough time to properly address the issue. He said the group of city councillors who spoke to the motion expressed concerns that were sometimes off the mark – such as a minor conviction resulting in a person not being able to run for council.

“This was a great dress rehearsal,” said Becker from the LMLGA conference on Friday morning.

His plan is to have city hall re-draft the resolution so that there is more detail embedded in it, to clarify its intent.

Becker and Elkerton lobbied for the motion at LMLGA, “worked the crowd,” and the politicians he spoke with were generally supportive.

“The comments were all positive in terms of addressing the issue,” he said.

Becker noted that under the present laws, a convicted councillor will be removed from office only after they have been in jail for long enough that they have missed too many meetings.

“That’s what we have now, which is completely unnacceptable,” he said.

One concern he heard was a city councillor who participated in an act of civil disobedience, such as protesting the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, could be charged with criminal contempt and be removed from municipal office. Becker, a practising lawyer, said in his opinion a person who disobeys a direct order of the courts should face that sanction, but these issues need to be worked out.

“This is a great conversation – we need to have the conversation,” he said.

Murray was convicted in October of 2017 of sexually assaulting a 13- or 14-year-old girl in 1992. Throughout his trial, he remained on council, did not immediately resign upon conviction, and agreed to resign his seat after a private meeting with Becker five days later.

The proposed resolutions would require an elected local government official to be put on paid leave immediately upon conviction of a serious criminal offence – which offences are to be defined by legislation.

A second part of the resolution will also require that an elected local government official be disqualified from holding office upon conviction of a serious criminal offence, after the expiration of the time to file an appeal or determination of an appeal.

Both resolutions were lost with 30-30 tie votes.

Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail. He is appealing both his conviction and his sentence, has been granted his release, and the courts have given him until Oct. 16 to file his statement of facts, which will be the next step in his legal battle.

The LMLGA is one of the five area associations of the UBCM, and it includes 33 municipal governments from Pemberton to Hope, as well as three regional districts.

Just Posted

Chilliwack RCMP find chemicals and cannabis extract in illicit lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Chilliwack RCMP seek suspects in rash of poppy donation box thefts

Incidents at four different locations in Sardis in the days leading up to Remembrance Day

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

Most Read