Editor, The News:
Recent reports of measures that have been taken by the mayor and, apparently, the majority on Maple Ridge council against Coun. Corisa Bell are strange and disturbing.
As the result of Coun. Bell’s questioning of spending at municipal hall, lawyers advised Mayor Ernie Daykin that Coun. Bell may have defamed someone. Who is alleged to have been defamed? The public hasn’t been told that.
The mayor and council have withheld from Coun. Bell a copy of the tape of the June 17 meeting where this supposed transgression took place.
Yet lawyers for the municipality have viewed the document.
So, those who have cast Coun. Bell as the one who’s actions warrant examination by lawyers are unwilling to provide her with the same opportunity to defend herself by providing the said evidence to legal counsel of her choosing.
She has reviewed the tape and can tell her legal counsel what it says, but that is not sufficient.
A lawyer cannot provide adequate assistance with regards to evidence that they have not been able to view.
June 17 was one of the regular committee of the whole meetings that council holds.
It was not an in camera meeting, from which information is not available to the public, but was a public meeting.
Yet the tape of the meeting was taken down from the municipal website and the public is not allowed to view it.
I would be surprised if a court of law would uphold the withholding of this information from the public.
Apparently the tape was taken down from the municipal website to protect the municipality against potential legal action.
Yet council seems to maintain that Coun. Bell is under no threat of legal action.
How can the municipality be under threat of legal action for disseminating Ms. Bell’s remarks, but Ms. Bell herself is not under any such threat?
What did Ms. Bell say that was so threatening?
The public is not allowed to view the tape of the June 17 meeting, so we don’t know.
I think it’s pretty clear that’s what’s going on here is that Ms. Bell’s questioning has ruffled feathers at municipal hall, and that a heavy-handed attempt has been made to stifle her.
Having one’s name in print in association with words like defamation and having lawyers consulted on the matter is intimidating.
To suggest that Coun. Bell is not being threatened does not conform with the information that has been released.
In my opinion, Ms. Bell is owed an apology or two.
Editor’s note: an edited version of the June 17 meeting is now available on the District of
Maple Ridge website.