David Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail for sex assault on Wednesday. (THE NEWS files) David Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail for sexual assault on Wednesday. (THE NEWS/files)

Pitt council takes action in wake of Murray sentencing

Put elected local government official on paid leave upon conviction of a serious criminal offence.

Pitt Meadows city council will lobby Victoria for legislative changes to allow municipalities to force councillors out of office when they have been convicted of serious offences.

Former Pitt Meadows councillor David Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail on Wednesday for a sexual assault that occurred 26 years ago against a girl who was 13 or 14 years old at the time.

Even after his conviction last fall, council had no authority to have him removed from office. Murray resigned at the end of January.

Tuesday, Mayor John Becker proposed a motion that council lobby the Lower Mainland Local Government Association for changes.

“I don’t suppose anybody needs any reminding of the incident from the fall,” said Becker, who did not refer to Murray by name.

“The Community Charter provides no assistance to city councils in circumstances where members of council have been convicted of a criminal offence while in office.”

Becker, a lawyer, noted that there had been such legislation, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court and has never been replaced.

“Here in Pitt Meadows, the matter was dealt with – but in the absence of any policy or legislation,” he said. “And it was clear, the direction of this council and the direction of our community, was that situation was unacceptable.

“The commitment was made that we were going to move forward to have the law changed, so that neither this council nor any council in the province would be faced with that intolerable situation again.”

Becker said he spoke to Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson and that she recommended the city put forward a resolution via the LMLGA, to be forwarded the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The proposed motion will require an elected local government official 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 motion will also require that an elected local government official be disqualified from holding office upon conviction of a serious criminal offence, upon the expiration of the time to file an appeal or determination of an appeal.

Becker said it struck him as unfair that a person could lose his or her position on council, but could still appeal and have a conviction overturned, so he added the second part of the motion.

Becker also said that if the appeal period runs into the next municipal election, the councillor would lose his or her seat at the council table.

“Once the election comes, we’re all off council,” he added.

“Local government is the closest one to the people, and we need to push for changes,” Coun. Janis Elkerton said in supporting the motion.

Coun. Bill Dingwall, a retired RCMP superintendent, said the changes do not go far enough. He believes a person should be placed on paid leave as soon as charges of an indictable offence are approved by Crown counsel. That will protect the reputation of the city, he said, and give the public confidence that elected officials are held to a higher standard.

Dingwall said Crown takes an unbiased look at evidence brought by a police investigation, considering both the likelihood of conviction and the public interest.

“I think we have to have confidence in that,” he added.

Dingwall is critical of council’s handling of the Murray case, from charge approval right to the decision not to hold a byelection.

“Council completely mishandled this whole matter,” he said.

Dingwall said council should have restricted Murray’s activities with a motion of censure as soon as charges were laid.

“For me, the previous actions speak much louder than the words this week, and it impacted on the victim, on victims in general and on our community.”

A proposed resolution by Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan to require criminal record checks for candidates running in municipal elections did not get supported at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association convention.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

The coronavirus has closed a Pitt Meadows pub. (Black Press files)
Pitt Meadows pub closed due to COVID-19

Staff member at Jolly Coachman tested positive for virus

Thousands of people have either voted early or requested mail-in ballots in Maple Ridge provincial ridings. (Black Press Media File)
Thousands vote early or by mail in Maple Ridge area

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Mission voters are already voting

Adrian Dix with NDP candidates Bob D-Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission) and Lisa Beare (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) at the Urgent and Primary Care Centre at Haney Place Mall. (Special to The News)
Dix visits Maple Ridge’s new Urgent and Primary Care Centre

There still aren’t enough doctors to staff facility – Meadus

Michelle Shipley shared these pictures taken of Pitt Lake this fall. “Such a beautiful area,” she said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Late fall reflected in the waters of Pitt Lake

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Police boats were called in to search the Fraser River after a report that a plane had crashed where the river runs between Langley and Maple Ridge. (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Investigation enters final phase, missing aircraft last seen over Fraser River in Maple Ridge

Small aircraft was carrying a student and instructor on June 6

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Most Read