Nicole Read wanted answers about the video recording of the June 17 Maple Ridge committee of the whole meeting.
Instead, she only had more questions following the District of Maple Ridge’s refusal of her freedom of information request for a copy of the unedited recording and for documents related to the denial of public access to the video.
Read filed the FOI request after the video recording was edited, then posted on the district website, removing a portion where Coun. Corisa Bell questioned staff and commented on the budget.
The district did so after legal advice, saying Maple Ridge could be liable if the staff member decided to sue.
“Am I expected to believe that the only individuals in the district who communicated about the issues outlined in the FOI are the mayor, [Coun.] Corisa Bell, yourself,” and two staff?” the Silver Valley resident asks legislative services manager Ceri Marlo.
There’s no documentation in the response to the FOI for Couns. Robert Masse, Cheryl Ashlie, Judy Dueck, Mike Morden or Al Hogarth, she says in an e-mail to the district.
And was there ever a complaint from the staff member, that led Mayor Ernie Daykin to have the video edited?
“Can you please confirm that this is because one doesn’t exist?”
Another e-mail to Read confirms that, saying the staff member hasn’t formally complained.
Daykin said Tuesday that while the individual may not have complained, if the video was public, he might feel differently.
Read said Tuesday there has to be a balance between protecting the individual and giving the public access to information.
“Does this person actually believe that they need this level of protection?”
She’s also dismayed at not getting any documents from council meetings, if there were any, to discuss the topic. Instead, she was given only general correspondence, a copy of the mayor’s statement to the media, and files from Bell herself.
“I don’t see the right paper trail,” Read said.
“The public interest is paramount … when you’re weighing all the criteria about whether to release something to the public, and what’s in the public interest versus what you need to block from the public to protect an individual’s privacy, it has to be something very viable. And Corisa Bell challenging staff – isn’t that an expected part of the process?”
Read also compared comments Coun. Cheryl Ashlie made towards Bell at the July 23 council meeting.
Ashlie said then, “The capacity to operate in this type of arena successfully requires intelligence and skill, but most importantly, you must have respect for the opinions of others and the conclusions of the majority, and be able to move on.
“We could all get our favourite colour league to show up, but we simply do not operate in that fashion.”
According to Read, “That statement was OK, not only was it OK, it was endorsed. So the mayor allowed that statement to take place after he had removed a video where Corisa challenged a staff member.”
Asked about whether such a statement could be defamatory, Daykin said he didn’t know.
Read says the district could be harming Bell’s reputation by alleging defamation and failing to provide the video so the public could decide.
Read plans on appealing the district’s decision and if necessary go to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
“More than anything, the public trust has been broken. Right now, my trust level with respect to the district, with all that is going on, is very low. I think I speak for a large number of people in saying that.”