Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker tired of threats and accusations.

Pitt Meadows mayor getting tired of threats, accusations

Supports Maple Ridge mayor

John Becker is angry.

The mayor of Pitt Meadows says he won’t put up with it anymore.

So if someone makes a nasty, defamatory or abusive comment on Facebook or below a news story or anywhere else in public, the lawyer-mayor says he’s going to take issue with it. He might run a correction on his own web page or maybe he’ll set up a blog. If all else fails, he may file a lawsuit against those who make outrageous claims against him, although that’s not something he’d want to do.

Becker spoke out on the issue this week in a letter to The News, supporting Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read following a threat that was made against her.

Read missed five weeks of city council in April and May, after Ridge Meadows RCMP alerted her about a threat made against her.

Becker said he also gets threats and accusations the old-school way, via telephone and e-mail. For instance, he recently received a scary voice mail at night, with the call display identifying the caller.

But social media, Facebook groups in particular, is the origin of most of the hate.

Maple Ridge Coun. Tyler Shymkiw said he’s talked to other councillors who’ve been in office for 20 years.

“They do say the job has changed dramatically just over the last two years with the rise of social media.”

Becker knows that politicians are supposed to have thicker skin than regular members of the public.

“However, the volume of it is much greater and the level of viciousness is much greater. To see this expanding into attacks on … my business. My children are attacked, my wife is attacked.

“It’s mind-numbing… these private Facebook groups, and there’s no such thing (as private), and they’re doing it with impunity because no one else has had the guts to call them out and make them accountable.”

He said that up until now, he’s listened to the advice of his public relations and administrative staff who’ve been telling him not to respond to attacks against him.

“Oh no, you don’t want to inflame the situation.”

But that approach isn’t helping. “It just emboldens them.

“Show me that it’s decreasing the level of viciousness.”

He’d rather not go the legal route and file a defamation suit, but he points out that when it comes to accusations against lawyers or accountants that question their professionalism, “the damages for that kind of allegation are very significant.”

While online abusers think they’re safe, the same rules against defamation apply online as they do in print. A statement made online, on Facebook, can lead to a lawsuit as easily as one made in print.

Becker said his letter from Wednesday’s News is getting some response and he’d like to continue the discussion with other mayors around Metro Vancouver.

“Is there a role for city money to be spent on defamation action, vis a vis elected officials? I think that would be an interesting conversation.

“I’m not going to sit by and I would encourage colleagues like Nicole Read, colleagues in Langley, up country, on the Island, don’t just roll over. Challenge your communications and PR people. What are you doing? How can you help this? And they don’t have an answer.”

He said female politicians have it worse because of chauvinism.

“If you’re a strong, male leader, you’re a strong male leader. If you’re a strong female leader, you’re a b…”

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

One of the options city council is looking at to reduce greenhouse gases is strengthening development requirements for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. (The News files)
New net zero greenhouse gas emission target for Maple Ridge

City voted to change the target on Oct. 20

There is a case of COVID-19 at Baillie House, located on the grounds of Ridge Meadows Hospital. (Google)
COVID-19 case at Baillie House in Maple Ridge

Seniors facility at Ridge Meadows Hospital one of five with new cases in region

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

The Ridge Meadows Flames were able to put their jerseys on and face opposition for the first time since COVID hit. (Facebook)
Flames wrangle with whalers in first exhibition game of 20/21 season

Maple Ridge Junior B squad fell to the White Rock team 5-3 on Sunday

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another school in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has COVID-19 exposure

Three school exposure events announced in last two days

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

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

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read