Playing politics with Pitt Meadows banners?

Korean war vet angry over omissions of candidates from other team

A Pitt Meadows veteran is taking some shots at what he calls crass politics, being played with Monday morning’s unveiling of new Remembrance Day banners at City Hall.

“That was as low of politics as I have seen in my 84 years of age,” said Warren Byrnell, complaining that the team of city hall candidates he supports were all absent.

“I support the other team, that wasn’t there,” he said.

Mayoralty candidate John Becker was not invited, and neither was his election team of Couns. Janis Elkerton, Bruce Bell and David Murray.

“You don’t play that kind of politics,” groused Byrnell.

All candidates and councillors should have been notified of the event, asserted the Korean War veteran.

Couns. Bell, Elkerton and Murray all confirmed they were not notified about the ceremony.

Murray has asked questions of city hall about the omission, and awaits an explanation. As deputy mayor, he certainly should be aware of community functions, he said.

“Politicizing something like this is absolutely appalling,” said Murray.

His father landed at Juno Beach in 1944, and suffered a serious leg injury. Murray would definitely have attended.

“Absolutely. Anything for veterans – I’m all over that.”

Bell echoed that sentiment with: “Had I known about it, I would have been there, and I was sorry to miss it.”

Elkerton said she first learned about the banners event when Byrnell called her out.

“They [veterans] expect councillors to be there, and why weren’t we?” she said.

Becker heads the team, and was also not invited. However, he said that could be considered reasonable, given that he is not a sitting council member. His political opponent, Michael Hayes, was front and centre, but Hayes is the president of the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation, which was a partner in the banners project.

“It’s unfortunate that what should have been a community celebration was politicized,” said Becker.

He noted that members of what he calls “Walters’ slate” of Hayes, Tracy Miyashita and Gwen O’Connell were all there. Walters has publicly supported those three candidates.

The mayor responded that it was a Pitt Meadows Community Foundation event.

“I had nothing to do with invitations,” she said.

After she was notified, Walters assumed that everyone on council would be.

“I am disgusted that candidates are making this about the election,” said Walters. “I think it’s cheap and sleazy.”

She added the event was more than a “cheap photo op” to her – she is not running again.

“It was about the veterans.”

O’Connell said she works at the Wesbrooke seniors home, and personally knows two of the veterans who were being honoured, and has planned to attend with them and their families.

“It was nothing to do with sides [teams] – it’s to honour veterans,” O’Connell said.

She said political grandstanding is not uncommon during an election campaign, but was surprised by the complaints from the Becker team.

“I know it’s the silly season, but pick your battles,” advised O’Connell.

Walters said Miyashita learned about the event on one of her many visits to city hall.

“Get out, get involved in the community, and you would have known what’s going on,” said Walters to her critics. “And you would have been there.”