Pitt Meadows Coun. Nicole MacDonald.

Victoria ‘reviewing options’ for removing convicted councillors

Pitt Meadows lobbied for change after David Murray’s sex assault conviction

Pitt Meadows council continues to call for changes in law, so a councillor convicted – or even charged – with a serious crime can be removed from office.

Coun. Nicole MacDonald said at last week’s council meeting that facing charges of a serious offence should result in elected officials being removed from their positions.

“We’re a little bit short in just pursuing conviction. I still feel that charges are where we want to go,” she said.

City hall began this effort after former Pitt Meadows councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault in October 2017, and finding there was no legal requirement for him to be removed from office.

Following his conviction, Murray met with former mayor John Becker and chose to resign.

The city lobbied for changes through the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), which almost unanimously supported a Pitt Meadows resolution Disqualification from Holding Elected Office in fall 2018.

It would require an elected official be put on unpaid leave immediately upon conviction of a serious criminal offence, as defined by provincial legislation. That person would then be disqualified from holding office upon the expiration of an appeal, or determination of an appeal.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson said her ministry would work with the UBCM on the issue.

The province responded to the UBCM, which forwarded that response Pitt Meadows council recently:

“The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing takes these matters very seriously; however, this is a sensitive issue, triggering complex policy, legal, and practical questions. The legislation should balance the principle that it is the electors’ choice to decide who should best represent their interests in their communities with statutory restrictions to protect communities from candidates who are ‘unsuitable’ for public office. Ministry staff are currently reviewing potential options to address the issues raised; however, any proposed changes in this area are intricate and must be considered carefully.”

MacDonald, a notary and former Vancouver police officer with a master’s degree in applied legal studies, said she is heartened the province will review the issue.

But, she added: “I respectfully disagree with them that it is as complex as they put in their response. Most jobs, organizations, unions, professional societies have a mechanism or process in place if somebody is convicted of a serious crime.”

McDonald sees an issue with four-year terms, if criminal offences come up early on.

Then does the city have a potential issue that it is not the elector’s choice anymore, she asked.

”And if there is no process or mechanism that can force, or have a process for paid leave, then we’re left in a very difficult position as a community.”

Mayor Bill Dingwall said the province will be considering leave, paid or unpaid, for elected officials who are charged with serious crimes, under a separate UBCM resolution.

“I know some of my colleagues around the table at the Mayor’s Council continue to talk about this, and it will be a topic at UBCM again to make sure we keep moving that ball forward …” he added.

The resolution makes an exception for people convicted of crimes related to non-violent acts of civil disobedience.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Man charged in 2018 hit-and-run in Maple Ridge

Michael Howard Thomas was charged on July 19 in provincial court

Pride flags stolen from Maple Ridge church

Went missing sometime Friday night, says Golden Ears United reverend

Whonnock man tried but could not save victim of Maple Ridge fire

Michel Lefebvre was among many who attempted to enter the burning building

Maple Ridge musician’s newest album about “unrequitedness”

Rob Taylor released Passionate Crime earlier this year

Three-year-old takes selfless steps to raise funds in honour of his brother

A Maple Ridge family holds strong together as a family unit through a tough year

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Surrey court clerk files human rights complaint related to concussion

Deborah A. Ryane claims her employer discriminated against her on basis of mental disability

Food fight: Liberals, Tories trade shots as pre-campaign battles intensify

Health Canada released an overhauled document that did away with traditional food groups and portion sizes

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

25 new wheelchair-accessible cabins open at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

Maple Bay Campground is now home to 25 new wheelchair friendly cabins, a first for BC Parks

Most Read