Editor, The News:
I believe that Coun. Dave Murray should be forced to resign immediately in order to take a strong stance against sexual assault.
Protecting sexual assault survivors is very important to me, especially because, as a teenage girl, many of these victims that I hear about in the news could have been me.
I believe that standing up and speaking out is important.
In recent weeks, the world has seen more and more women come forward with the #metoo hashtag, sharing their stories of being sexually assaulted. Slowly but surely, our society is beginning to recognize that there is a problem with the way men in positions of power can get away with whatever they want.
Unfortunately, simply acknowledging this problem means nothing if people are not willing to make change.
I am not talking about Hollywood or some other far-off place. I am talking about right here, right now, in Pitt Meadows.
Coun. Murray has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl 30 years ago, yet he is still officially a city councillor until Jan. 2.
Allowing him to set the date for his resignation, a date that does not come for a month and a half, is a problem. He should be required to resign at once. Anything else allows him to maintain his power, subjects his victim to reminders of his assault, and does nothing to take a stand against sexual violence.
In short, it is appalling that he be allowed to defer his resignation until January, un-paid leave or not.
First of all, in what way is it acceptable for Cloun. Murray to make this sort of decision? He has been convicted of a crime. Why is he allowed to determine how long he keeps his position?
Recent events have highlighted how assaults often stem from an abuse of power, in which victims have no defense. Allowing Coun. Murray to maintain his power over this situation keeps him in a position of dominance over the victim.
Secondly, I, for one, do not want Coun. Murray’s name anywhere in association with the council in my community. I do appreciate that he has been taken off of the Pitt Meadows council website, for the most part.
Yet, while I do not want to brush this off or pretend that his association with the council never existed, allowing his name to remain on documents, such as the meeting minutes, is a constant reminder of his presence.
As his victim herself said: “Why do I have to wait two more months before I can stop seeing my abuser’s name listed […] in the council minutes?”
Finally, this situation is not the only one of its kind, and we need to set a precedent for how we deal with these types of moral issues.
Coun. Murray has been convicted with sexual assault, a serious crime that has lasting effects on his victim. It may be more convenient for council to do nothing and pretend that this is not an issue, but that is not an option for her.
She cannot escape what happened to her. Letting Coun. Murray dictate how this situation plays out is saying that we do not really care about making the world a safer, more welcoming place for victims.
I understand that the council is hesitant because of the costs and time that would be necessary for a by-election at this point in time. It is always easy to put off doing the right thing because it takes too much effort, because someone else will do it, or because next time will be better.
But there should not be a next time. We need to take a serious action right now to deal with this problem and make our position clear for everyone to see.
The recent #metoo movement has been an instigator for conversation. Finally, the world is acknowledging that there is a problem with people in positions of power abusing their dominance.
Now it is time to do more than acknowledge this issue; it is time to stand up to it in our own homes.
The question right now is, what do we want our community to represent?
Do we want to be the kind of place where abusers in situations of power keep their power and dictate how they give it up?
Or do we want to be the kind of place that actually takes a stand to protect victims.
The answer seems easy to me.