The Township of Langley: Muzzling, Banishment and Restrictions in Council Chambers? Be Alarmed!

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is all about Bullying and Intimidation by Mayor and the majority of Council !!

The Municipal Hall and by extension Council Chambers are owned by the taxpayers of the Township of Langley. Contrary to comments by some members of Council it IS NOT A COURT ROOM! Proper decorum is one thing but for the most part the formality within Council Chambers is intimidating to many; it is time we make things inviting and comfortable not more intimidating! Isn’t intimidation the act of a bully? What hypocrites! 

The move in this direction started during my term when the majority of Council, upset for whatever reason that residents attending Council applauded from time to time during presentations by the public  at Public Hearings and/or meetings, passed a resolution of Council to prohibit applause and/or heckling at any time. Now let’s be clear, at no time would I allow heckling, I would stop a meeting and eject anyone guilty of that act. Having said that I was very opposed to the prevention of applause, BUT as history would have it my opposition had no affect!

The Democracy that is provided us, thanks to the efforts of Canadian men and women and the sacrifice of Canadian lives on a number of fronts in history, is a pain in the backside and disturbing to many, but its value in our society is immeasurable and wouldn’t be traded for anything. To use an old expression “it depends on whose Ox is being gored”. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a foundation of rights, all of us as Canadian Citizens rely on heavily to protect our universal democratic rights. We might not all agree because of our own personal biases, but would we trade what we have? Not a chance!

This council has acted in an irresponsible way on a number of fronts with respect to Council Chamber decorum and principles of debate. There has been the banishment of Jacob De Raadt who has been a thorough pain in the derriere to members of council and it could easily be argued (Jacob presented before me on many occasions) went too far and should have received a penalty, but banishment without process, never! This banishment prohibits him from setting foot in the Municipal Hall without written permission from Mayor and Council. De Raadt has also been banned from directly contacting either council members or municipal staff. There was no warning of penalty, just a decision made in-camera with no appeal and/or discussion. I think it could be fairly argued that Jacob, who was doing a considerable amount of work fighting for residents in opposition to projects throughout the Township (contrary to some press reports, some were very justified fights) caused staff and Council members discomfort and considerable frustration, given his arguments. So what is the real reason, a perceived loss of power and control by council?

When looking at the issue of decorum and infringement on rights in Council Chambers I will quote the following from an editorial written by Matthew Claxton in the Langley Advance. This is very well done and very appropriate –

“Dealing with him (Jacob De Raadt) has been a chore for the past half dozen Township councils. But does this mean that he should be banned for life, with each and every future appearance subjected to the whims of the mayor and councilors? Should there not be a time limit, an appeal process? We are considering whether people have the right to address their elected leaders on matters of public policy, at open forums. Mayor Jack Froese has said that any policy on when someone can be banned from council would be too restrictive. This is a slippery slope in its classic form.”

Matthew goes on “Rules around free speech in general, and about transparent government and open meetings, were not created only for the polite and well spoken. They were created for the boorish, the ignorant, the arrogant, the stupid, and the just plain mean. It is easy to say we respect free speech with which we agree; the real test is whether we can screw up our courage to be insulted by morons.”

Now as to Matthew’s last comments I am sure he was not referring specifically to anyone in this feature, it was a general comment, right Matthew?

In another case, although tied to the story on Jacob above, are the residents surrounding the very contentious Athenry project up on 208th Street. I wrote on this project briefly in my last BLOG posting and will be doing a detailed posting in the future. In any event, the residents surrounding this development justifiably came out in very strong opposition, the project was approved and they launched a law suit and then withdrew, still holding the right to bring back an action against the Township of Langley at a later date. The residents have been advised they cannot speak to council and/or staff about any issues they may have with the building of the project, and must go through Township lawyers. (How does an elected council interfere with residents’ rights to be heard?) Think about it, if the residents affected have a serious problem with what is happening in close proximity to their home they must go to the lawyers for the Township with their issue, the same lawyers who would be defending the Township in the case of any action by these citizens? What? Does anyone else see how inappropriate this decision is?

Now we have a motion by Councilor Grant Ward supported by Councilor Sparrow designed to limit Notices of Motion by Councilors. The proposed motion was to limit Councilors Notices of Motion to one a month or ten per year. This is designed to go after the biggest offender on council, Kim Richter.

Now for anyone out there who isn’t aware (you obviously weren’t following my three years on council) I have no time for Kim Richter, in my opinion she is political dynamite to any Council good working relationship and governs herself on the immediate political wind of the day with no substance behind her public position. There is a reason she hasn’t got along with at last count four Mayors and I can’t count the number of councilors. There is a common denominator and her name is Kim Richter.

Having said that, one of the many reasons I ran for council was watching how the previous council (pre 2008 election) would never second her motions which would prevent any public debate. Democracy comes with a price. Kim Richter might pose or present what some or many might think are ridiculous motions, if council feels that way they can second her motion (for purposes of debate), have the guts to debate it with her or anyone else and defeat it if that is their wish. Remember debate gives other members of council the opportunity to prove the good, bad or ugly of her or anyone else’s motion to those watching the proceedings. In the case of filing Notices of Motions, restricting a duly elected Council member the right to file a limited number of motions fly’s in the face of everything our democratic process stands for. While I am completely opposed to Councilor Richter and what I believe is the truth behind what she really stands for, I will stand behind her right to pose resolutions and/or motions as she sees fit. Council has referred Councilor Ward’s motion to their Council Priorities Committee for further discussion. I can only hope that they see reason and withdraw such a ridiculous motion designed to stifle debate.

I can tell you, spending three years in the Mayor’s Chair you have to deal with a wide range of issues and a wide range of personalities both on Council, with Staff and during proceedings with residents and taxpayers. I fought for three years an apparent willingness by members of council that could only be described as being unnecessarily restrictive. When you couple these actions with those of this council’s dealings with respect to public hearings, a very uninviting and undemocratic pattern is starting to emerge.

I go back to this quote from Mayor Jack Froese “any policy on when someone can be banned from council would be too restrictive.” In other words, we will ban anyone council deems appropriate; we should not be governed by a policy that dictates fairness and rights, no appeal just a hammer!

It is long past time that taxpayers sit up and take notice! Is this the government you voted for?

THIS COUNCIL IS OUT OF CONTROL!

RG

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The Township of Langley University District in and of itself is not the problem, but is typical of an issue in the Township of Langley that offers so much insight of what is wrong in the Township of Langley. By adding into the equation the Wall Development, Township OCP, Metro Regional Growth Strategy, the Agricultural Land Commission and Rich Coleman’s bullying outburst we start to see the classic manipulation for the benefit of a few! The first of Next Week, starting to tell the real story!

 

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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Comments
  1. ram2354 says:

    Good stuff Rick, scary but good. We’re living in the Wild West and more information like yours will hopefully open up some people’s minds. I’m hoping that some of the King’s fiefdom will be chipped away in the impending election; King Coleman’s rash has spread substantially and needs to be treated for its arrogance and self-serving symptoms. Keep up the good work!

  2. Wally Martin says:

    TOL has become increasingly secretive in how it deals with residents. It is not the first time I have heard of citizens having to go through the TOL lawyer when wanting to discuss ordinary business that affects them. This is a police state tactic and needs to end. This is very troubling. How much money is BHT (Bull Hoser and Tuperware) sucking out of TOL taxpayers? Why can’t council take charge of TOL business without constantly running to see the lawyer? Recently Dave Davis said “You may need a thick skin but it is part of the job” . II say good for you Dave.
    Rick can you enlighten us on how “in camera” works? It seems to me to be used excessively.

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