David Murray remained on Pitt Meadows council for more than a year between his charge and conviction for sexually assaulting a teen girl. He is appealing.

B.C. city tries again to have politicians convicted of crimes removed from council

Could bring issue to Union of B.C. Municipalities in Sept.

Pitt Meadows council will try again to have laws changed so local politicians convicted of crimes can be removed from their positions.

A resolution from Pitt Meadows was brought to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association annual conference, but was lost in tie vote on May 10.

As it stands, local politicians, such as former Pitt Meadows councillor David Murray, who has been convicted of sexual assault, can stay on council as long as they are able to attend a minimal number of meetings.

There is no legal mechanism to remove them from office, but the city wants to lobby Victoria for legislative changes.

The next step is for council to bring the issue to the Union of B.C. Municipalities 2018 convention in Whistler, Sept. 10-14.

The resolution, which was before council on Tuesday, asks that the UBCM lobby the provincial government to make legislative changes to require elected officials to be put on paid leave immediately upon conviction of a serious criminal offence. They would be on paid leave until the expiration of the time to file an appeal, or once the results of an appeal had been determined.

They would also ask that a local government official be disqualified from holding office upon conviction of a serious criminal offence, after the results of an appeal had been determined or the time to file an appeal expired.

Murray is appealing both his conviction and his sentence, which included nine months in jail.

Coun. Janis Elkerton believes the UBCM will support the resolution. She attended the Lower Mainland conference with Mayor John Becker and said the vote was split 30-30, but about 40 people who were eligible to vote chose to abstain.

However, northern municipalities passed a similar motion, so Elkerton expects there will be enough support to tip the vote in favour of those who want convicted councillors removed from office.

The North Central Local Government Association approved a resolution that would required elected officials to be disqualified upon conviction of a serious offence, and further that they take a paid leave of absence upon Crown approval of charges, until the court process is completed.

Elkerton said there was a 40-minute discussion at LMLGA on the Pitt Meadows resolution, and some people argued councillors could be removed from office for civil disobedience, or marijuana convictions that could soon be stricken from the Criminal Code.

She was not in favour of forcing people from office when they are charged, saying it infringes on their right to presumption of innocence.

Coun. Bill Dingwall, who has announced his intention to run for mayor in the local elections in October 2018, agrees councillors who have been charged should be on leave – either paid or unpaid, and that the Pitt Meadows resolution does not go far enough. He said it is an issue of maintaining public trust and confidence in elected officials.

Dingwall said a charge such as sex assault of a minor, as Murray faced, is “serious and troubling” and “should disqualify him from sitting in council chambers.”

He noted that Murray was representing the city on committees and made a trip to Ottawa representing Pitt Meadows while this charge was hanging over him.

He was charged in November 2016, and convicted in October 2017.

Dingwall said for more than a year he and Coun. Tracy Miyashita tried to discuss his legal issues, but there was no will from the rest of council.

“I’m troubled by what took place over the whole year,” said Dingwall, adding that it denigrated public trust and confidence in council.

Elkerton was critical of Dingwall, saying he and Coun. Miyashita both talked about the need for legislative changes, then missed the LMLGA meeting.

“Neither he nor Coun. Miyashita bothered to show up at the conference,” she said. “The were MIA.”

Dingwall noted that Couns. Bruce Bell and Mike Stark were also missing, and could have been the swing votes.

“This conference didn’t work out for me, and I didn’t attend,” he said. “Don’t put this blame on me.”

He said he was surprised it didn’t go through.

The City of Quesnel, in 1996, and the City of Merritt, in 2003, both submitted similar resolutions to the UBCM about disqualification of elected officials, but no changes resulted.

Just Posted

Multi-family housing zoning passed

The way is partly paved for 11 new multi-family strata buildings to go up in Smithers

Two Smithers bowlers go to nationals

Madison Richter and Peyton Pettigrew are heading to Oshawa after winning gold at B.C. provincials.

New Work BC office scheduled to open April 1

Kopar Administration, the new Work BC contractor, still looking to fill positions in Smithers office

Gryphons girls graduate as coach moves on

Bulkley Valley SD54 van der Mark on his time as coach and education administrator.

Bulkley Valley members of The North Matter rally in Houston

Pro-pipeline and resource development group driving convoy Saturday, eyes expansion across the North

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Most Read