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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Smithers woman awarded $55K in RCMP excessive force suit

Irene Joseph alleged false arrest and assault and battery related to a 2014 incident in Smithers

Cannabis shop soon to open in Witset

Indigenous Bloom shop to be followed by cannabis cultivation facility in closed down sawmill

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

Orphaned bear cub named after Snowbirds Capt. Jenn Casey to be cared for in Smithers

Neighbours assist in capture of Tappen Triplets now in care of Northern Lights Wildlife Society

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Still a lot of work to do to fully connect regional district

Draft strategy shows dependence on on single fibre optic cable route, poor cellular service on roads

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Most Read