The sex assault trial of former Pitt Meadows councillor David Murray showed cities have no way to oust convicted politicians.

Convicted councillors should lose positions, says Lower Mainland council

Lobbying to change B.C. Community Charter after David Murray conviction

Pitt Meadows council wants laws changed to allow cities to remove councillors convicted of crimes.

After dealing with the sexual assault conviction of then-councillor David Murray in October of 2017, Pitt Meadows council is lobbying for change.

Mayor John Becker will bring forward a motion at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association conference in Whistler, May 9-11. The motion will encourage the group to lobby the provincial government to make legislative changes to the B.C. Community Charter to give municipalities the power to suspend or remove an elected official convicted of a criminal offence.

“There’s a gap in the legislation that needs to be addressed,” said Becker. “Currently, there is no authority under the B.C. Community Charter to allow a municipality to remove an elected official from office even if convicted of a criminal offense.”

The city’s motion advocates through the LMLGA and, subsequently, the Union of B.C. Municipalities for changes to legislation for local government.

The “Disqualification from Holding Elected Office” motion would require an elected government official be put on paid leave immediately or disqualified from holding office upon conviction of a serious criminal offence or until the expiration of the time to file an appeal or determination of an appeal.

After Murray’s conviction, Becker met with him to discuss the matter, and Murray agreed to resign, several months later to avoid a by-election.

Becker said he was able to “lean on a personal relationship” with Murray in the discussion about the convicted council member leaving his position. Murray had no obligation to then resign.

“He could still be sitting as a member of council, with full rights of participation and pay,” Becker added.

Murray was sentenced to nine months in jail on March 21, but was incarcerated for 16 days before being granted bail as he appeals his conviction and sentencing.

There are limited provisions in the charter that specifically set out where elected officials can be disqualified from office, such as conflict of interest, failing to attend meetings or not taking an oath of office.

But having a criminal record is not one of them.

“The City of Pitt Meadows is committed to leading this change, so that no other council will be faced with this unacceptable situation again,” said Becker.

He has heard from critics who say Murray should have been off council as soon as he was charged, but Becker said the presumption of innocence and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would complicate that position.

Becker, a lawyer, said he has spoken to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson about the issue, and numerous local government officials, and has heard agreement that the issue needs to be addressed.

“The status quo is unacceptable.”

Just Posted

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

African Children’s Choir making a difference in the world

Waroto Children’s Choir celebrate Christ and caring for community on six month world tour

Snowpack at normal levels, but El Niño is lurking

Despite a warmer than usual winter that has produced a dearth of… Continue reading

Letter: New party with a strong platform could form majority government in B.C.

Voters fed up with BC’s political parties open the door for a new party to enter BC politics

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

First Nation supporters march to Premier Horgan’s MLA office in Victoria

Upwards of 30 people moved across the Greater Victoria municipality of Langford on Wednesday morning, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external committee

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Most Read