Mayor takes direct aim at harassment

"Bullies" will no longer be tolerated, says Sooke mayor Maja Tait

Mayor Maja Tait is taking a stand against harassment in and out of the District of Sooke’s council chamber and online, following continuous allegations from some members of the public.

As a result, Tait said the district will take disciplinary measures, corrective action, “or any other appropriate action as it is required” under provincial law against those looking to defame, or otherwise harass, a councillor or district official.

“For years I’ve witnessed disrespect towards our staff and I’m not tolerating it any longer,” she said. “It’s serious business that impacts people’s lives, so it needs to be treated with a certain level of seriousness.”

This is the second time a member of district council has publicly spoken out against harassment of council members and city officials in the last six months.

In February, Coun. Kerrie Reay complained about vitriolic attacks on social media.

Tait said council and management of the district will “vigorously address” any complaints that are formally launched with the municipality concerning any persons who are elected or appointed to act for the municipality.

A week after the announcement, a scanned copy of a confidential letter from Tait addressed to a regular council critic surfaced online highlighting the district’s seriousness in dealing with unfounded public accusations.

“We have reviewed a number of public statements that you have made about municipal staff, and we have concluded that some of these are untrue, and have affected the reputation of council and staff,” Tait wrote in the letter, adding that there’s a line between constructive comments and baseless criticism.

“We do want people to express their viewpoints with us, some things are emotional and some people are passionate about it, and I appreciate that, but there is an expectation of respect,” she said. “If you’re attacking somebody, then I don’t know what your issue is with the business that we’re trying to do.”

The response comes soon after Tait said she will take it upon herself to defend allegations regarding district issues, as she is the only lawful authority to do so.

“As a councillor, as a mayor, I can speak up and I can challenge a member of the public on what’s been said, but staff don’t have that ability,” she said, adding that public discussion doesn’t need to come to this.

“It just doesn’t showcase Sooke in a positive light. It’s not about liking or not liking people, it’s just, if you have a comment about the agenda, let’s talk about the business of the agenda and leave any sort of personal feelings out of it.”

Coun. Rick Kasper made a similar note in March that he wouldn’t stand for ongoing verbal attacks either; online, in the council chamber, or otherwise.

“It gets to the point where you have to say, ‘now hold on here’ … the council chamber is to be treated with respect, it’s not a place for a lynch mob to show up,” he said, adding that harassment in the workplace (city hall) is covered under Work Safe B.C. regulations.

Still, Kasper noted that sometimes for the outside world looking in, it doesn’t necessarily add anything positive to the town’s image.

“Anybody from the outside world looking at some of the behaviour that I’ve witnessed during my tenure as a council member, sometimes it can be viewed as a bit of a zoo.”

While councillors and staff cannot speak out during council meetings, Kasper said that should things progress any further, he’ll take legal action.

“As far as Rick Kasper is concerned, I wouldn’t hesitate,” Kasper said. “We actually swore an oath in office to abide by the laws. As an elected official, I have no choice.”

Concerning specific harassment complaints received by the district, Tait said these are being processed according to the harassment and bullying policy, and any offending member of the public will be dealt with in answer to the policy with applicable laws.

 

Just Posted

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A sketch of the multi-use path that will connect Lagoon Beach and Royal Beach in Colwood. (Sketch courtesy of the City of Colwood)
Concepts for Colwood beach connector coming to council June 21

Major infrastructure project includes gathering places, public amenities and pathways

The District of Sooke is looking to revamp its business licence bylaw. Council agreed recently that all businesses must hold a business licence to operate in the community. (Kevin Laird – Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke pushes ahead with new business licence bylaw

Proposal calls for all forms of business to require licensing, but bylaw can stil be tweaked

Barriers to rental housing brought on by no-pet rules add stress to renters, says councillor. (Pixabay)
Saanich councillor wants to remove barriers to housing for pet owners

Motion calling for province to amend lease stipulations against pet ownership defeated in 5-4 vote

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: A brief history of Bear Creek Camp

Malahat Logging Company began both Beach Camp and Bear Creek Camp

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read