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

Ladysmith children get behind the wheel for Public Works Day

Ladysmith marked Public Works Day on Thursday with over 600 children getting… Continue reading

Ladysmith author honours late sister in new children’s book

Sarah de Vries disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 1998

Chemainus ‘Mountain Man’ joins search for Ben Kilmer

Kevin Shiell has been putting his extensive outdoor skills to good use

Search for missing Cowichan man moves towards Hill 60

Volunteer searchers are moving westward

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

Passersby help rescue occupants of home as fire breaks out in Courtenay

Coffee run turns into fire rescue for pair of men

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

RCMP investigating after gunshots fired in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating after gunshots rang out in Courtenay… Continue reading

Vancouver Island wife brings husband back to life with CPR, thanks to 911 dispatcher

‘The dispatcher literally taught me CPR over the phone’

Most Read