A Langley Township councillor who was censured by her colleagues last year pushed forward a motion to raise the bar for any similar actions in future.
On Monday night, council approved a motion by Coun. Kim Richter to require future motions of censure receive a two-thirds majority of council, instead of a bare majority.
Richter herself was censured by council in late September, during the civic election campaign.
Although Richter’s motion didn’t mention her own recent censuring, it noted that “a simple majority of council can abuse the importance and significance of the censure tool.”
That irked Coun. Bob Long, who noted that censure motions are passed after investigations and based on facts.
Other councillors were more supportive of the motion.
“It doesn’t look good when censure is occurring during an election campaign,” noted Coun. Eric Woodward.
“I think that it should be used very rarely,” said Coun. Petrina Arnason. “I don’t think a simple majority is enough.”
Coun. Steve Ferguson said he hoped future Township councils would never have to sanction one of their own.
The first half of Richter’s motion passed on a six-to-three vote.
However, council was not so keen on the second half, which called for councillors facing censure to have their legal bills taken care of by the Township.
“You’re not attacking the council, you’re defending yourself from the council,” Richter said.
But the remainder of council was not convinced. Woodward noted that censuring doesn’t necessarily harm a councillor.
“The only real punishment from censure is bad publicity,” he said.
The motion was defeated, with only Richter voting in favour.
The censure motion passed in September against Richter ordered her to take in-depth training on the Township’s Respectful Workplace Policy and involved actions that allegedly impacted unnamed “members of staff.”
The exact nature of Richter’s actions has not been released due to privacy policies.
The events spun out of a brouhaha over former Coun. Angie Quaale’s food store Well Seasoned.
After Well Seasoned won a $1,453 contract to cater a Township event, Richter argued the contract didn’t meet the “smell test” and said there was a possible conflict of interest.
The Township’s legal team said there was no conflict, as Well Seasoned’s bid was the lowest of the three received.
But the dispute blew up on social media, and by November of last year, then-Councillor Charlie Fox put forward a motion asking for a legal opinion on whether the Respectful Workplace Policy had been violated. The ultimate issue was not directly related to the social media battles, according to the Township.
Richter referred to the censure as a “political stunt to sully my good name,” and called the five councillors who voted in favour of the censure and the investigation the “gang of five.”
After the censuring, Richter won re-election, while Quaale was defeated.
Motions of censure are rare in Langley Township. The last one was issued against former Mayor Rick Green in 2010, for misleading council. Richter was the councillor who moved that motion.
READ MORE: Richter censured by Langley Township council