Coun. Ben Isitt (File contributed/ City of Victoria)

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for the suspension of a Victoria city councillor, following his comments about the demonstrations in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Coun. Ben Isitt attended the tense demonstration at the B.C. Legislature on Feb. 11 where supporters of the Wet’suwet’en, who are fighting a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C., blocked MLAs and other staff from accessing the building. Isitt attended as a citizen.

Victoria police later said several people had accused the demonstrators of assault, prompting Isitt to chastise the department and the media.

“This allegation is hogwash designed to discredit Indigenous youth and their supporters,” he said in a tweet. “VicPD’s mandate is to ensure public safety, not spread fake news.” In a subsequent blog post, he also said, “The corporate media is frantically spinning the non-violent blockade of the legislature as some kind of ‘violent protest.’”

ALSO READ: Victoria councillor calls VicPD allegations of assault at downtown protest ‘fake news’

His remarks drew pushback not only from the public but from Premier John Horgan, who said his thoughts on Isitt “are not printable.”

Now, an online petition, founded by local real estate agent David S. Piercy, calls for Isitt to be suspended for attending the “unlawful assembly” with another councillor “in which government staff were injured.”

The protest was not unlawful; Canadian residents have a right to protest peacefully. Additionally, Helps told Black Press Media that councillors are allowed to participate in protests at their choosing and present their own views.

She also noted councillors cannot be suspended, even with a petition. She declined to comment on Isitt’s actions.

Piercy has recently criticized Isitt, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and other councillors on Twitter for not stopping demonstrators from blocking roads and other public areas.

ALSO READ: Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt calls for limitation of council duties in response to survey results

As for Isitt himself, he said the petition is unfounded.

“While I welcome input from the public, this particular petition does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion. Many of the signatories live outside the province and country,” he said in an email.

“There is also no legal basis from removing me from public office, since I am in compliance with all provincial legislation relating to the conduct of municipal councillors. The petition appears to be motivated by opposition to my political ideas, rather than actual infractions of provincial law.”

Despite often drawing fire for his opinions, Isitt was elected in 2018 with more votes than any other council or mayoral candidate.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

City of Victoria

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Young Langley residents celebrate their birthdays with personalized parades

Growing trend amid COVID-19 closures is having decorated vehicles honk past homes

Thieves caught in the act at Aldergrove go-cart track

Three weeks ago, the Langley Quarter Midget Association decided to upgrade security after a theft

What can people still do outside during COVID-19?

A list of ideas that can still be done in order to get a little exercise and fresh air

A call for donations to fight COVID-19 in Langley and elsewhere

B.C. hasn’t run out of protective gear, but supplies are getting low

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

Most Read