Langley Township uses the sledgehammer

Using lawyers as the conduit for communications could prove costly to taxpayers.

Langley Township may have used a sledgehammer to squash a fly, by banning Jacob de Raadt from council chambers, and additionally not allowing him and several other members of the community to directly communicate with anyone within  Township hall.

There is no question that de Raadt did not always conduct himself in a civil manner within the council chambers. There is a need for proper decorum at council, just as there needs to be decorum in any formal procedure — whether in the courtroom or the classroom.

Just becaues people do not conduct themselves with decorum does not mean that there no longer needs to be any. It is up to the mayor to enforce it in the council chamber.

Mayor Jack Froese has, on the few occasions that I have been there since his election, emphasized the need for decorum without being heavy-handed about it.

An outburst by de Raadt in the summer months was certainly out of order and it isn’t surprising that council looked further into the issue. However, having a Vancouver law firm act as the sole conduit between de Raadt and the Township, and also between several other residents on one issue, is going too far.

Lawyers don’t even pick up the phone without turning on the billing meter, and the Township pays out far too much in legal fees already.

Why could de Raadt and other citizens who have been named by the Township not direct questions and inquiries to a specific email address at Township hall, and at least be given the courtesy of a written reply from Township staff? If phone calls or personal contact are a problem, keep communication at the written level — but don’t involve a law firm.

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Last week’s column on the taxation rate paid by smaller breweries prompted an interesting response from Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, an outgoing Liberal MLA and former cabinet minister.

Hawes believes that his own government is playing favourites with Pacific Western Brewery, which he characterizes as much larger than microbreweries.

He sent me a press release from the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild.

“The government has not consulted with the BC Craft Brewers Guild on the changes made by the minister,” says BC Craft Brewers Guild Chairman Tod Melnyk (in the press release.) “And while we appreciate the fact that the BC Liberal government wants to help small businesses, especially the brewing industry, this is not something that benefits anyone other than one brewer, and there are many other initiatives that we would look for their support on that affect all of the small brewers in the province.”

Hawes concurs, and says the government should not be playing favourites in any industry.

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