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

Campbell River’s Seawalk, trails still open but proper social distancing urged

City issues reminder about safe use of trails and green space

Roadside message of gratitude erected

On her way to work this morning, Lowene Baxandall got a pleasant… Continue reading

Inside Campbell River’s Emergency Operations Centre

Centre dictates how city responds to COVID-19

Campbell River planning desk remains open

Email or telephone only for planning, approval and engineering

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Couple celebrates 61st anniversary through Vancouver Island seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

B.C. man sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Green says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ entertains home-bound kids in Cowichan Bay

Alora Killam, 16, played the part in musical two years ago

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Most Read